Mainstream television’s reporting of natural and other catastrophes has turned the delivery of information about human struggle, the mighty elements, loss and its consequences into nothing more than disaster porn.
Nowhere has this been so evident than with the recent “live” coverage of the Tasmania bushfires.
Late last week and into this one, the south-east of Tasmania burned, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents and holidaymakers as homes and livelihoods, never mind beloved pets and essential livestock perished.
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These past two days I’ve been gazing at my fellow office workers and wondering: If an earthquake struck here, who would be a hero? Who would run back into the crumbling building for a mate, who would risk their life for another?
I had imagined that, of the hundreds of people, a few would shine.
Maybe that chick over there that always looks calm and competent. Maybe not that bloke who can never manage eye contact.
I also wondered what I would do and had a terrifying thought that I would be a panicker, a useless screamer (or swearer, more likely) who only contributed to the chaos.
But, as it turns out, more people are everyday heroes than I thought.
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As human lives and communities are destroyed by floods in Australia, and we recall the devastation of the Haiti quake one year on, it’s appropriate to reflect on the continuing challenge humanity faces to work out how best to master nature.
As much as we can be in awe of the beauty of nature, we should resist the naive nature worship that ignores just how arbitrary and destructive it can be.
While we are in fact part of nature, we are that part of nature that is aware of itself. We are able to imagine and construct ways of shaping and managing nature to neutralise its (and our) dark side.
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