In his recent Quarterly Essay A Rightful Place, Noel Pearson examines the 18th century Irish Statesman Edmund Burke:
Burke was one of the first major political thinkers to place future generations at the heart of politics….Burke’s view of society, as an association of the dead, the living and the unborn, carries a precious hint as to how responsibility for future generations arises. It arises from love and love directed towards what is unknown must arise from what is known. The future is not known, nor are the people who will inhabit it. But the past is known, and the dead, our dead, are still objects of love and veneration. It is by expanding on them some part of our care, Burke believed, that we also care for the unborn.
I hope Pearson’s reflection on Burke will allow me to marry the idea that your generosity in supporting the Riverview Bursary Program for the unknown, but based on a known—the value that Saint Ignatius’ College, this great institution, was and is, a positive enabler in the lives of so many here and love guide us to the place we are today, and for which I wish to express my enormous gratitude.
His idea allows me to put into context that, which, I know some find a little complicated, politically correct even.
I wish to pay my respects to the Cammeraygal people on whose ancestral land we gather tonight.
In acknowledging the past we give birth to our future. In acknowledging our divergent and shared history, we walk as one. In acknowledging our love and belief in the spirit of Ignatius: in this place of Jesuits since 1880, together with the ancestors, who came long before, we acknowledge that God is within us all. Within all things, places, peoples and cultures past, present and future.
My name is Zach Martin Dennis and I’m of the Kunja and Budjiti peoples on my mother’s side and Gamillaroi on my father’s. Growing up in Bourke, I subsequently came to Riverview, and then to St John’s College, where I’ve been for the duration of my commerce degree. I’ve been a Cadet in the Commercial Division at Westpac since 2011 and the part time work I do with them really underscores the theory of my degree. Last year I completed a project for the Bourke Aboriginal Health Service.
None of this would have been possible if I had not been studying at Sydney University and had the support of the Business School. None of this would have been possible, if I had not preceded university and come to Riverview. One day I am attending lectures at Australia’s oldest University, and the next I am sitting with the oldest living culture in the world, at Engonnia, an hour out of Bourke, surrounded by family and story.
And I am home, and at home, in both.