Governor’s Prayer Breakfast 2006 – Keynote Address

Friday 28 July 2006

by His Excellency Dr Ken Michael AC
Governor of Western Australia

It is a great privilege to welcome you all here this morning for my first Governor’s Prayer Breakfast in this role. I trust that it will be an enjoyable time together where we can share our thoughts and reiterate our commitment to fellowship and unity among us all in our wonderful State.

I am aware that the breakfast has become a special and significant event on the Christian calendar in Western Australia and the large gathering today is testament to this. Both Julie and I are very pleased to be involved this year.

Coming together like this helps us all reaffirm our faith and commitment to God, and it reminds us that the challenges that we face daily are ones that can be met through that faith and our love of God’s values.

As Patron, let me begin by commending the Committee for its work in organising this breakfast so well again this year.

The vision statement for the breakfast says that the purpose is to “bring together community leaders in fellowship and unity to acknowledge God’s values and call on his name – that God may hear us and heal our land”.

It is a strong reminder that we are part of a complex world. Each one of us shares a common bond – and that bond is that we are all human and that all of us – in our own way – are striving to lead happy and satisfying lives.

In that quest, I believe, is the imperative that we must commit to doing good work within our communities, offering our support and comfort to those people who are in need, wherever they may be in the world.

In recent years we have witnessed global tragedies and natural disasters that have imperilled thousands of people; many tens of thousands losing their lives in these events, and many more left homeless facing futures without their loved ones.

At home, we see increasing alienation of people within our own society with increased youth suicide, more people suffering mental health problems, rises in marriage breakdowns, and greater drug and alcohol-related diseases and deaths.

The fast pace that we strive to lead our day-to-day lives often leaves people highly stressed about managing all the competing facets of life; with less time to focus on family and friends and, indeed, diminished time to contribute something of themselves back to society in voluntary ways through the act and gift of love.

I read a very interesting article recently that analysed ways that people lead fulfilling lives. Dr Nick Baylis, a lecturer in positive psychology at Cambridge University, made the point that love serves a remarkable purpose in people’s ability to reach their goals and explore their talents creatively. He wrote that:

“Of all the lives I have studied, there’s not a single example where someone has achieved creative heights without having at least one source of deeply supportive love.”

Dr Baylis continues:

“No matter whether that source arose in their childhood or in later years, that love served as a catalyst to their flourishing. With this in mind, I ponder just how much potential to do good each of us has within us, simply by caring for someone enough to support them in their passions.”

That ability “to do good” is something that I believe is instrumental in our overall happiness. The gift of service and kindness brings with it a sense of belonging and satisfaction that we can make a difference.

The late Dr Jacob Bronowski, the distinguished mathematician, philosopher of science and author of the book and television series entitled The Ascent of Man – which I am sure many of you will be familiar with – raised much the same point when he in that series traced the rise of humans, both as a species and as moulders of our own environment and future.

He talked about the principle of justice being universal of all cultures, saying that:

“It is the tightrope that man walks, between the desire to fulfill his wishes, and his acknowledgement of social responsibility.”

Dr Bronowski went on to conclude that:

“…every man, every civilisation, has gone forward because of its engagement with what it has set itself to do. The personal commitment of a man to his skill, the intellectual commitment and the emotional commitment working together as one, has made the Ascent of Man.”

This morning’s breakfast, then, is about that reaffirmation of our intellectual and emotional commitment to work together as one, recognising that we share our existence as interconnected beings on this planet.

It is a time to reflect on our personal values and social responsibilities as we consider how we can contribute to a better environment for us all.

It is, as the vision outlines, also about calling on His name, that God may hear and heal our land. Essentially, it is a time of prayer for our community, our leaders, our city, our State, our nation, and our world.

Each year we invite a national or international leader to make an address and this year is no exception. It is our privilege to have well-known author and international speaker, Reverend Ed Silvoso as our guest speaker. We welcome him and Mrs Silvoso to Perth and trust that they enjoy there stay here. We look forward to Reverend Silvoso’s presentation this morning.

In addition to the formalities and the important prayers – which, of course, are our main focus this morning – the breakfast is also a time to catch up with old friends and make new ones, as we take the opportunity to draw nearer to God.

As Martin Luther King has said:

If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.

As we gather together this morning, such reality checks serve as a reminder to us all to allow time to reflect on how we may contribute to the betterment of our society.

Finally, thank you all for being here this morning. I trust that you are enjoying the breakfast and that this event will continue to be a feature of our community in the years ahead.