An old saying goes: “If you don’t watch the news, you are uninformed. If you watch the news, you are misinformed.” I’ll take uninformed any day, and form my own opinion.
There was a butterfly swarm in Brisbane yesterday. The city was filled with the delicate little insects drifting westwards on a warm breeze. I saw then first in Bulimba, later in Taringa; a city-wide phenomena.
I was interested to see the evening news, thinking that I’d learn the name of the species, the reasons for the swarm, how it connected with the natural cycles and whether this phenomena was linked to the warming atmosphere? I was to be disappointed.
The news reader announced the story three times in between adverts for petrol powered motor vehicles. Then they ran a story about a cyclone that hit the city in 1973. Then some sport and then the butterfly story. They presented little more information than they had in announcing the story. There was a swarm of butterflies in the city today. No species name. No explanation. Nothing. Then the weather report.
One you see this, you will not be able to unsee it. It is everywhere. The dominant culture wants you to be ignorant, disconnected.
The news used to be a social service but subsequently has become a profit center for broadcasters. If it were a social service still, the honest news reader would have said that the 1973 cyclone was a freak event, and that many more are on the horizon because we have warmed the atmosphere (and continue to do so). They would have said that many species – including maybe the butterflies that swarmed – faced extinction because of climate change. They might have said that the reproductive cycles of many species – maybe even the butterflies that swarmed – have been affected by the warming atmosphere. They might have even suggested how concerned citizens might act to make it right.
But they didn’t. They obfuscated the truth by mixing the weather, with a past weather event, and threw the butterflies among the cars and the rugby players.
The dominant paradigm – dominant culture – is forcing us to consumer-driven small-talk. We need to break free – first in our blindness to this phenomena. Then in our beliefs, then in our culture. We need to engage in sustainability driven big-talk.
And we need to do this soon, before there are no butterflies left to swarm.