There is a Chinese proverb that says “talk does not cook rice”. Very true. But a lot of talk - and writing - takes place between the paddy field and the pot. Words are essential for making ourselves understood, getting things done and, of course, building strong relationships. When words become worthless, confusion reigns. Right now in Australia we are being given a sense of what it would be like to live in a world in which words are meaningless.
So Barack Obama has made another inspirational speech. This is hardly remarkable: we’ve known for some time that Obama makes George W. look like a performing seal, and an inarticulate one at that. Yet even in this context Obama’s speech in Cairo was remarkable. In less than 6000 words he was able to strip bare some of the most complex international politics of the last 100+ years. To read his speech is to wonder what all the fuss has been about. There was much anticipation of this speech. It was always going to involve treading a careful path. How could he raise the issues without raising ire? In the end, Obama didn’t tiptoe the fine line nor stumble over it. He simply strode along it as if it were a red carpet.