S Sorrensen’s Here & Now: News On or Off?

Image S Sorrensen

My place. Wednesday, 7.46pm

After a week of rain, today began as a shiny jewel, the sun glinting off droplets still hanging from leaf and gutter, still hanging in from yesterday’s deluge.

Yeah, it was a beautiful day. I rose from the bed, stretched in the sun, drank a glass of really fresh water, made coffee from local beans… a perfect day.

Then it all went wrong.

I turned on the radio and listened to the news. Oh dear.

Some bloke was talking about drug-testing people on unemployment benefits. I knew he was a politician even before the interviewer said so, because he spoke in that fake, disingenuous, deceitful, smug and arrogant way that politicians use when they trying to convince people they’re sincere. Plus he said ‘jobs’. A lot.

Drug-testing unemployed people is to help them, the pollie explained.

Metaphorically, the sun went behind a cloud and my coffee curdled. I shouldn’t let it affect me, but how did we end up with a bunch of coward liars peddling themselves as leaders, snouts in the trough, creating issues where there are none so as to avoid the real challenges Australia is facing and the real electoral responsibilities they have. Why are they beating up on unemployed people while rich scammers get taxpayer-funded subsidies?

‘Maybe, you should drug-test politicians before they collect their pay,’ I say back to the radio. Uselessly.

Why don’t I just turn off the radio? you ask. Or change the channel? Or put something funky on the turntable? Or just enjoy the natural sounds of a day preening itself in sunlight?

Yes, I could do that, but I need to know what’s happening in the world, even if it is depressing and makes me angry. That sounds weird, I know. Why subject myself to the awful news, when I’m in a paradise lit by a washed sun, perfumed by freshly ground coffee?

Good question.

I once asked Bob Brown this question. (Yes, I’m name-dropping. But it’s the only name-drop I have. Unless you know Barry the Bum…) I’d met Bob a few times when he was fighting against environmental catastrophes perpetrated by government. (Jobs, jobs, jobs.) He always had a smile on his face – which seemed odd given that he knew more about the dreadful state of environmental affairs than just about anyone else. But he was happy. How could this be?

He reckoned that there are two ways you can go: You can go into denial, isolate yourself from what’s happening in the bigger picture and party like it’s 1999 – or you can embrace the awful reality and fight against injustice.

Surely the first would lead to a happier life, I said.

Depends on who you are. Denial wasn’t for him, Bob said. Denial works two ways. Not only are you shielded from the bad, you are also shielded from the good. You may not have to endure hearing some dick prattle on about drug-testing the unemployed, but you also can’t let yourself fully enjoy the beauty of the world around you because it may bring up the sadness of the world’s suffering, a sadness you’ve worked hard to deny.

If you acknowledge the sadness, the beauty can be appreciated in all its passing glory.

I feel the sun on my face. The coffee smells good. The world is a beautiful world, despite the political/industrial complex that threatens it, and today is a sparkling gem despite the radio where a pollie is now bleating that cutting tax rates for rich people actually benefits poor people.

As Barry the Bum once said to me while picking up a cigarette from the footpath outisde Centrelink, ‘Sure, times are tough, but this durrie has hardly been touched!’

4 responses to “S Sorrensen’s Here & Now: News On or Off?”

  1. Mark says:

    “It is a sad and beautiful world” Jim Jarmusch from Down By Law.

  2. Vince Kean says:

    Sean you are depressingly intelligent and clear sighted but as you say it is a beautiful world and you leave me with a smile on my face. Thank you.

  3. Linda Wirf says:

    Love your work S

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers and is brought to you by this week's sponsors Vast Furniture & Homewares Ballina and Falls Festival Byron Bay.