Like many of you I’ve spent the last couple of days focused on the unfolding tragic events in both New Zealand and Libya. Significantly different events…one inflicted upon the unfortunate people of Christchurch by nature…the other by a deranged leader, willing it seems to pour more pain upon his suffering people.
I went to bed last night and my dreams were filled with horrific moments…images of floods, earthquakes, cyclones & terrified people…obviously affected by this ‘summer of disasters & upheaval’ – remembering of course it is winter for those in the northern hemisphere.
One can only imagine tho what must be going on in the minds of the survivors of the earthquake…many having experienced a similar event only a few months ago, their rebuilt city & residences now partially or fully crumbled around them. A horror indeed.
Yet, from this scene of horror we are already seeing emerge the best of humanity. Positive & motivating scenes of the traumatised immediately putting aside their fears and working together to lift blocks of concrete and other rubble off those who have been crushed or trapped in order to save any life they can.
Regardless of the threat of aftershocks and falling masonry & glass, these courageous individuals work collectively to free their fellow men & women. Joined, and eventually replaced, by brave professional rescue teams, they didn’t discriminate…they didn’t hesitate in their efforts to stupidly ask the race, religion, sexual orientation, political leanings of those laying beneath the debris…they just did what most rational, sane humans do…help anyone in distress.
As I was glued to the TV screen, those scenes of carnage, I could not help but remember the recent dreadful conflict zone images…the Twin Towers of NY…The Pentagon…the Bali bombings…the Iraq War…the bombing of Lebanon…destroyed Afghani buildings & homes.
Chaos & distress caused by the deranged. Terrorists from various nations & religions who use (mythical?) gods & prophets to justify their insane lust for power…their profiteering pre-emptive strikes…their mad obsession with revenge…and hate & fear for others.
Now we see the determined & long-suffering Libyans putting aside their fear in order to stand up to another deranged tyrant. Yes, Gaddafi, like many a loopy leader, will leave devastation in his wake as he desperately attempts to hold onto the last remnants of power, struggles to survive…not unlike the bubonic plague……but there is a remedy to such plagues…courage & rational thinking…planning collectively & using knowledge, experience & technology to resist and cure such maladies.
We will never completely wipe out such human diseases…the rise of tyrants…but we can put in place political, economic and communication systems & networks to ensure the outbreaks lessen…and the deranged do far less damage than in previous times.
Participatory democracies and a wide variety of globally interconnected networks that transmit & receive information are essential safeguards – the latter played a significant role in the generally peaceful Egyptian uprising…whereas, the Libyan authorities have disgracefully attempted to ban any communication with the outside world…the mark of a deranged oppressor…given time and more support from the military we can imagine Egypt’s Mubarak would’ve taken similar draconian measures.
As I watch the New Zealand disaster unfold I can’t help but wonder why anyone would want to inflict such damage on other people, animals, infrastructure, towns, cities, nations…is it not enough that volatile nature wreaks havoc…creates so much damage & chaos?…without some of our political & corporate & military leaders emulating it?
And those who throw peaceful diplomatic efforts aside in order to drink from the vile tasting Well of Hate.
Observing yesterday and today the rise of hope & collective courage in both the streets of Christchurch & Tripoli…I couldn’t help but notice that some across our, too oft stifled, media landscape were far more consumed by sowing the seeds of hate…acting deranged…than providing useful information.
Fox News host Glenn Beck raved & ranted at the camera his outrage…like some desperate creature from a crushed army of Mordor he urged his confused viewers to wake up to the growing Muslim “caliphate”…to recognise “the fist”…the connection between top union leaders supposedly in constant contact with & influencing Obama’s White House…and said socialist-assisted “caliphate”. This is kooky stuff for a mainstream cable TV host.
Beck even clumsily tried to connect the valid teacher union protest movements in Wisconsin & Ohio as part of his latest New World Order conspiracy (Beck is not known for his originality…more his bizarre attitude & thinking…and inconsistency & hypocrisy as a servant for Murdoch).
Paranoid delusions on Beck’s part?…or profiteering opportunism & fear-mongering of the worst kind? Either way…deranged. At a time when many are suffering from natural disasters, conflicts, lack of work & healthcare…and require rational thinking from leaders of all kinds, including the influential in our media…they need unity of purpose…and compassion.
Instead, we get from some grotesque divide & conquer tactics…to benefit the self…and the few…rather than working together to help create “a fair-go-for-all” in these dire times.
But that’s Fox News. Political opportunism, finger-pointing & profiteering before public interest.
Sadly, here in Australia, we have similarly deranged characters who try to project their hate & fear onto others…whilst profiting grandly from their distasteful efforts.
This from ABC’s enlightening & informative Media Watch:
JONATHAN HOLMES: Radio 2UE in recent years has tried to steer a middle path. But in ratings terms, it wasn’t working.
So its owners, Fairfax Media, have appointed a program director who used to do the job for 2GB. And he seems to have brought its programming philosophy with him.
Speaking at the launch to the media website mUmBRELLA, Peter Brennan was anything but complimentary about his predecessors at 2UE
PETER BRENNAN: I think in the past by and large that it’s essentially been, you know, the fish stinks from the head. I think it’s been…I think it suffered from poor management
— mUmBRELLA web video, 2UE Launch, 3rd February, 2011
HOLMES: A fish stinks from the head. So if you think that there’s a smelly subtext to remarks like this…
DAVID OLDFIELD: I’m not here to make chums in the media, or amongst politicians either, I’m here to do my bit, however small, to make our nation ours. That’s right – that it remains ours. The nation I want it to be – for my children. Indeed, the Australia my father would have wanted it to be for his grandchildren.
— Radio 2UE, Mornings with David Oldfield, 17th February, 2011
HOLMES: …then don’t blame David Oldfield. He hasn’t changed his spots. As Peter Brennan puts it:
PETER BRENNAN: David is uh is uh much maligned by many many people because he’s honest. He’s genuine. He believes in what he says. And he believes in Australia.
— mUmBRELLA web video, 3rd February, 2011
HOMES: Course he does. A monocultural Australia. ‘One nation’, you might call it.
And Fairfax Media believes that Morrison and Oldfield can help them outdo 2GB in appealing to the resentments and frustrations of people like David Oldfield’s dad. As General Manager Tim McDermott put it at the launch:
TIM McDERMOTT: We think that within the next couple of years there’s a changing of the guard in talkback radio in Sydney and that’s obvious, there’s a few people who are getting to the end of their radio careers, we want to be ready, and that’s what this is about, generational change.
— mUmBRELLA web video, 3rd February, 2011
HOLMES: In other words, Alan Jones and even Ray Hadley won’t last forever. And when they go, we want Morrison and Oldfield to be able to grab their audience.
But outflanking 2GB on issues like this won’t be easy. On the day before the funerals, 2GB afternoon host Chris Smith ran a little quiz, with prizes, for his listeners. They had to tell him…
CHRIS SMITH: How many asylum seekers killed in the December tragedy will be buried in Sydney this week? Jason, good afternoon.
Jason: G’day mate, was it nine?
Chris Smith: It was not. Geoff.
Chris Smith: No….David?
Chris Smith: No. Valerie?
Chris Smith: TWELVE IS SPOT ON, VALERIE!! You’ve got Rick Stein’s DVD, you’ve got movie passes to True Grit and the book from Kim Scott. Well done to you!
Valerie: Fantastic, thank you very much.
— Radio 2GB, The Chris Smith Afternoon Show, 14th February, 2011
HOLMES: ‘Fantastic’ is one word. ‘Revolting’ might be another.
Agree…over to you.