Thursday, 25 January 2024

What’s pride got to do with it?

‘Dare Mighty Things’ – the slogan from the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab is a short quote from a Teddy Roosevelt speech: “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure … than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight”.

I recently had the good fortune to visit NASA’s mission control in Los Angeles and whilst the achievements of NASA are simply overwhelming, I was struck by one thing which was in stark contrast to continual debates in Australia at this time of year. That is their patriotism and love for their country. Front and centre at mission control is the flag, on every rover, on every deep space probe, even on models and test units is the NASA logo and the American flag. What’s pride got to do with it? It helps drive self-belief, drive success, drive a dedication to do the undoable and to deliver the extraordinary. As part of the massive undertaking that is space exploration and cutting-edge technology development, are outcomes that are good for humanity. 

The Europa Clipper mission which will launch later this year may well be the first mission to find life elsewhere, although it is on what’s thought to be an icy moon around Jupiter. What an incredible achievement. 

Compare this to Cricket Australia’s alleged decision to not mention “Australia Day” at the Test at the Gabba in Brisbane later this week. Major retailers claiming they won’t stock Australia Day merchandise. No matter what your view or where you come from. No matter whether your connection is cultural, you were born here or you took the oath last week. Here’s something we can all agree on: there is no better place on the planet than Australia. A country where opportunities abound and success can be earned. So while some retailers are doing what they are doing others are not. While sporting bodies are taking decisions which I believe the overwhelming majority of Australians disagree with, the Australian people don’t need them. 

This Friday at the Gabba, wear your Australia Day best. The bucket hats, the Australia Day suits, the temporary flag tattoos. Take your Australian flags and flag hand wavers. And every time the Australian team hits a boundary, which I hope is often, wave them like there is no tomorrow. Because no matter what decisions are made by others there are some things that can never be taken from us. 

Pride in our country and its people. A belief that we can achieve anything if we set our minds to it. A determination to achieve the unachievable. Because in this country there should be no such word as can’t.

What’s pride got to do with it? Everything. 

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