'I thought the end of the world would have had more loud noises' decried a panellist on Radio New Zealand's Panel, berating the senselessness of the topic at hand. I can't remember whether he was bemoaning the success of Kim Kardashian's book of selfies or the attention given to the new formula for a drinking chocolate.
Meanwhile, Jesus said 'repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near'. Really? Is heaven at hand? These days it doesn't really feel like it. The never-ending conflict and instability in the Middle East, the continuing saga in Greece with the Eurozone, the urgency of the Rohingya boat people as well as the twomillion Syrian refugees who have fled into surrounding countries.
The world seems a mess.
Sometimes heaven doesn't seem very near at all, it feels very far away.
Just recently New Zealand lost a key current affairs program from prime time television. Campbell Live was a bit like having an older sibling at high school—someone fighting for the little guy.
The program featured investigative pieces on social inequality, obvious injustices, international imbalances; attempts at keeping local government accountable, as well as feel good stories.
People were genuinely sad about this show's demise, taking to social networks to vent their disappointment, but the television network's ratings prerogative prevailed and so Campbell Live was replaced by a show that is 'more popular'.
The television network, and indeed all businesses, say they will show us what we want. If a show has low ratings then it is subject to review, while shows with high ratings will continue to be funded and promoted.
We, the people, have the power.
With so many tumultuous situations both locally and internationally, we are ever more in need of people who will bring these cases to light, highlight campaigns that do right, and allow those who hold the power to let our voices be heard.
We all need to continue to fight for a better world, and not let that fight be drowned out by sex tapes and cat videos.
We have the ability to influence the world we want to live in.
To take a quote from the compulsory-viewing movie Network:
'I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad ... and all we say is, "...just leave us alone". Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone ... I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, "I'm a HUMAN BEING! ... My life has VALUE! ... I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Things have got to change'.
I was talking to a friend who was lamenting the use of social media. Not for the usual bereavement of selfish egotism or negative hate speech, but for the incredible amount of potential that it has and is not being realised.
'Imagine if people during ancient revolutions discovered that the technology existed to unite people across all lands and communicate information in seconds. And then they discovered that we use it to share photos of penguins with moustaches'.
The thing is: we no longer need any more tools. With the advancement of computers, smartphones and the Internet we have the hope of a better world right at our fingertips.
Every. Single. Day.
People who perform actions or model unacceptable behaviour should know this is no longer tolerable. People who are oppressed or victims of circumstance need to know others support them and are fighting for their voices to be heard.
We should lobby those with power, including governments and sponsors, to make wise decisions to care for oppressed and marginalised people. We should lament the world we've helped create while campaigning to bring heaven a little bit nearer.
The most important question is, will we?
Matt Browning is a storyteller and lover of ideas. He is currently setting up a social enterprise for youth unemployment in Rotorua, New Zealand – taking youth who are dropping out of high school or coming out of youth prison, and hiring them full time so that they can get the experience needed to be hired in the future.
Matt Browning's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/matt-browning.html