The world has looked like a very tortured place of late. Hot on the heels of the global financial meltdown we have terrible natural disasters in New Zealand and Japan and much of the Arab world either having or about to have a barney. And then last week we had Comic Relief and the reminder of how bad the business as usual world can be.
I suppose one of the modern wonders if the extent to which we are exposed to the, sometimes visceral, emotions associated with global events. There is no doubt that I, and many others, were impacted by the images from Japan. And you only need to look at the record total raised by Comic Relief to see how much people care about everything they are trying to do.
I watched the two part documentary of the 4 celebrities living in the Kenya slum of Kibira and found it quite compelling, shocking and moving in equal measure. They were very brave to take that on and go beyond the “turn up for 5 minutes to do a piece to camera” thing. I particularly liked how Lenny Henry stepped outside the accepted boundary and decided to take direct action. Sure, he didn’t help everyone, but he had made a connection with the kids he was with and it is entirely human and laudable to react how he did. I donated money on the back of that; as I’m sure many did.
As a Fellow of the RSA, I was delighted to hear that Sir David Attenborough was doing the 2011 President’s Lecture. And, through the wonders of the day, I watched it avidly on YouTube. It is, as ever, a piece of wonderful oratory and compelling listen.
At the time of writing, it has been watched 3341 times on YouTube, considerably less than the worst song ever (or whatever it is). And yet it could contain one of the most important lessons mankind needs to learn.
Please take the time to watch it.
Or you can watch it here. I urge you to do so.
And then reflect back on the wonderful work of Comic Relief and how much people have done to help the people on the planet.
The juxtaposition is stark. Most of us watch nonsense on YouTube. Some of us take great steps to help the unfortunate in the world. Some of us do both by watching the crappy videos and chucking Comic Relief a few quid. Some people, like Sir David, try to encourage us to look at the underlying issues and try to prevent suffering, not merely improve it. But only a few people are listening. If you feel you can, please encourage people to watch Sir David’s speech.
The sobering thought is, the collective selfishness of us all will likely mean that that the prophesies in Sir David’s speech are likely to come true. Whether individually, or as governments, we are simply too compelled by our inherent selfishness and focus on the now to take any bold steps at all. I wish I believed that there would be an epiphany; that somehow a power emerged above national or religious imperatives to take a view across the world and it’s people and legislate globally for the better of all. But I actually don’t believe that will ever happen.