My place. Monday, 10.10am
The collective human personality has always been violent, sure, but once upon a time there was limit, when a man went down, the fight was done.
Once upon a time, when Christmas day arrived, the bullets stopped and men sang hymns to the God of peace.
Once upon a time, land was honoured and protected as the source of life.
Now, you go in with the boot until the brain is haemorrhaging, the water poisoned, and the schools bombed, Ramadan or not.
It’s getting vicious, this human community, both to its members and to the planet which birthed it.
Twenty years ago, for instance, if you had said to Australians that the Great Barrier Reef is half dead and will be totally wrecked by the end of this century, there would have been shock and horror.
People would have been outraged that such a natural wonder, a national icon, a flashing jewel in Australia’s tiara, would be threatened by government-condoned corporate vandalism. People would have demanded remedial action. Of course.
But the response to this reef reality has not been a hue and cry, but rather a silence so complete, you can almost hear the coral, weighed down by the dredged sludge and coal dust, cracking off to thump dully onto an over-phosphated sea bottom.
Well, you could hear it, if it wasn’t for The Voice, and for excited radio voices extolling Australian prowess in the pool and on the battlefield. And how real is the awful reality when it’s wedged between a dancing cat and ‘What rock song are you?’ on Facebook?
And where is this frightening truth when you’re sipping coffee and eating fresh baklava in a Turkish resort only a hour’s drive from huge camps where desperate Syrian refugees wait for bread and peace? And is there really a crisis if you have a vacuum cleaner that drives itself?
Yes, the distraction of a million things is disconnecting us from reality and creating a ferocious humanity.
This makes me sad.
In fact, the weight of this sadness made me lie in bed this morning, unable to get up. I listened to the bush turkeys scratch through the garden. A kookaburra made the sun rise and poke its fingers into my shack. The phone rang, twice.
The sadness threatened to wrap my life in a suffocating despair as completely as corporate rule has wrapped the planet in plastic.
This morning, I saw the activities that fill my laptop calendar for what they really are: insulation against the chilling planetary truth. I hid under the doona.
Finally, opening my eyes to the morning glare, I saw the televison sitting there, smirking. The computer made a ping; my phone a beep-beep. Printer, radio, back massager, an empty jar collection, a picture of a virgin mother, a wind-up Superman…
Then an idea came to me: If it really is the one million things that are disconnecting me from the planet, then… I will chuck them out! All of them!
I will not fiddle with the remote while Rome burns. Unencumbered, I will regain my humanity. Undistracted, how could people possibly allow the reef to die?
Inspired, I jumped out of bed and grabbed the television. To the tip!
Then I hesitated.
Okay, maybe not the television. (Firefly has taught me much.) And maybe not the turntable. (What is life without Billie Holiday?) And I need the computer. (I am Brown Sugar.)
The radio has flood reports, Superman inspires me, the virgin with child is my therapy, and my back needs massaging.
But, I tell you what, the empty jar collection is going.