This past week has been a fairly momentous one in many ways. Not only for the wider world and all of the barely anticipated political upheaval, but also for the small dot at the bottom of the South Pacific where everythingsgonegreen resides … aka The Shaky Isles, Aotearoa, New Zealand, which unfortunately, over the past 48 hours, has very much lived up to its former moniker after being rocked by a series of fairly large earthquakes. The largest of those measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale (or 7.8, depending on where you look), claiming two lives, cutting off a large chunk of the upper South Island, and causing major disruption to the nation’s capital. The more than 1,500-plus aftershocks continue as I type this.
|Train to Doomsville|
This kind of thing – seismic activity where you’re simply at the mercy of Mother Nature – certainly helps to provide perspective on all of those other rather insignificant issues in our daily lives, things we often deem to be important beyond all proportion. When in fact, in light of continually feeling unsafe and under threat from a power none of us has any real understanding of, those things aren’t really all that important at all.
The impact of the major earthquake was further exacerbated over the following 48 hours by a fairly large storm – torrential rain and 140kmph winds – which resulted in flooding, land slips (as the earth continued to move), road closures, and yet more mayhem. Without wanting to overstate it, or appear overly dramatic, it offered a (hopefully) brief glimpse into what it must feel like to live in a war zone, when you’re trying to go about your daily business and live life as “normally” as possible, but never quite know what to expect next. Nerves are frayed, loved ones are traumatised, and more significantly, all of the major emergency services are stretched in ways they’re never really fully designed to be. And people end up – by default – operating on very little sleep, which can become a serious issue in itself.
With the heavens opening from above, and the earth moving beneath our feet, it is a little bit like living inside an automatic washing machine permanently set on endlessly repeating the rinse and spin cycles.
None of that is meant to undermine or trivialise the real horror of life for people in places like Aleppo or Mosul, nor indeed the many hundreds of other war zones or hotspots across the globe, where serious loss of life is a daily reality. That, of course, is much worse. Natural disasters tend to come and go (fingers crossed), yet man’s own capacity to destroy his fellow man isn’t ever quite so relenting or forgiving … *waves fist at the sky*.
Which brings me to Donald Trump and the climate of fear he managed to successfully exploit in order to become the most improbable President of the USA we’ve ever seen.
The first thing we must acknowledge is that democracy – or at least a form of it – had its day, and if you believe in democracy, then you must accept that Trump was fairly elected. In the same way we would have accepted it if the flawed but not nearly as dangerous Hillary Clinton had been deemed worthy. Whether I think that was a wise move by the evidently hard-of-thinking wider American populace is irrelevant, but putting on my rather ill-fitting feminist hat, it’s hard to fathom that the most qualified woman in history missed out on the top job to a 70-year-old man with an orange face, unfeasibly bad hair, and absolutely no previous experience.
|It's this big ... his job experience, that is|
A lot has been made of the media’s role in the election and how a vote for Trump was not only a vote for change, not only a vote against the political “establishment”, but also a vote against the mainstream media, which, just as with the insular-looking Brexit debacle earlier this year, completely misread the mood of the people. There’s a school of thought that the media was biased in favour of Clinton and the status quo, and that’s actually difficult to argue with. The notion that people rallied against that is understandable, but Trump gave the media so much source material to work with he became “buffoon-by-numbers” and a walking talking parody who just kept on giving.
It’s easy to point to the media and snigger, but they put no words into Trump’s mouth when he suggested that Obama and Clinton founded ISIS, that climate change was “invented” by the Chinese, when he laughed in the face of the ordinary worker by suggesting it was smart to pay no tax – good luck with that one, with the welfare system, and with the much promised infrastructure investment. It wasn’t the media who promised to build a really rather improbable wall, who “joked” about grabbing women by the "pussy" (sic), who mocked the disabled, or accused minorities of being criminals. It’s not the media promising to ban vast swathes of world’s population from entering the USA based on little more than their choice of faith.
So good luck America, democracy has spoken, you bought the rhetoric, and the bigotry that came with it, so you’ll now get the President you deserve. I can’t add much more, other than to sincerely wish you all the very best with the much demanded “change” that you’re apparently so desperate to achieve. The signs so far don’t look good – he’s already starting to shift his position on a number of things, and clearly if Trump reneges on key election promises, it makes a complete lie of the notion that he's the breath of fresh air out to change our vision of the establishment or established political practices. It'll merely be a case of “new boss, same as the old boss" ... all of those who voted for "change" will end up getting exactly the same thing they voted against. If not something a hell of a lot worse.
Finally, one last thing. The media aren’t going to get off lightly here. This grumble is a little regional and any overseas reader (probably only a couple, to be fair) might not grasp the full context (click here if you must) but when a so-called current affairs programme like (Australia’s) 60 Minutes deems it appropriate to pay a certified creep like Gable Tostee some $150,000 for a “tell all” interview while a family grieves for their daughter, something is seriously wrong with our world.
Surely “all” was already “told” in great painful detail during the widely covered court case which cleared Tostee of blame for Warriena Wright’s death? What kind of world is it where a man can profit so handsomely from the tragic death of a young woman? A death he had – court verdict or no court verdict – some very real direct involvement with. All the while being given the oxygen to lament how traumatised HE is by her death? Poor little Gable. While a family grieves and is forced to fend off even more requests to make comment.
Shame on 60 Minutes, and shame on those who allow this to happen by supporting the sort of tabloid television which seeks to turn creeps into minor celebrities.
Isn’t it already bad enough that we now have a celebrity pretending to know how to run the free world?
Right, that’s me, rant over, moving right along, thank God or Elvis or Ms Deborah Harry that we still have music in our lives …