What Do You Call Entertainment?

Trash collectors comb through a sea of garbage dumped into the lifeless San Juan River in Mandaluyong City on April 19, 2018. Plastic pollution is a major problem in the Philippines, which is listed among the world’s worst offenders.

No, you’re quite right. There’s not been much action on Sparrow Chat for quite sometime now. To be honest I’m so sick of what’s going on in the world I just can’t be bothered to write about it. When you boil it down there’s only one problem in the world, and that’s the human beings who inhabit it. This planet was ticking along very nicely for close to four billion years, and then we arrived.

The planet’s had a few hiccups along the way, but they weren’t all bad. Getting shut of the dinosaurs was probably a good thing. Who wanted those great monstrosities strutting about eating everything in sight. But look what the planet got in exchange: seven and a half billion rampaging individuals hellbent on ransacking their own home just so they can have every darned thing ever invented to make them lazier.

There’s been a glut of TV programs of late about people who can’t, or won’t, keep their houses clean. They stuff them full of every conceivable piece of junk they can lay their hands on. TV cameras go in with people who seem to think they’ve got some weird talent for cleaning up a house, and call it entertainment. It became so popular with viewers, suddenly almost every channel had similar programs running, all competing for the dirtiest, filthiest, properties with the saddest, most inadequate, inhabitants.

Why is that entertainment? How low have we sunk that we can slouch on our sofas with our cans of lager and watch sad people being humiliated in front of us, and kid ourselves we’re being entertained?

Even sadder, and more hypocritical, is that what we are seeing on television is merely a reflection of what we are doing to our planet, our home. We’ve trashed it so much, filled it so full of rubbish and junk, killed off so much of the natural world we once lived with, that we’re causing our atmosphere to become poisoned to such an extent the planet can no longer breathe properly and support us. It’s heating up to a degree that’ll eventually consume all its rubbish, including us, by fire.

Imagine for a moment watching a clean-up programme on the TV, but instead of the ‘cleaners’ setting to work to sort out the detritus, they just turn away and say, “We can do nothing with this, it’s too bad.” Then they take a match and set the house on fire. The camera crew rush outside and film the property as it burns to the ground.

“Ah,” we think from our sofa, with our can of lager, “Now that’s what I call entertainment.”

We Could Learn From The Cows

Last week our local farmer released his cows into a field across the lane from where I live. They’d been enclosed in the barn all winter. What a commotion! They leapt about, kicking their back legs in the air and rushing around like demented things. It took a full hour before they settled down to grazing peacefully at the long grass.

Postings have been non-existent for a while, partly due to other commitments, but mainly because it seems that so much is being written about Covid-19 there seemed little worth adding to the mix. Less obvious, perhaps, is how humanity collectively is reacting to the pandemic and its effects on us.

The answer is that we’re not reacting very well. It seems that we cannot hide ourselves away for very long without needing to break out and create mayhem within our own borders.

The disgusting manner in which US police officers manhandled George Floyd causing his death, is unpalatable in any civilized nation. He is not the first black man to die brutally at the hands or guns of US police officers, so why has this death created such a reaction in so many countries, when others have generated only limited local protests?

Could it possibly be as a result of Covid-19?

For years the news has been regularly peppered with shootings in America generally, and of black people specifically. Yet even when children are gunned down in their schools by fanatics and sick individuals it fails to generate the wholesale reaction we are seeing of late over the killing of George Floyd.

It’s truly splendid to note that in Britain the call has gone out to open up the annals of history and display once and for all the hideously cruel and despicable actions carried out under the banner of the British Empire. Remnants of that ’empire’ are still alive and well today, ingrained by powerful propaganda into the minds of many Brits who consider themselves true patriots, far superior to those whose skins may be tinted differently from theirs.

DEFINITION: Patriot: (Literal) … ‘of the fatherland’

In America, uprisings throughout most of that nation have taken on a fervour never before seen in such intensity. Even ignoring Trump’s ridiculous exaggerations, there can be no doubt this movement has gained a momentum that could have repercussions throughout the whole of the United States.

As always, the lunatics on both political fringes of society have jumped on the bandwagon of anger and frustration emanating from each side of the Atlantic, to cause violence and mayhem. But it’s not just the anarchists who are running amok. In Britain, only this week, the town of Bristol was rocked when a crowd of protesters tore down a statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader from the 17th century whose company transported an estimated 84,000 African slaves to the colonies.

It’s difficult to condemn such an act, but when citizens run amok razing civic structures, setting fire to buildings, and causing mayhem, should we not consider the true implications of their actions?

We accept protests in our societies as a democratic right, so long as they’re peaceful. Rightly so, but violence in any or all of its forms we must condemn and resist. Taken to extremes the use of violence against our societies, by individuals or groups, is a stepping stone to anarchy and a breakdown of law and order, resulting in an overthrow of democratic government  (however imperfect) and the imposition of a much inferior and authoritarian regime.

When the cows of our local farmer were released from their barn, the resulting high spirits sprang from a release of pent up energy and possibly some sense of well-being that the long confinement was finally over. One sense totally lacking with these cattle was the sense of fear. Had fear been instilled in them over their winter sojourn, the resulting antics following their release would have been quite different, and far more violent.

Unlike the farmer’s cows, our lives have been filled with fear over the last three or four months of winter. Suddenly, our cosy, comfortable, lives that we’d been used to since birth, were gone. Confinement indoors, isolated, with its accompanying dread of a deadly virus emanating from the mouths of anyone who came too close, propagandized into our brains by Covid-19 twenty-four hour media news, seemed almost like the end of civilisation as we’d known it. It’s possible it was.

There’s a very real fear that life may never be the same again. The virus still lurks, picking us off one by one if we drop our guard for an instant. Will it return in force as winter encroaches again? Will we be locked away once more, like the farmer’s cows, only with the accompaniment of even greater fear next time. No happy release for us, should Covid-19 stalk the towns and cities once more.

We can do nothing about the virus. We hope the scientists will effect a cure or a vaccine. Many viruses have been eradicated by vaccination on a major scale. Yet influenza and the common cold still exist and flourish, and they are both coronaviruses, like Covid-19.

So we have a sense of high-spirits when our lockdown is lifted, but the fear is still there. Indeed, just removing lockdown increases the fear for many. Confined, we were safe. Outside, the world has taken on a strange, almost malignant, form. It’s no longer secure and safe. Death, like an invisible alien ray, lurks everywhere.

We need to make everything better. But how to do so? Then, suddenly, an explosion of fear-laden emotion blasts around America and across the Atlantic. Change is the answer! Things must change. We’ll start with the vile scourge of racism. Let’s wipe out this horror once and for all. We can’t eradicate the virus, but we can purge ourselves of other bad things.

Like the cows let into the field we have a way now to exorcise our pent up energy and emotions. Unlike the cows we still have to deal with our fear, and fear is a negative and violent emotion, particularly when instilled into populations en masse. Dealing with that fear has produced violent responses and civic unrest on an almost unimaginable scale.

The cows are a part of the animal kingdom to which we, Homo sapiens, also belong. Had the cows been fearful over winter they would have reacted much more violently on their release, just as many of us have done on ours. Without Covid-19 it’s unlikely the unlawful killing of George Floyd would have raised any more of a protest than any of the many other unlawful police killings, or mass shootings, so prevalent in America.

Perhaps, if we had only universally recognised and accepted our membership of the animal kingdom, instead of constantly proclaiming our superiority over it, and detachment from it, we might possibly have escaped Covid-19 altogether.

Science tells us the virus came about because of our destruction of natural habitats to further our greedy demands. Recognising our kinship with those creatures whose homes we’ve been decimating, may have made us think twice before doing so.






Not OUR President!

This morning we learn the moron in charge of America, and as a consequence leading the rest of us to disaster, has admitted he takes an unauthorised and dangerous drug, presumably with the sole intent of proving he was right all along, and the rest of the scientific community was wrong.

It says even more about this narcissistic would-be dictator that not only is he  trying to out-muscle China in typical bully-boy fashion, but he’s deliberately threatening the World Health Organization to do so. Today, he stated he may well take America out of the WHO altogether, if it doesn’t fall into line with his demands (though what those demands are is still uncertain, and it’s highly likely Trump has no more idea of the details than anyone else). This, in a time of deadly pandemic.

While the rest of the world may breathe an enormous sigh of relief if he’s removed from office come November, it’s not at all certain he will be, given that many Americans (like the gentleman above) still think he’s the answer to all their problems.

Take a moment to consider the true implications of a statement made to CNN this morning by the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi:

“He’s our president, and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and his, shall we say, weight group … morbidly obese, they say,” she said.

“He’s our President…” Quite obviously that’s all that matters to Pelosi. Never mind the damage he’s doing to his country and to the rest of the world. As her President it doesn’t matter that his arrogance and intransigence has led to thousands of unnecessary deaths, not just in America during the pandemic, where his refusal to acknowledge the danger of the virus, (“Oh, it’s just flu…”) for weeks after most other countries had gone into lockdown, but by his severe cut backs on foreign aid to poor countries, his wrecking of the Iran Nuclear Agreement, his total commitment to ‘America First’ and to hell with everyone else on this planet, his annihilation of US environmental regulations and, of course, his disdain for and refusal to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015.

But all that doesn’t matter to Pelosi, and millions of Americans: “He’s OUR President.” He’s the President of the Great United States of America, the finest nation on earth. The one that every other country looks up to and respects, and reveres, and longs to emulate.

Well, not any more. Polls of European citizens show a severe drop in support for the United States. Experts agree the days when America led the world are over. It’s not just what Trump has done and continues to do. It’s that he was allowed to do it. He was voted into office democratically by the citizenry, an act  that displayed a total lack of moral responsibility. It’s not just Donald Trump any more. It’s a betrayal of trust, to the world, by the people of America themselves.

The damage has already been done. Even if Trump loses the election in November and Joe Biden becomes the next president, it won’t really matter one iota. World leaders may give false smiles and try to patch things up with Biden, but the people of the rest of the world will not forgive the way Americans ditched their allies, stitched them up, and were happy to throw them to the wolves in their bid to ‘Make America Great Again’ and put ‘America First’.

He may be YOUR President, Speaker Pelosi, but he certainly is not ours.