Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Apocalypse Later.

There seems no end to the sensationalist media attention surrounding the super moon. Earthquakes, tsunamis, the predictions literally do not stop short of apocalyptic. Recent events certainly provide woeful reading and perhaps it would be vigilant to heed more attention to the 'Moon man' and others like him.

But there is not only a dark side to this moon. It even has, dare I say it, a silver lining. 

Christchurch was without a doubt, an incredible tragedy (the earthquake, not Christchurch itself). Japan even more so. On the morning of the February 22 I had caught a $30, 4am taxi to the airport, only to grudgingly and belatedly discover that my flight had been delayed by ten hours. I then proceeded to trudge all the way home in the rain, suitcase in hand, newly phoneless, wallowing in abysmal self-pity. 

But I had a home to return to, clean drinking water and an opportunity to catch up on some extra sleep, something that I, from 12.51pm that day onwards, felt exceedingly grateful for. 

On return the airport was not how I left it. A spattering of disgruntled inconvenienced travelers had been replaced by an anxious mass of people clustered around a single television broadcasting constant breaking news. Teary-eyed mothers juggled concerned cell phone calls and distressed children, as they sat, amongst other anxious families and suitcases strewn across the cafe floor. Scenes of unfathomable devastation were met by disconcerting hush and little scrolling words like "death toll" rolled ominously across the bottom of the screen. The immediacy and direness of the situation made it one of those rare moments that seem to diminish any plethora of everyday problems into the most brutal of perspectives. Bemoaning a delayed flight now seemed embarrassingly juvenile.

I have never been to Christchurch. I don't know anyone that lost their lives, or was physically injured in the quake. And for that I am incredibly thankful and grateful. But that day, like it must for so many New Zealanders, remains etched immortally in my memory. Like September 11, or they day the Berlin Wall came down, I imagine that Kiwis will always remember where they were when they heard the news, and what they were doing on that day that changed the nation's history forever. The country stood still that day- there was no room for criticism, cynicism, or even, for once, sensationalist politics. Simply a sense of horror and, more positively, overwhelming compassion.

Never before have I seen New Zealanders so unified in rallying behind a cause. From fashion shows to cupcake baking it seems everyone has done something and everything to contribute to the monumental Christchurch relief effort. Never before has our No.8 wire mentality been so aptly exhibited as in the myriad of creative fundraisers. It's something as Kiwis we should be incredibly proud of. And we haven't given up. The Christchurch earthquake hasn't become one of those tragic events in the recent past that simply fades into obscurity once everyone's initial do-good flame is extinguished. 

Not to mention the inspiring international presence in Christchurch, and more recently, Kiwi assistance in Japan. The world has shown they appreciate us. The fuckin' Foo Fighters played a concert. Every single person has become an everyday hero, adopting an utterly selfless and unquestioning willingness to contribute in anyway we can. 

Last week in class we were asked to discuss our own conception of New Zealand identity. Perhaps its something that has been hard to put a finger on previously. We've defined ourselves according to All Blacks victories, our nuclear-free stance, or simply as different to our cross-Tasman neighbours. Before now it was ANZAC that remained the Talisman event in Kiwi nation-hood. But in the twenty nine days, ten hours and thirty five minutes since the Christchurch quake we have seen ourselves at our best, in one of our darkest hours. It's tragic that it has taken a natural disaster to unify our people so definitively. But we cannot change what has happened. We can only continue to show and treasure our unity, ingenuity and genuine compassion. Now we've seen the dark side of the moon, why not make it a marvelous time for a moondance? The apocalypse can wait.

For someone who writes it much better than I do-

This Friday, don't miss it-

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