Rev Morgan Batts— On belay to greatness.
Morgan comes with an interesting background. His parents married in Toowoomba but his father, a civil engineer, has left a lasting legacy in Surfer’s Paradise with the canals and in Mt. Ommaney where he conceived the original plan for development of the area whilst he was a director of LJ Hooker. Unfortunately, his father died during Morgan’s childhood but Morgan, himself, became a quiet achiever in his own right, winning a RYLA award in 1983 and subsequently representing Australia as a Youth Leader in Japan—sponsored by Rotary.
He has been a person in quest of knowledge all his life and has 14 degrees including a doctorate and four *(shortly to be five) masters degrees. The title of his talk includes a mountaineering term and it is his ambition to climb the highest peak in some 265 countries. So far he has climbed about 150 of the, However, Mt Everest might now not be possible. He suffered from hallucinations (his grandmother was sitting just near him in a summer dress and talking to him) and his partner had been smelling peanut butter sandwiches for the past three days!. Apparently, high altitudes and the lack of oxygen will do that to you! But, just some 300m metres from the summit and after resting the night, he got up to climb the rest when he found that his partner had suffered a cerebral oedema.
He asked the question, ‘What would you do if you were not afraid?’ – the idea being that you should challenge yourself. His purpose in life, however, is to spread goodwill and today, it is between Rotary and the Catholic Church. He has been an ordained minister for 25 years and, in fact, today, he celebrates his Jubilee Mass. But he is also a minister in the army (for fifteen years) carrying the rank of Lt Colonel. During thus time he has served in several theaters of operations. However, his job is to lend counsel and assistance to the troops and he will not countenance discussions on the role of troops in operational situations. And, whilst all around him may be carrying weaponry of a frightening assortment, all he ever carries is a cane…even though he is proficient in 14 types of weapons and in hand to hand combat.
He told a couple of stories about people who gained a different perspective on life from him. One was in Iraq in 2008 where it had been the custom of the other side to bombard the base during the early evening. So it was usual that, on hearing the siren, people entered into bunkers for a while. Normally, the shelling failed to reach within even a couple of kilometres of the base to there was little to fear. On this particular occasion, one soldier, built like the proverbial dunny door, tried to needle Morgan but was told by Morgan that he was the most selfish person Morgan had ever met and that he should recant whilst he still had the chance.
Somewhat taken aback by this unexpected criticism, it was further compounded when a shell landed practically at their front door – the closest hit ever that the base had received.. That drew a quick re-evaluation from the soldier!