We have been bombarded with unprecedented events during these past few years. The bushfires in NSW and Victoria were the prologue to the opening act of COVID. Two years later, we thought we were safe to come out of our houses and tentatively go back to some sense of normality. But no, mother nature and floods have quashed that idea, leaving so many households reeling with the tragedy of losing everything they own.
These three disasters have been largely out of our control, caused by either pathogens or the direct impact of global warming on a planet that has built houses in the wrong places and burnt fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow. Granted, our hubris may have been a little at fault.
But images this week have made me despair about humanity. People start wars, nature doesn’t and neither do viruses.
Every day, civilians in the Ukraine are murdered. Innocent people trying to flee for their lives amid missile strikes, are slaughtered as if they are merely part of a computer game, an inanimate image on a screen to be flashed out of existence with a flick of the wrist or a computer mouse. But they are all too real, people like you and me who just want a peaceful existence and a chance to raise their families. Now they are reduced to a single name – a refugee – and forced to wait on the rest of the world’s pity and compassion.
We see this now in real time on our televisions and on the 24-hour news cycle, in what seems like a never-ending story of destruction and madness. Countries rail against the atrocities, diplomats hurry to talk, politicians posture and promise action. Yet, as usual, it is the little people, the powerless and the poor who suffer. I fear that even the 24-hour news cycle will tire of this scenario and the tragedy of these people will be forgotten or pushed to the back of our conscience.
Another death of a sporting hero or a royal will take its place to avert our eyes from brutality and allow us to sleep peacefully in our beds. This is how despots continue to rule and spread their misery among the helpless.
What will the epilogue be? If humanity was a Shakespearian play, then the ending is looking a bit dodgy. Shakespeare knew nothing of nuclear weapons, thermobaric bombs or chemical warfare, but he knew enough about human nature – greed, struggles for power, prejudices and even love – to make the epilogue look rather grim. Few of his plays had a happy ending.
Perhaps a better playwright can come along and change the script.
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