Just the other night we had a big national entertainment awards night called “the Logies”. The big prize of the night is the gold Logie, for the most outstanding Personality on Australian Television. It was won this time by a guy called Waleed Ali.
He’s an amazing person. My wife was telling me she watched one of those shows that delve into a celebrity’s background, and it turns out he was good at just about everything. He’s a killer guitarist, and played guitar in a professional band called “Robot Child” (maybe he still does). He was apparently school captain, great at sports, won top academic awards in school, is now actively involved as a member of the Global Terrorism Research Centre, member of the Islamic Council of Victoria, and is a regular on one of Australia’s top media shows called “The Project” (which is what he earned the Gold Logie for).
Okay, pretty amazing guy. And then he gives his thank you speech for the award.
Is there nothing he can do wrong? He spoke glowingly of his wife and how he was glad she wasn’t doing the same work as he was because she would be up here right now instead of him – she was “smarter and wittier” than him along with a host of other qualities, but was too busy saving the world with her humanitarian projects. And he meant every word.
He then turned his speech into a stand for equality and understanding. Being an Egyptian and a Muslim, he is not your typical Australian and not everyone is pleased that he is at the top and receiving recognition. He spoke of someone he knew who changed their name from Mustafa, (a real life example) because they just wouldn’t have got ahead in their industry if they hadn’t, and he regarded his win as validation for people like him with weird names (ie not white angle Saxon and therefore at risk of marginalisation). And apparently his win was in the face of opposition – there were some who had questioned his very nomination for the Gold Logies, and that of another non Anglo Saxon, Lee Lin Chin.
Wow – I wouldn’t have thought discrimination of that magnitude was still so prevalent. But that’s for another time.
Back to Waleed. As I think of him I’m torn between feelings of admiration and awe that such a well balanced gifted human being exists, to feelings of unadulterated envy. How the hell did he get so lucky? Why should someone have SO much talent and a great personality to boot? It reminds me of when I see YouTube video clips of bass guitarists who play so amazingly well that I feel like burning my bass guitar and never playing again (I have it on good authority that I’m not the only musician who feels this way when they see geniuses playing).
Now I know no-one’s perfect, so Waleed must have his flaws. I get the impression he’s a pretty ambitious guy (not a bad thing in itself). I reckon that sometimes when he’s tired he gets irritable and cranky (like all of us). And I have a faint suspicion that he played the ethnicity card in his speech at least partly to make himself look good.
Now, if I’m right in those things (if) what does that mean? It means he’s human – thank goodness.
Waleed has come in for his share of scathing criticism, mostly from people who disagree strongly with the moral stances he takes or who are threatened by his Muslim background. There are people who would roll their eyes at the compliments I’ve just given him, with the phrase “oh come on” forming incredulously on their lips. They would probably take the few flaws that I have alluded to and magnify them one hundredfold in their attempt to discredit him in any way they can. No-one is without enemies, and if they are, they are probably not making a difference in the world.
He is good, dammit, and hopefully any flaws that eventually surface (if they ever do) will not be serious enough to change the good that he can do and has done. His glow is not likely to last forever, but people like him can often just keep quietly working away behind the scenes, just like he did before the spotlight found him.
Not that I expect that to happen any time soon.
Waleed I salute you. Now just for me, please, please, go and do something a little silly or dumb. It would make me feel a whole lot better 🙂