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The Global Issue

James Robinson



Even way down in New Zealand, we count. We are a piece of the global puzzle. There are global events that happen every so often which no matter who we are, or where we are, affect us. You probably would have already had the “where were you when Kennedy got shot/ the Berlin wall came down/ man landed on the Moon?” conversation with your parents. Every generation has events that define it.
Us? Well what do we have? What global events are forever embedded in my mind?
I can remember clearly the moment I found out that Princess Diana died, but for me that held no lasting political significance, and was a day made more memorable for me by a drunk and upset Christ’s College matron.
We’ve got 9/11. We’ve got 7/7. We’ve got the invasion of Iraq. We’ve got Bush being elected. None of these events are uplifting, none represents the triumph of man or defeat of evil. I can remember where I was for all the events I listed above (and sadly enough with three of them I was drunk, at home, on the couch), and each of them created debate, derision and fear, even as far out of the way as we are. Add in the vast array of peripheral political developments (nuclear proliferation among developing countries, dishonest and deceitful administrations etc.) and mix in an array of other time-specific apocalyptic fears and what do we have: doom. Sigh. Apocalypse – the great leveler. And let’s face it, that whole ‘humanity is fucked’ message is getting played out a lot these days. It would appear that things have got a little worse for us.
But let’s talk this through a little bit. A lot of this gloom comes from the newspapers. Apocalypse sells. We had front-page earthquake fever last year. Bird flu. Oil prices. Terrorism. Nuclear war. Global warming. The media likes a good moral panic. But what good does it do? What do we solve when we simply run around with our hands in the air screaming? And anyhow, a quick flick over moral panics of old brings up a few long forgotten gems. Whatever happened to Y2K? Remember SARS? No planes fell out of the sky, and those facemasks were the closest we’ve ever come to a Michael Jackson revival. And hey, wasn’t bird flu supposed to have killed a whole heap of us already? Haven’t we grappled with nuclear fears and mutually assured destruction before?
That being said, things have gone a little sour. And many serious problems don’t get the same coverage as the easy sell issues. Human rights are violated on a daily basis by those promoting the ideology of ‘freedom’, who in the name of protecting the many, often throw away the rights of the few out the window. Governments play the global warming card at the same time as hopping into bed with big business. Commuters are held hostage by oil prices, and we are still cripplingly dependent on oil – which becomes even scarier when you think of the increasing industrialisation of China and India. Again, I could go on.
But we’ll get there, because people are starting to take notice. It may be a little later than it probably should have been, and our window for change may be a little smaller than what it should have been, but it’s far from closed. It is made harder to get a read on though, reality has never been so mediated and narratives are controlled. Governments ignore, the media sensationalises and the doomsdayers go about predicting their own version of pretty little doom. There are so many competing ‘truths’ that sometimes you have to look a little harder and read between them all.
Because (well to me) apathy is the only sure fire way to the guaranteed end of this planet. The thing about all of this is that I really believe that we don’t actually crave the end of the world. Mr. Big Business, drilling for oil in Texas, or Mr. Terrorist Leader, seeking an end to American sanctioned Israeli occupation of Palestine, will probably seek alternative options when faced with crushing evidence that whatever button they are about to push will cease the existence of everything.
The global issue to me is survival – and survival is an instinct that goes beyond any form of conspiracy. Look around you as you type on your computer, drive a car, flick a light switch and think to yourself what we’re capable as a race when we put our minds to it. So I guess in the decision between continual alarm and hope, I’m choosing hope. (Famous last words…)
Have a little faith people. We made machines that can fly – and have you not heard of this thing called robots? The moving image? I’m pretty sure we can come up with an alternative source of fuel and other solutions to these vexing issues.
And y’know what? If we mess things up totally there’s always space. Sweet little three bedroom cottage on Mars anyone?