‘Social Distancing’ and other forms of ‘Newspeak’

How are you coping as the whole world moves widely into the ‘new normal’ of dealing with the flow on effects from the coronavirus pandemic?

We are all being effected in some way, whether it is the lack of toilet paper, hand sanitiser, pain killers or other basic grocery items that we have all taken for granted.

To the social distancing isolation policies that are sweeping our society in it’s many forms, e.g. tourists being quarantined, doctors seeing patients in the medical centre car park; cafes, bars and restaurants closing, cruise ships being turned away and sporting, music and literary events being cancelled.

The popularity of the zombie apocalypse genre of movies and books is probably also feeding into the panic buying as unschooled ‘preppers’ waste their money on toilet paper.

Okay, and the world financial markets may be in free fall, but to be fair, they have been overdue for a correction for a decade now.

However, it is not all doom and gloom!

Collectively, we can still maintain social connectivity through various social media.

Stay positive and strong, don’t panic and look out for our neighbours. After all, it is the strength of our diverse communities that will help us all to survive.

And of course, you may get a chance to get stuck into that good collection of unread books on the bedside table!

So join Goodreads, and share what you are reading with your friends and let us take a leaf out of the Italian’s book, where they are having neighbourhood sing-a-longs from their apartment windows. (Not that you would want to her ME singing!)

Mandy Hager On The Evil Politicians Do

Reproducing this with kind permission from the President of the NZSA, Mandy Hager. An article from the Kāpiti Independent News today.

Mandy Hager On The Evil Politicians Do

The questions that keep me awake at night . . . 

As a writer of fiction, I spend my days thinking myself into the heads of others, in order to understand their values and motivations.

Over the years, I’ve placed myself in the minds of unhappy teens, colonised populations, cult victims, 12th century French nuns and misogynist philosophers, rabble rousers, environmental activists and even orca! 

But, try as I might, I can’t understand the people who have systematically pillaged our environment and natural resources, and who continue to feed the flames of climate denial and do everything in their power to halt mitigation measures in their tracks.

What future can they imagine?

Believe me I’ve tried. I’ve asked myself what they must think as they look at their children and grandchildren and imagine their futures?

Have they so thoroughly insulated themselves that they believe they will somehow be immune to the horrors downstream?

Perhaps they have.

Perhaps they think their underground bunkers, excessive hoarding of wealth, total emotional disconnection from the suffering of ordinary people, or dreams of escaping to Mars, will protect them?

But what do they tell themselves when they know that millions of people will be displaced, die terrible deaths, starve, dehydrate, burn, drown, and be caught up in the conflicts that will inevitably erupt? How does someone justify this to themselves? I truly don’t know.

Are our politicians exempt?

It would be easy to dismiss these worries on the grounds that they are the few — the one percent — and that our own politicians, in our safe little country, hold the lives and futures of their constituents in much higher regard. But do they? 

As the election year kicks in and our political parties start to position themselves, what is one to make of people who continue to back fossil fuels and intensive, agro-led farming over the health, wellbeing and futures of our young people?

The dollar signs that blind

Do they truly believe this is the right path? Do they truly think that somehow they, in their great estimation, know more about the climate and the health of our natural systems than those who have spent their lives becoming experts in their fields? 

Or do they only see as far as the dollar signs that blight their eyes?    

And what are we to make of people who announce themselves as upright citizens, yet undermine our democracy with misinformation, attacks, dirty money and lies?

Do they look at themselves in the mirror and see virtue? Really truly? If so, how did we create such people? And why do we privilege them with representing us, when it’s clear they’re only representing the interests of a chosen few?

Or what of those who hold themselves as better than another person, another race, another gender, another belief system?

Do they ever question whether they might have got it wrong? Or those who withhold information from police, when they know someone has committed an appalling crime?

What goes on in their heads? And how did our society do such a terrible job of socialising and educating our citizens, that they could possibly think that leaving a four-year-old boy with permanent brain damage, or raping and killing a young woman, or setting your children and ex-wife alight, is something they can countenance?

Kindness, compassion and those who sneer

When our Prime Minister speaks of kindness, and models her compassion for the world to see, what is going on in the minds of those who sneer and call it posturing, as if it doesn’t reflect the core values of the country they were raised in? What’s hardened them? What’s made them so angry and ideologically driven that they can spew out hate and feel secure in doing so?

I don’t have these answers. I find I can’t even begin to understand. But I do know that if we allow these kinds of destructive behaviours to continue to infect our politics and decision-making, and/or our day-to-day lives, we’re well and truly fucked.