Tag Archives: hope

Medicine show

Toy hospital and ambulance on carpeted floor with balloon

Everyone, everywhere, Santa Fe to Timbuktu, is talking about the same thing.

Has there ever been a time like this? Instant information, distance from the environment, and a global threat to public health: a new set of conditions to steer all seven billion of us down the same path. I suppose you could argue that any conversation during either of the World Wars was ultimately about the war, but you could still go out and get drunk, and there was still a side to take. COVID-19 is in everything, and despite the efforts of some charlatans to spin it to their own ends, the virus brings with it undeniable truths — contagion, illness, and death, but also hand-washing, elbow-sneezing, and flattening the curve — to alarm and compel.

If it’s true that everyone reverts to a base state during a crisis, I appear to be a pessimist, or at least a cynic, drawn to the more troubling scenarios than the hopeful ones. It might instead be that a media diet of RNZ, The Guardian, and Twitter leads the average person to doubt humanity in general. I am trying to leave the tabs closed more often.

The hard part, though, is that I, a know-all hipster since I could talk, am forced to live through COVID-19 with everyone else. There’s no lesser-known virus you probably haven’t heard of. I am in this and this only, just like you. How irritating.

But — also — how hopeful, actually. When has every person in the world had to stare down the same disastrous consequences and act in unison to prevent them? And when have so many signed up so willingly?

There’s no medicine. People are the medicine, in so many ways. And it’s just as well I don’t have anything different to say, because it isn’t my job to make sense of it; to zoom out and paint the picture in a way others might understand. My job is to stay home.

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Filed under Biography

The audacity of hope: Tanna (2015)

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Photo by sydneydawg2006 (Flickr)

The Romeo and Juliet comparison is obligatory, so let’s get that out of the way.

But no, really, Tanna is a lot like Romeo and Juliet. Except it’s set in tribal lands in Vanuatu, where residents have rejected money, Christianity, democracy, and t-shirts, instead choosing a traditional life. And this story really happened, only a few decades ago.

And instead of going all in with the tragedy, it ends with hope — the hope that if you look at the consequences of certain customs, and see how tragic they can be, you can find another way. The hope of charismatic and thoughtful leadership, with speeches backed by action. The hope that minds can change.

It’s so easy to be cynical about such sentiments. You hear them so often from politicians and they so rarely amount to anything tangible. But that’s truly how Tanna made me feel! I would never want to live the way the Yakel do, but I think we can all learn something from them, or at least be reminded of how we are capable of learning.

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Filed under Film