The following piece appears in my monthly column for Swan Magazine.
Is it just me or do these end of year columns seem to be coming around quicker every 12 months? This year as I ponder the increasing likelihood of a clandestine union between the Easter Bunny and Santa at the rear of an IGA somewhere, I find myself thinking about the past 12 months as the Year of Humanity.
Most of you will remember the unfathomable images from the Lindt Café siege. Little did we know that a mere two and a half years later we’d be asked to comprehend even more bizarre images. The loss of at least 22 innocent young lives during the London Ariana Grande concert was the first. Weeks later came the London Grenfell Tower fire, and five months on the Las Vegas music festival where a lone gunman took 59 lives, the ‘deadliest shooting in US history’. Add to that the increasing incidence of vehicles being used as weapons and your innate reaction is to shut up shop, close ranks and look after your own.
Amidst all this I often found myself pondering the sanity behind television stations playing the vision. Yes, it’s news, Yes, we need to be aware of the world we live in, but surely just as oxygen fuels fire, media coverage creates copycats, or so it would seem.
If this is the case, as it was deemed years ago with suicides, then why can’t we give equal air time to positive images? Images reflecting the world we want to live in, not the world thrust upon us.
In contrast, during these events it was heart-warming to witness the outpouring of humanity on social media. Facebook, frequently demonised for bullying, proved to be a source of solace as the world united online to raise funds for those affected. The vast majority of comments reflected the mutual desire for a peaceful existence, and yet these reactions received little mention in mainstream media, at least not that I recall.
Take another example …
An equally heart-warming image was found in the most unlikely of places, a new local reality cooking show called Family Food Fight. Six Australian families from Greek, Italian, Asian, Lebanese and Anglo-Saxon backgrounds laughed, cried and even helped each other out during the competition. Not even the $100,000 prize money could stop them. What a wonderful display of multicultural success when the full of life Shahrouk sisters won. Not since 2015 when interloper Freddie Flintoff emerged from the jungle to win I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and a place in our hearts, have we seen what Australia is capable of becoming.
Aside from dishing up some good family entertainment and fabulous meals the cooking show highlighted the similarities across cultures. The messages were there to be seen in the participants actions, rather than having them thrust upon us like a lecture. The main lesson being the power of love, especially during stressful times. I’ll long remember the sight of one of the Shahrouk sisters cooking her husband some eggs, simply because he’d asked for them, even though she was in the middle of a grand finale. Such a shame the show was confined to one network.
Contrast that with what’s happening in Parliament. Without getting involved in ‘sides’ and ‘who said what’, it appears that while multiculturalism is acceptable around the dinner table, not so when running the country. Not satisfied with being known for our revolving leadership door, this year anyone with dual citizenship was swiftly shown the exit. Perhaps anyone wanting to enter Parliament should be subjected to an Ozzie bake off. Allegiances to the flag could be demonstrated by one’s ability to make a Country-Women’s-Association-worthy lamington (not a pavlova, definitely not a pavlova).
But don’t’ get disheartened, like any good story, the last act of 2017 looks to be ending on a high.
Just like the Montagues and Capulets in Romeo and Juliet, the Royal Family has provided hope to the world with the begetting of England and America. Did anyone else notice that the proposal came during a cooking challenge? The roasting of a chook no less. See what I mean, I think we’re on to something.
Perhaps the answer to solving the world’s problems lies in holding a special “World Leaders Family Food Fight”. I can just see Trump and Jong-un setting aside their differences as they combine forces to create the ultimate cherry blossom, rocket shaped croquembouche. As they carry their creation to the judging table, where we ‘the people’ reside, we can just make out the quiet murmurs of Trump as he looks into Jong-un’s eyes and hums the Elton John tune voted most popular by global citizens, Your Song … ‘how wonderful life is now you’re in the world’.
What can I say, as we enter the season of good tidings and wishes a girl can dream. Here’s hoping the first major event, the opening of the new stadium, will signal a year of opportunities to advance humanity and build bridges, if not a physical one.
Thank you for reading my scribbles for another year. Wishing you all a happy, healthy, safe holiday period.