Having meaningful conversations about systemic racism and social immobility can connect people as much as the act of absorbing someone else’s microcosm of grief and relating to it. Ideally, I think, the conversations should encompass both the macro issues and the micro everyday scenes: acknowledging the social values that might hinder social change and communicating the process of witnessing everyday pain that reminds us of our shared humanity.
Religion is no "opiate of the masses." Rich and poor, educated and ignorant alike flock to the call of certainty in these uncertain times. Rather than action based on the fear of an angry deity’s surveillance and judgement, this is an escape from the unease within. Certainty is a kind of social power. It indicates authority. Certainty reinforces identity through the use of prescribed language. Certainty is a foundational part of action. Today’s pandemic religion is about something you can be sure of. It’s about a bid for authority seen as stolen by science, by government, by secularism, and by technology. In the same way that 'thoughts and prayers' are more of a dismissive platitude than an actual step towards healing, it’s “Amen” at a distance without much in the way of getting directly in the trenches to rescue the drowning.
While last year I was busy being quite the adventurous backpacker, this year my biggest achievement has been to walk beyond the well-worn path between my bedroom and kitchen. It might have been the intensity of the lockdown slowly rotting away my brain, but I couldn’t help but start to draw some parallels between my time locked up in my bedroom in Melbourne, and my practice of Vipassana in Thailand.
The Southern Man advert is aiming to speak to a specific audience of beer drinkers, assumed by Speight's to be men. Other beer companies have played with similar received notions of masculinity. Tui, another New Zealand beer company, have run adverts where rural ‘blokes’ who run out of gas for the BBQ decide to power it from the farts of a nearby cow. This is seen as a representation of the much lauded ‘Kiwi ingenuity’. Another example of the stoic, terse masculinity of what advertising companies imagine farmers to be is the advert Toyota ran in 1989 that sees a series of farm accidents with the farmer responding ‘bugger’ after each of these.