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The genius of Gibran by Jonar Nader

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The works of world-famous author Khalil Gibran (whom some spell as Kahlil) were exhibited at the State Library of New South Wales. After the official launch on friday 3 December 2010, The Australian Lebanese Foundation hosted a Tribute at which Jonar Nader presented a lecture called, ‘The Genius of Gibran’.

Here is the presentation on video, followed by the three dramatic stings. By the way, in the photo above, taken by Belinda Christie, we see David Malouf (author), The Honourable Virginia Judge MP, George Basher (actor), Regina Sutton (State Librarian and CEO), Jonar Nader, and Professor Fadia Ghossayn (President of the Australian Lebanese Foundation). After the fourth video below, is a transcript of the speech.

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To explore the mysteries of the power of 14, click here.

Below are three additional videos of the dramatic music stings that were used on the night.

1) The walk-in that also featured the roll-call at the end, listing the names of everyone in the room.

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2) The 2-minute energetic sting used to introduce the official speeches.

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3) The 2-minute high-energy sting that preceded Jonar’s introduction.

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Below is a transcript of Jonar’s lecture:

Greg Ward: Now, the video introduction that you have just seen concluded with these words. “I am alive like you and I am standing beside you. Close your eyes and look around, you will see me in front of you.” These were the words written by Gibran himself that were placed on his final place. And these beautiful and haunting words are truly words of encouragement.

So, with Gibran’s spirit undoubtedly here in front of us tonight, we arrive at the keynote presentation. But before we start, we need to ask a question. Why? Why did the Australian Lebanese Foundation invite Jonar Nader to present the keynote address? I mean there must have been dozens of scholars and academics and eminent dignitaries who could have been considered. So, what is it about Jonar that makes him the obvious choice?

Well, maybe it’s because both Jonar and Gibran have a great deal in common. Both men have mothers who are born in the village of Bsharri. Both Gibran and Jonar played in the same fields and they climbed the same trees, ate fruit from the same orchards, drank from the same streams.

As a boy, Gibran was taken to the United States. And as a boy, Jonar was brought here to Sydney. Both men could not speak English when they changed countries. Yet both men went on to become international authors and both write poetically. In fact, Jonar also writes about crime and terrorism and high technology and management. I’m sure that a great deal of you have been listening to Jonar on Arabic and English radio for the last 20 years.

Gibran was fond of painting. And Jonar too is an artist. Of the 24 paintings in Jonar’s home, Jonar painted all 24 of them. Both men infuriate people. Both upset people. Both challenge leaders in government and in industry. And both men have changed people’s lives with their literary work. Now, you heard the president of Australian Lebanese Foundation, Professor Fadia Ghossayn, say that Jonar was the little Gibran. We could think of no one better qualified to present the keynote address here tonight to celebrate Gibran’s life.

Ladies and gentlemen, to explore the genius of Gibran, we would like to call on our own resident genius. Ladies and gentlemen, please a big round of applause for Mr. Jonar Nader.

Jonar Nader: Thank, you Greg.

Greg Ward: You’re welcome.

Jonar Nader: Thank you. Beloved friends, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, members of my family, it’s so lovely to see you. I wanted to just give out a little bit of a question here, was Gibran a genius? That’s a question that some gentlemen asked me the other day. So, that’s going to be the question I would post.

Now, you all know he’s fantastic. You all know he’s great. You all know he’s brilliant. But we called upon the proof because anyone can say, “Oh, you’re brilliant. You’re fantastic. But where is the proof?” So, I would like to talk to you about the proof today. But before we begin, just to those of us who might have forgotten where Lebanon is but you all know where Italy is, don’t you? OK.

Now, this is the Mediterranean Sea. And Lebanon has the best view of Mediterranean. We get this very straight wonderful view. Now, what does Lebanon look like? It’s sort of smothered away by it’s cozy being Lebanon surrounded by this wonderful nations around us. And let me just ask you, if we compare Lebanon with Australia, where do you think, look at this, where do you think that Lebanon would fit? No,no, not there. I’ll show you. So someone already said, “Really? I didn’t think of that mate?”

Jonar Nader: No, no, no. Here it is. This is Lebanon fitting in Australia for you.

If you want to start a new house and drive down, you wouldn’t even get to warm on it because it shows a short drive. And I did that everyday from where I live down and I think all of us as well.

Now, this was where I was born in the city space of Lebanon but my mother came from Bsharri and that was her environment.

Jonar Nader: Now, to find my mum’s house because I used to go there and I grew up there and I played there, this photo couldn’t quite get it so it’s actually to the bottom left of this photo and I have to hire a commercial Russian satellite to show you the house and zoom in on it. Now, this was where they grew up, our cousins, uncles, etc. Now, for you to understand how magnificent this property was, I need to peel away the front. And we used to go there and enjoy the lunches and the dinners and the most freshest of food. And if you thought that was fantastic, hold your breath as you look out the balcony and think.

If you were even brave a little bit more, you go further and further and further. Now, when you have these vantages, the next question has to be, if you were standing there, what would you see? And the views both in summer and winter were the most stunning of views. You can see why the people here in Lebanon and people from Lebanon absolutely love their country because whether it’s summer or winter, it is still likable. And I used to go there as a child and at the age of six, here I am.

Jonar Nader: Someone said to me, “Quick. Let’s go.” And I thought, oh another baiter because they’re always saying, quick, let’s go. And this time they took me to the museum of Gibran, Kahlil (Khalil) Gibran. And I was – there it is. That was the photo. And I was this young kid walking to this thing that was more Australian is now a beautiful museum. I thought, what is this? And people would cheer me. It’s like, “Wow! Jonar is being introduced to Gibran.” Well, thanks.

Since I was 13, I feel in love with his work and when I was 16 and to this day, I read his book, The Prophet, twice a year. And every time I read it, I think how stupid can I be? I’m still learning. And I read the book and I think, oh, I didn’t know that. I still learn from his work day and night.

So, let me now get to the question. Is/Was Gibran a genius? Well, let’s say if we can even prove this point. First, I believe that to be a genius you have to be an original thinker because if everyone is like you, where is the genius in that, right? So, was Gibran an original thinker? On marriage in The Prophet, when he wrote and we read and he says, “Stand together. You’re not tuned in together for the pillars of the temples stand apart.” He was saying that at the time when no one would dare and utter those words or think them. In a culture that was completely different, was that original or what? And was that daring or what? He said, “Even though they quiver with the same music, the strings of the lute are aligned.”

For a man so young, he died at 48 don’t forget, if I’m right. Is that right?

Audience: Yes.

Jonar Nader: For a man so young to dare to utter these words about marriage that says to me, he was thinking in a way that was original. That’s proof point number one.

Was this man ahead of his time? Well, you know, I was watching an interview with Buzz Aldrin, one of the men who were the first to walk on the moon and I remember Buzz Aldrin saying something like when we left this earth and I look back, I could not see the geography that I was taught at school. At school, we’re taught of these maps and he say, “But when I look at the earth, I couldn’t see the geography. It was just one beautiful planet, one beautiful place. Why on earth do we have conflict when we’re a little tiny dot in the universe?”

And now, this was a gentleman who had to spend $2 billion to get to the moon to work that out and here is Gibran 46 years prior having noticed this before the airplane, before the space shuttle, before anyone ever thought we’d ever get to the moon. Gibran’s mind was elevating to the satellite status. And he said, “You know, if you were to sit upon a cloud, you would not see the boundary line between one country than other nor the boundary standing between one farm than the next.” Gibran said, “It is a pity we cannot sit upon a cloud.” Basically saying, stupid people why do you fighting about? We’re all one nation. We’re all one country. We’re all one earth. We’re all one globe that should be pulling together.

So, do you think he was ahead of his time when long before even anyone could conceive of the rocket or the spaceship that if we actually can see that we really ought to just spend a moment to look down and see how funny it is.

He was shifting power before the Feminist Movement started and before the Women’s Rights Movement started. And he was talking about equality before anyone dare utter those words and he said, “Are you a husband who regards the wrongs he had committed as lawful but those of his wife as unlawful? At a time were men were dominant and dominating. Or are you a faithful companion whose wife is ever at his side sharing his every thought, rapture, and victory?” Long before the Women’s Movement, long before the Equal Rights Movement. This was a man way ahead of his time shifting power.

But as a fourth proof point, we ask, okay, is he a genius? I think you need to be somebody innovative. Well, were you? Was he innovative? Let us look at some of these questions. Back then and to this very day, everyone thinks that work is always work. And back then long before the management gurus and the total quality management and the quality insurance and long before all this play stuffing this of let’s not fight off, let’s hug each other. And I don’t know what they’re doing in this corporate thing is you know, you would go to them.

People saw work as they’re still seeing work sometimes as a burden. And way back then, was this innovative or not when he said, “People, work is love made visible.” And he was the guru talking about management staff engagement and talking about everything that you do you must do it with passion and with love. Not because it makes you feel better but because you’re doing it for someone who is your kin, your friend, your family. We are all one family. Build a house as if you’re building it for your mother.

What about proof point number five? Was he brave? Boy was he brave to speak like this at the time when no one even dared speak like this. You know they used to burn his books in the City Square. Here, we are celebrating the man that has touched our lives and back then some audacious person especially in the churches were burning his books. No disrespect, Your Excellency. I don’t think you did that today, would you?

Jonar Nader: Well, he certainly was brave and he knew that he would probably be killed if he went back home because he was back in the US and people were ostracizing him out of the country. And he loved it. I mean he was at pains with it and he was dying with it but he said, “I know now I’ve touched a nerve and when you touch a nerve, you’re getting close to something that’s called truth. And therefore, that’s okay. I’ll forego my beautiful homeland but I’d rather do what I have to do.” And he said of these empires who were dominating that when he said, “The ignorant nations arrested good men and turn them into this false.” Because that’s what they were trying to do things because they know he’s a nobody.

A country ruled by a tyrant persecutes those who try to free the people from the burden of slavery. They were persecuting him because he was saying, “Stop allowing anyone to oppress you.” And he who does not prefer exile to slavery is not free by any meter of freedom. He was free in his mind and he loved that, even if that meant being deprived from his very own home.

Was Gibran a genius? Well, a genius seems to be insightful. And was he being insightful when he said these words which I wish learned a long time ago. That’s what I tell you. I think I’m stupid because I’m still learning. I wish I knew this before. Gentlemen, how long did it take you to learn this? Gibran said, “Listen to a woman when she looks at you not when she speaks at you.”

Jonar Nader: It took me a long time to work that out. You see I’m so literal. I hear words but this got nothing to do with the words and the man sorted that out.

Let’s get proof point number seven going. Did he achieve amazing results? Well, someone would measure results then commercially but how many books did he sell? How many movies did he make? Was he in the top ten? And what does XYZ newspaper published his books out? It does not matter. He doesn’t care whether he sells one book or as it so happens now, millions of books. They did achieve amazing results and the result that I think is amazing is that Gibran could kiss you and hit you at the same time. He could love you and chastise you and slap you and yet, you know that he’s doing it with love. He was able to stir our mind into thinking into ways that no one even dared to utter. And yet, at the same time while he stirred our mind, he was touching our heart. That is the skill that I did not know too many writers can do.

He himself started personal challenges. And if you can’t handle that kind of personal challenge, you can never get to the stage of success or on the stage of genius. I mean as you know, anything you do, you’re all very successful people in this room. You know nothing is easy. Gibran look at you like, “Oh, you’re so successful.” Only you know the hundreds and millions of hours and heart and blood pressure and blood, sweat, and tears that you pour into it. And he himself had tremendous personal challenges, going to a new country, new language because his mum was sick and his brother died and his father was in jail. And like it was just very tumultuous and difficult but he himself as you know died only – and yes, he died unconscious to this hospital in New York, that’s how much pain he was in the medications back then weren’t as lucky as they are today. They’re not as great as they are today.

But did he know pain? My goodness, he said, “Pain is an unseen and powerful hand that breaks the skin of the stone in order to extract the pulp.” Now, my friend, Suzanne Mansour brought this to my attention and we discussed that he’s courageous. Can you see a man so in pain that he thinks that pain, first of all, is unseen. You can’t arrest it because if you know where it is, you can go and grab it and keep it. But no, it’s just all and it is unseen so that means you can’t do anything about it. It engulfs you and is so powerful that something all of a sudden can be ripped like as if it were a fig or a mango and the stone could be pulped. My goodness, that’s crushing. And he suffered that.

And yet, he did not give up. He did not go on at all. He did not sort of go, oh well. He persisted and persisted and would not give up and he continued. But did he continue? He continued to amaze. That was the most difficult of all. He could have, for example, said, “Let go of the war against these people.” But he didn’t. He could have said, “I’ll be a dictator and make it my way or no way. If you don’t do it my way, you’re in trouble.” He didn’t do that either.

Gibran stirred the world but he didn’t dominate anybody. He didn’t intimidate people. He didn’t hate a religious life. And he could have and he could have been very useful but he didn’t. He chose something hard. He wasn’t a police officer nor was he an outlaw. How did laws change the world for us? Law enforces help us to improve our lives. He was neither. I wish he chose one of those lives. It would have been easier. But no, he chose an even harder life.

Did he go into law? Did he become a judge? No. He could have done it and being a great one at it. He could have been a philanthropist or a generous man but he didn’t have the money. He could have built things and infrastructures. He couldn’t do it. Had he’d done that, it would have been easier. He chose an even harder path. He didn’t go for rallies and demonstrations and he didn’t enter parliament. What did he do? He could have done any of those and be powerful. But he chose the worst one of those and that is the art. The art is the most difficult way in which to communicate and address people. Yet, the most loving and the most penetrating as Honorable Virginia Judge mentioned.

We need to start speaking in culture rather than war and money and get into the hearts and minds of people because that’s where they live not in the bank down. And no disrespect to our friends in common who are banking the arrow bank.

Jonar Nader: But you know, James [Wakim CEO of Arab bank], you would agree, wouldn’t you? Family, love, and heart and not about how much money you’ve got.

So, he didn’t choose any of those. He chose the arts. And then he used to pass on his problem. Not only did he choose the arts, he chose the most difficult of all the arts. What did he choose? He chose writing. Of course, he was a painter too. But his painting could not exist without his works. I mean every work of art that he has produced is relevant to his poetry, to his philosophy. So, he was a writer.

I’m not saying to you that being a writer is the most difficult of all the arts. So, what a problem this man has put on his shoulders? Now, can I prove to you that writing is the most difficult of all the arts? That seems strange, doesn’t it? Dr Taouk, because anyone could pick up a pen and paper. Isn’t it fantastic? Anyone could write, ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, hello darling how are you’. I mean it’s very simple. Hey, go publish that.

Well, let’s see now. Can we prove this point? I think food is an art. And growing up with my mother who is here tonight, she’s the best cook in the world. I’m sure your mother is too. But to me, food is fantastic and she feeds me day and night I think well. Now, food is an art. You must admit, you can’t say, “Well, chef there you go. Here are nice pieces of lettuce. Do something.” But the thing is, that though food is delicious, the beginning points of food come from Mother Nature, come from God. And we take what God has given us and we turn it into delicious stuff, order fillet and everything else you want.

Jonar Nader: Now – but you know, I don’t know if I told you but I know on TV that have these shows about a great chef or whatever. I mean what are you boasting about? God made the tomato. Who do you think you are? So yes, of course, we have a good chefs and bad chefs but seeing what they’ve got to begin with, they have a wonderful foundation to begin with.

What does the write have to begin with? I could ask you. He didn’t have Mother Nature’s own beauty that gives the shift that would lift a good starting point. What does the write had? The writer has unnatural language. I look at a human and I think bones and fingers and teeth and eyes, isn’t it amazing that the biology of a human, can’t you see? Can you hear and feel but yet, I don’t understand how we’re born but not language.

Language has to be taught and you have to learn it and we have had thousands and still have thousands of languages. And now, a writer has to communicate to you, to me through an unnatural process. There are only three natural things to do with communication and one of them is cry. I find that funny too. Can you imagine a meeting with God? He says, “I want to create this human and I want him to cry.” Someone like me would say, what for? What’s crying all about? That’s one. That’s the only thing we’re in common. The same thing we have in common is screaming.

Of all the languages in the world, we all know screaming. I think that’s a very universal piece of language. And when screaming, it’s when the brain goes into overdrive and cannot think anymore and goes into its natural state.

Now, watch this little video here of this girl on the right-hand side. She gets to the point where she doesn’t know what to say. Her natural instincts take over. Watch how she screams in this show.

Jonar Nader: That’s what happens. You just get to a point of no more words and that’s the natural state. And the other one is laughter. It’s a very funny little engineering thing that we laugh, we cry, and we scream. They’re the only things we have in common.

And so, the writer doesn’t have beautiful tomatoes and all these things to work with. The writer has nothing. And has to work with a manufactured language to somehow then go into meaning. And somehow, I’m supposed to think it, feel it, and then somehow express it to you and give it to you. And while you are on a train or on a bus, you somehow going to do the same thing and I don’t know. That makes it very difficult. So, by comparison to cooking, the writer has it tough.

What about writing in comparison to say, the fine artists? Indeed, the fine artist can take a simple piece of lead and turn it into a lovely illustration of what can keep cook silver and what life was like. But the great thing about this is that the artist has the privilege of color to somehow show we can mix and mix and create a wonderful creations and I’m not putting down the arts in dispense at all but I’m saying, isn’t the fine artist so lucky that they have color. What does Gibran had? What does the writer had? They don’t have anything other than maybe the exclamation mark, maybe the question mark. And if you want to be so bold, you can put color but only show what that does. You’re restricted.

What about then – let’s compare the writer to the engineer and the architect. All it takes is a great mind to build the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, the wonderful. Imagine the beauty that this was developed so beautifully through architecture. But I say to you, the author has it tougher than the architect because when this bridge was built, it was built once. You don’t have people driving up to, you know, North Sydney and they get out their hammers and tools to build the bridge each time.

But for a writer, we may present the book to you, you have to read it and construct it in your head every single time. Every single passage when it comes to any of Gibran’s book, one has to read it and construct it in their head every single. That makes it difficult for the writer because I don’t know where you’re at, what you’re thinking about, your level of understanding, and the writer is useless, pointless. It’s a dead piece of paper until you reconstruct it every single time. That makes it pretty tough.

Then we have to compare the writer with the movie maker. Now, in the movie world, you’ve got multimedia, special effects, sounds, color, movement, and many, many actors, location. Isn’t that marvelous? And yes, moviemaking is difficult. It’s rich. But it’s so much easier because you’ve got all the weakness of multimedia and computer animation. What does the writer have? Twenty-six letters of the alphabet if you’re just thinking in English.

Now, you got to take 26 letter of the English alphabet and somehow put them and give them to someone who’s on a train or on a bus, somewhere far away from you and that person to reconstruct the bridge in their head and fill it – and change their life where they will change their world with it. But I have to say, you don’t have 26 letters of the English alphabet. If you take some of the greatest speeches of the world… Those of you who do crosswords, you can now have new hobby. You grab any finest speech you like. Like this Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, the last line says, at the last line, Government of the people, for the people, by the people.” But that’s not 26 letters. It’s 44 characters but if you actually look at those, there are 11 E’s and 6 O’s.

So, when you strip all the doubles away, you end up with not 44 characters but simply 14. And somehow, with 14 characters, I’ve got a marshal, an army, or stop a war or change your life with 14 characters of the alphabet somewhere when you are on a train and I can’t be there with you, and expect you to rebuild it in your mind that is difficult. You’ve all heard this.

Jonar Nader: Indeed, these were the words from Gibran himself. And Gibran wrote these words when John F. Kennedy was eight years old. And John F. Kennedy used those words but he was ill-advised because if JFK was saying, “My fellow citizens, ask not …” to these Americans, “… what your country can …” Gibran wasn’t – didn’t mean that. This is from a long essay. It’s a beautiful essay called New Frontier and you can find it on internet. Gibran was actually to the likes of President JFK. How dare the President turned it back to the people. Gibran was saying to the president, don’t you get into public power and position and work thing that this is for you, mate. You’re there to serve your people.” And the next sentence was, “And if you are a member of the church or clergy for goodness sake, you’re not there to fatten your belly you’re there to serve the others.”

Truly, these are Gibran’s words. I could tell you what he said about corporations and banks but really he is saying, “Look outwards and stop looking inwards.”

Okay. So, we’ve got 26 letters or 14 letter of the English alphabet that I have to string together or the writer does and gives them to you and they’re there until you construct them and that has to evoke emotion and evoke action. Is that hard work or what? Because it could have been as easy as starting a war, wouldn’t it? If it was just kind of a detailed as essay. Is that difficult or what?

Okay. I know there are mathematicians in the room who would say, “No, no, no. Math is much harder.” Math is definitely harder than English and writing. Well, that’s handle it with this question. Indeed, when you look at an equation or any sort of problem at school, you would see something like this, X minus A times X minus B times X minus C time X minus D, and X minus E. Now, if you have to sit there and work that out, you’d have to write this stuff like this and the teacher would give you ten out of ten. That’s fantastic. And then you’d go to the next grade and the teacher said, “And now, you multiply that by X minus F.”

Then you broke it well and look like this. And then when you get to a little bit higher, you know, as far as 15 years old, when you get to 15 years old and they give you this equation and say, go all the way to X minus Z. Well, to go to all the way to Z, there would be 134 million phrases and that’s about 670,000 pages so it’s easy to say math is much harder. But no, math is easier because when I say to you, what’s 100 times 2, you don’t sit there counting 101, 102, do you? We have shortcuts. And you know when I say to you 100 times 2, you know it’s 200. You don’t sit there working it up. And when I show you – if you show me to sit there and write 670,000 pages because if you did, it would look like this. Please now write 670,000 pages. You wouldn’t. A child of 15 cannot read those books and work it out in ten minutes.

Yet, an author who writes a complete shelf of 670,000 pages. Is there a shortcut to literature? What is the shortcut? There isn’t. And no child of 15 can read those books and work it out in ten minutes.

Music – hang on, perhaps music is harder than writing. Well, when musician writes something or composes something, they don’t need your keyboard and say, “There you go, darling. I composed something for you.” No. They play it for you. And not only the musicians play one note at a time they put their entire 10-key designed keyboard and play.

A writer cannot put ten anything and play because if a writer has a thought and wanted another thought on top of it, they would like this. It’s just impossible. But a musician can have 10, 20, 30, 60 pieces in an orchestra to play rhythm. And the other fantastic thing is this. That in music, you have a beat. When a writer writes, you are far away from them. And here we are, decades later from Gibran, decades later.

And we are expected to read Gibran’s work and know the beat and that is hard. So, it takes a very skilled writer to be able to write and quiver and beat your heart so you can get into the rhythm of the philosophy.

Now, how many people in the audience can play this? This is called the tabla [drum]. And this gives us the beat. And I have for you an expert in this area who is going to demonstrate how this works so I can show you how in fact music is so much easier than writing.

Ladies and gentlemen, would you please welcome Nabi Charr to play the tabla for us. Come on, Nabi.

Jonar Nader: Show us how this works.

Jonar Nader: And now, we’re going to add some percussion so we’ll bring out the Daff [tambourine]. Khalid, please join us on stage.

Jonar Nader: And for the soul, we need the nai. The nai is the flute. Would you please welcome, Tony Chalitta on the nai.

Jonar Nader: And the most beautiful of Arabic instruments will be oud [guitar]. Please welcome Nabil.

Jonar Nader: We need one more, the violin. Please welcome, Emad.

Jonar Nader: Thank you. A round of applause, ladies and gentlemen.

Jonar Nader: Now, a writer doesn’t have the richness of agony and agony and agony, They have to work with the 14 letters or the 26 letters and they have to work it one at a time. There’s no such thing of an orchestra playing multiple 10 notes at a time, 60 people at a time. The writer has to do it one little bit at a time.

So, what about the sculptor? Is sculpture harder than writing? When you say the brilliant thing about sculpture is that it is in fact three-dimensional but you can start looking at a piece of art from any – which way you like, three-dimensional whereas the writer has to suffer the flat process of one word at a time.

Now, I’ll show you what would happen. If the writer gets it in the wrong order, you see with the sculpture, you can start anywhere you like, with writing you cannot start anywhere you like. You have to start at the same spot because if you start to mean something, you sound a great teacher and if you don’t get those in the right order, you’re insane and a great teacher.

You might go to your bank and say, “Really, I’d buy the debit card.” But then you might actually accidentally say that I have bad credit. Sequence is vital. And you have to be patient enough with the sequence.

Now, the most wonderful of pieces of architecture in terms of sculpture for me is the tree. It’s a wonder I don’t fall down when walking because I’m always looking up and I think trees are just absolutely marvelous when it comes to sculpture and God’s creation.

Now, the tree of Lebanon is the cedar tree, the ariz as we call it. And you know, Lebanon’s name comes from this start, from this vision that we see what. And the word Lebanon comes from the word lubnan which means white. And this was the vision of this white. Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East that doesn’t have a desert. And whether it’s summer or whether it’s winter, it is divine to see this cedar tree. And this is the tree that really represents Lebanon on the flag, the Lebanese flag.

Now, there was a Lebanese cedar tree in Sydney at the Royal Botanic Gardens that was donated to Sydney 100 years, 126 years ago and this tree is the one, donated from Lebanon and here it is in Sydney but unfortunately the roots are going to salt water and had to be chopped down. So, word got out and this lady in red you see was interrupting. Someone was trying to take great photo and then she’s saying, “What? They’re tearing that down?” And that lady was Lama Mourad and she called her husband in and he comes in a little bit later and he says, “Oh my goodness, how could we chop this tree down?” He knew it had to be done. But he also heard it can be pulped and he said, “Not over my dead body. You wouldn’t pulp it.”

So he waited until they chopped it down. And what did he do with it? He took it home. And he rescued this tree all the way from Lebanon. It stood in Sydney for 126 years and he began to ponder and write and think and draw until he came up with some sketches.

Now, Tom Mourad has been a sculptor in his head since the age of 8 and he entered the profession at the age of 19. And he then began to sculpt. And would you like to see what he had sculpted? Ladies and gentlemen, I will unveil to you the wonderful work of the very cedar tree by Tom Mourad.

Jonar Nader: Now, this particular piece is not from that tree but these three pieces here are, and this is the first one, and Lama Mourad and Tom Mourad are with us today. You can check on table 25. We can give them a round of applause.

Jonar Nader: Lama has the job also of naming them and she called this Rebirth. And this is one piece from the cedar tree. In fact, Tom has 50 pieces from that cedar tree.

Now, as I conclude, as I conclude, Gibran himself knew that writing was difficult. He knew that communication was difficult. And his only solution at the end was to say to his friends, “I wish we could condense the language to seven words.” He knew that it was very difficult to communicate and still tried his best and he succeeded with the art.

What were those seven words that he believes are at the core of humanity? I should share them with you and will encourage to speak about this with your friends. Let us see which were the seven words that Gibran chose, you, I, give, God, love, beauty, and earth.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I hope that in this short time that I brought you along with me to the proof points that Gibran in my books, he was a genius. There are a number of speeches beyond me. We assume you’re enjoying your dessert and I thank you very much for having me.

Greg Ward: Ladies and gentlemen, I would ask you once again, please put your hands together for Mr. Jonar Nader.

Greg Ward: Now, Jonar did say that there are many speeches after him but we cannot let Jonar get away without thanking him here on the stage. So, I would like to welcome here to the stage The University of Sydney’s Executive Director of External Affairs and Officer of Foundations, Marion Theobald. Come and join us please.

Marion Theobald: Thank you very much. That was not a keynote. That was a multimedia extravaganza. I would just like on behalf of The University of Sydney and the Australian Lebanese Foundation, everybody who’s here tonight to say thank you very much to Jonar for a wonderful keynote address. And to also thank you for all the commitment and care and passion that he’s put to making tonight possible.

Jonar Nader: Thank you very much. Wow. [Jonar reads the inscription from the gift he was given, being a large book from the Gibran Museum] ‘These are the children of Lebanon; they are those who migrate with nothing but courage in their hearts and arms, but who return with wealth in their hands and a wreath of glory upon their heads.’ Thank you very much.

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