dealing with difference
At the Lunar Society's 2007 Annual Dinner at the Council House in Birmingham, Trevor Phillips was the Guest Speaker. He concluded his speech with the following words:
"Today there is still too much confusion and misinformation about difference. That confusion is fed by in the darkness of ignorance; it needs to be dispelled by the light of knowledge.
This is the great challenge of the 21st century. The debate about what kind of society this should be is currently the property of people who, frankly, lack the rigour and intellectual capability of you and your predecessors of the Lunar Society. I hope that your invitation tonight presages your determination to take on this most difficult 21st century challenge with the same mix of energy wonder and pragmatism that Preistley, Watt, Boulton, Darwin and others applied to the dilemmas of their time.
If you are, then look forward to a bumpy ride - but what an adventure you'll have.
Erasmus Darwin wrote of the meetings of the Society, damning an illness that made him miss one :
"...what invention, what wit, what rhetoric, metaphysical, mechanical, and pyrotechnical will be on the wing, bandy'd like a shuttlecock from one to another of your troop of philosophers"
Well, Birmingham will face the demands of dealing with difference earlier and more fully than most. I entreat you to put your considerable skills - your professionalism, your intellect, your enthusiasm - to working out here, in the one of the nation's great laboratories of diversity, how we should confront this 21st century challenge.
This is no longer a local issue. It is global. You here, in this room, with your ingenuity and your energy could in the years ahead, become a beacon to the world."
The full text of the speech can be read here.