Collective Helplessness.

The problem with the local news is that it tells a disempowering story.  One where we are always the victim.  We, the local people, should feel scared, terrified, disgusted.  These atrocities are happening in our neighbourhood, in our streets, in our neighbour’s house.  And there is nothing we can do.  Just be on the lookout, be wary, be cautious.

It is true that these things are happening, yes.  But why do we need to know?  So that we can continue to be paralysed by fear and so that fear can be used again to hook us in to the cycle of fear.  Watch again to see if they’ve caught the killer.  Watch again to get the ratings up.  Watch again so that the billionaire at the top can take his yacht out in Cannes this afternoon.  If the purpose is to inform us, then there are many ways to get a suspects face out into the public; social media being the more obvious place in modern society.

But the sharing of crime and negative stories are not part of a bigger solution.  By sitting in the comfort of our homes and watching this daily droll, we are indirectly supporting the cycle of continuity.  If we were really appalled by these people, these behaviours, this constant stream of assault and death and horror; then wouldn’t it be more beneficial to support the circuit breakers?

Let me explain.

  1. Mr Smith kills Mr Jones – random attack, assailants not known to each other, Mr Smith has a history of mental illness and violence, and is known to police.
  2. Media goes wild.  The attack happened in an affluent area, neighbours remark that they thought this was a “safe place to raise children”, a shot of a nice car driving down a nice street pans away.
  3. We, the public, watch this and immediately react either consciously or subconsciously.  Our mind, hearing upon the threat of death races into fight or flight mode.
  4. We take a sub-second check of all the things that mean something to us; our family, our partner, our friends, our safe neighbourhood.
  5. Then we react, rightfully so – fear, disgust, sadness, anger, hopelessness.  Another morning or evening news session and another reason for our body to recoil into an unhealthy stress response and cement our victim mentality.

We feel sick, or worst of all, we feel nothing.  We are used to seeing this on the screen.  It’s a daily story that is the same but usually the characters and the location change a little.  We are educating ourselves by watching.  We are being presented information that we did not previously have, right?  – “News”.

But what is “news” if it is only telling 0.1% of the story.  Not lies but not complete pictures either.  I mean, last night, one person was murdered in my city.  Actually horrific, terrifying, and scary. Uncomfortable to think about.  But what about the 5 million that didn’t murder last night?  What about the 5 million people that cooked an average meal, watched some shitty reality tv show, spent more time checking their emails and social media than talking to their spouse and then went to bed; tossing and turning for a good 45 minutes before waking up before their alarm went off to the dog barking?  What about those stories.

Well, they’re boring, aren’t they.  They don’t serve to inform of us any impending danger or give us any new information or entice a certain heightened response from us.  But these stories are important.  Because we have forgotten them.  We have forgotten that the majority of the stories not being told are overwhelmingly positive.  That the majority of us are surviving and thriving and cooperating with each other as best we can.  Not only does this story need to be told, it needs to be celebrated.

5 million people went about their business today without punching one person in the face.  50,0000 of those crazy fuckers even held a door open for someone.  2 million gave way to another car in a merging lane (still another million who haven’t quite grasped the concept but we are not perfect).  3.5 million walked in to their houses last night and received a hug or kiss within the first five minutes of arrival.  This mass wave of connection, kindness and contact occurring between the hours of 6:00pm and 7:00pm sent a huge burst of positive energy into the world and should be applauded.

But instead we focus on the 0.1% who chose not to choose kindness.  We give them air time and our energy.  Which would be ok if that was energy towards a proactive response. But instead it steals a piece of our most precious asset, time, and takes with it the recoil of joy.  Our victim mindsets are cemented and our learned helplessness continues.  What if we saw this story of Mr Smith and Mr Jones and got to choose one of the following responses:

  1. Press A – to donate money to this relevant local health service
  2. Press B – to encourage your local politician to put more of government spending towards mental health and police services
  3. Press C – to support your community in one of the following areas of early intervention; domestic violence prevention, increased education opportunities
  4. Press D – to educate yourself further on the scientific findings of this mental illness and what the prime causes such as a neglected childhood really do to people
  5. Press E – to feel worried about your own safety but not worried enough to do any of the above

Or you can Press F.  You can vote with your button.  You can turn off this skewed bullshit and you can stop lining the pockets of the people who do not care about your welfare, or your safety, or the safety of your children.  You the individual garner more power than you know, more power than the billionaires and the government, and the media.  But your power is magnified significantly if you use it as a collective.  There are millions of you and together you must remember that the future is hope not death and misery.  But only if you unplug from the negative vomit being spewed into your minds.

If you really want to know what’s happening next door, look out your window.  If you really want to know what happens in your neighbourhood, look at the statistics.  If you really want to know what is happening to your fellow humans on the other side of the world, look outside your mainstream channels.  Search, seek, hunt for the truth.  And then – do something.  If you believe that what is happening is atrocious, as it often is, make the decision to become part of the solution.  As we take our place as the innocent bystander, we stand as much with the perpetrators as we do the victim.

Change is uncomfortable and it takes effort.  Despite this, we all must choose one option.  So, if you are unable to press A, B, C or D – then at least press F and spend your energy with that beautiful, average, law abiding majority this evening.

Here’s some “serious news” to give you encouragement, Zig x

Festival of Dangerous Ideas

In 2015 I came across an email that was sprucing tickets to an intriguing event called the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.  Being the eternal rebel that I am, it was obvious that I was drawn to the mere concept of this yet unknown event.  With a bit of online research, I uncovered what was soon to be a monumental moment in my thus far, frustratingly constructed life.  The bill for this festival was a melting pot of overarching, ethically debated, boundary pushing global topics that brought me instant spouts of joy as I plugged in my preferences for a festival multi-pack (very well priced, if you were wondering).

I chose sessions that were either close to my jaded heart or high up in my fiery pit of societal passions.  It landed here:

  1. Incarceration – a VICE panel on the broken and shameful business that is, our national prison system.
  2. Big Sugar – a look into the ‘new tobacco’; the industry, the lax government regulation and the frightening health and addictive effects of this tasty, tasty treat.
  3. Ceasefire on Drugs – Johann Hari champions the factual campaign of legalisation and re-engagement programs for illicit drugs in lieu of the 100 year failed drug war.
  4. The New Satirists – a real shits ‘n’ giggles session with some of Australia’s best satirists, easy laughs at serious issues to lighten the often heavy festival tone.
  5. Bad Education – a philosophical view of the perhaps not-fit-for-purpose, modern education system.  Basically all I heard was, “exams are unnecessary”.
  6. Dying Europe – a sneak peak into the global dilemmas and impacts of the European Union.  No, at this point, there wasn’t any forethought that the UK would be exiting!

I booked some cheap flights up to Sydney, stayed in a surprisingly lovely hostel on/at/in (?!) The Rocks and had one of the best educational moments OF.MY.LIFE.

What I listened to and pondered over the next few days, quite simply, blew my world apart. I was fascinated, interested, passionate, and obsessed in a way that I had never been before.  Why didn’t I learn about these things in school?  Why was I finally learning about things that seemed more important than the crap I had been force fed in the media?  My mind had been yearning for a different, more truthful learning experience and at 30 years of age, I had finally found it.  It was these sessions that would grow me as a human being, as a global citizen, and as a person that was not constructed from an outdated manual.  I remembered to think and critique objectively.

Look, anyway, what I’m getting at is that FODI is an amazing experience.  It is back on this year at the amazing Sydney Opera House, a location which really adds to the enormity of the ideas exploding within it.  If you are in the area or can get to Sydney during the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of September, then I implore you to choose some subjects close to you heart or otherwise, put your ego back on the bottom shelf and call yourself to action during and post these sessions.

Some interesting sessions this year include; A.C. Grayling’s ‘Closing the Modern Mind’, India’s Age of Extremism, Open the Borders, Apple vs The FBI, Legalise Drugs in Sport (with Stephen Dank yikes!), The Asian Arms Race, Not Worth Living, Gender Doesn’t Matter, The Bamboo Ceiling, US Politics: Even Worse Than It Looks, Stop Fishing the High Seas, Why Don’t We Want To Talk About The Arts, Break a Rule a Day, I Was A Human Guinea Pig, Why Black Lives Matter, Freaks Like Me…and many, many more!!!

Head to Festival of Dangerous Ideas for information and ticketing.

Your future self thanks you.