Rude Awakening

I had a rude awakening today.

A jet, which flew too close to my apartment for comfort, streaked past in furious velocity. I felt the vibration against every wall of security in my room. First time in this city, I hear noises and sounds frighteningly unfamiliar to me. Gone are the accustomed sounds of the trams, the neighbours yapping dog and the wheels of beer bottle filled bins hitting the creaks of the gravel in the neighbouring lane-ways. At this time of the day, all the usual pandemonium of this city is overshadowed with a sudden prick of fear. I am not used to this shot of fear up my spine. I am not cognizant with this loud hovering sound of war craft. I only hear it on the news from time to time and flick through it as quickly and mindlessly like a switch of ignorance. Why feel hopeless about it? What’s the good of knowing of such pain and injustice when you can watch The Simpsons marathon on Fox8?

This is one of the symptoms of immunity to the media on the war in Iraq. At first it was shocking, now its become a norm and something we expect to see. Like when they show a new panda at the local Zoo and one questions: where are the more important issues like the war in iraq? Like we expect to see the bloodshed. That’s news. We expect that it is still going on – that there isn’t and never will be any closure. Isn’t that disturbing and incredibly sad? That we are now so accustomed to it all – so much so that the rest of the world has long since put away their anti-war pins and badges to watch Borat and Superbad to wash away the ugliness of the world by watching something even more mindless.

Today, I get a slight glimpse of what it would be like to live with flying machines. Constant vibrations and the reminder of danger. Here I’m thinking, this might just end up in some low budget tv show of disasters in 2008. And here I am sitting on my balcony with a cigarette, waiting for it to crash into Federation Square or Flinders Station. Here I’m thinking, finally its happening. The terrorists have come to punish Australia for invading Iraq. But no, here in this beautiful city, these flying machines hover above us in the name of celebration and independence. Five jets and one Black Hawk later, I realised that today is Australia Day. Slightly more assured and comforted but still rattled by the sudden emergence of these apparatus’ of war, I wonder to myself how this fear must be tremendous in an actual war torn country. To say this is fear is a slap on the face of the Gaza. My fear is foreign to them. My ‘fear’ is nothing.

How fortunate for us to live in a developed country where security is a luxury and as dwellers of this spoilt habitat, we witness these frightening aircrafts as the mechanism of celebration and not destruction. We don’t need to worry about losing a leg on the way for milk and bread. We don’t have to think twice before we leave home. Here in the Western world we worry about drunk drivers, the occasional robbers, teenage shoplifters, rape and so on. In war torn countries, drunk drivers become military tanks and suicide bombers in buses, women are raped and killed on a regular basis by perpetrators who get away with their crimes thanks to a lack of order and the increase of chaos. When survival is at stake, one is capable to commit most horrendous crimes to stay alive. Not only does one fear the invaders but also their neighbour. Mistakes happen and innocent people die EVERY SINGLE DAY.

What are YOU whinging about? I take it if you’re reading this then you’re fortunate enough to have your health, cos you’re alive. That you’re fortunate enough to have a computer with access to internet. Which means you can afford to pay your bills. Which probably means you have a roof over your head and food on the table. Which would mean you’re probably taking it all for granted.

Today is Australia Day but in another distant land, its another day of fear for a child, a mother, a father. Another bomb on a village. Another day on your calendar. Before you whine about the traffic or the bland popcorn and the miserable weather. Take the time to be thankful for your health, your fully stocked cupboard and freezer, the fact that you have not one but a shelf full of shoes for your feet, money for food and bills, access to clean water whenever you need it – be thankful. Everyday. Remind yourself that you live your life the manner in which you define yourself. Being thankful means being humbled.

Next time you see casualties of war on your six o’clock news, think to yourself “It could have been me”. I’m not saying feed off other people’s misery. I’m saying count your blessings. I’m saying, stop complaining about all the pettiness in your life and just live it knowing that you’ve been given an incredible head start and advantage. Be thankful and if you must, feed off it to motivate you to live in contentment.

Some people have it all but then, many have nothing.

Happy Australia Day.


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