“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Not sure about you, but lately media is making me feel sad, disappointed, angry, hurt, manipulated, ignored, confused and anxious. When I watch the news, I find “objective” reporting that often has a thinly veiled agenda funded by politicians or consumer brands.
These days it appears that many people are with me in feeling that both broadcast and social media, which are funded by either the government, corporations or both, don’t truly care about informing or empowering the average person. Nor should they. This is not their job. The job of the media is to help advertisers influence viewers to achieve an outcome that yields profits or some other gain, such as a positive public image of a political candidate. That’s how broadcast media survives in the free market system.
This is also true of social media, which isn’t as social or interactive as I once thought. The advertisements I see on Google and Facebook are showing me that their algorithms have determined that I’m an emerging writer hungry for training and mentoring. This is true. What’s the problem then, you may ask. I end up signing up for an awful lot of webinars, workshops and masterclasses. This wastes my time and money when as a writer I should be writing. Becoming aware of my time and money spending habits shows me that I’m easily manipulated and that comes as a slap in the face and makes me question who is in the driver seat when it comes to making decisions on how to live my one precious life. It hurts me every time I discover that I’d been a pawn in a game clever marketers like Seth Godin have crafted. Sometimes the whole world, like in the film The Matrix, appears to be the architecture of detached manipulators.
How to get out of the matrix then?
Presenting the Truth
“As a storyteller, I am privileged to sit with storytellers from many other cultures, and I find two things. The positive thing is I find that I can sit in circle with storytellers in Australia, and when they start telling the stories of their culture, I can identify for them the equivalence of that story in African culture, so there is something very primal that connects us there.”- Yeye Luisah Teish
Sitting together with other people and listening to their stories in real-time is a good way to feel one’s humanity. We step outside of being a cog in a carefully manufactured system and connect with other human beings. If you can find yourself in a group of people from diverse cultural backgrounds then this is even better as you will have to expand your thinking and may have to dig deeper to find the commonalities.
‘Veritas presents her mirror‘ is the painting in the photograph that hangs over my desk. The painting was created by Yvonne Le, an emerging artist who teaches at Gallery Lane Cove. Veritas, the black woman depicted in the painting watches over me as I type these words and share my truths with my readers. Within every word I type to express thoughts and feelings, every judgment I make, every trap I fall into, there is a mirror reflecting my own nature back to me.
“I knew straight away I wanted to base it off Jean-Léon Gérôme’s 1896 painting ‘Truth Coming Out of Her Well’. It’s one of those paintings that has always stuck around in my head – an angry young woman scolding mankind. ” – Yvonne Le
I am an angry, middle-aged suburban mum and this anger was something I denied for a very long time. I played the innocent victim for too long, duping myself that I belonged in circles where I was not truly seen or heard or appreciated.
Eventually the anger rose within me like Darth Vader wanting to bring order to things. I ended up hurting the feelings of someone I considered a “mate”. Where I decided to express the darkness within me was when I pointed a finger and called News Corp, which employs him, the “evil-ish empire”. At its core, I was angry that I cannot be accepted as a part of the mainstream media industry tribe. I have no journalism background but does that mean I have no grasp of my personal truths and what happens in my household, in my neighbours’ backyards and around me?
There’s a saying in indigenous circles that anything about us without us ain’t for us. I feel this is true for local news too. Non-locals should stay out of our news but how is this suburban mum’s anger have anything to do with Veritas, a black woman, holding a mirror to the society and showing us our own ugliness?
I could say that I’m a woman of colour, as a Turkish woman indoctrinated into the Muslim religion living in a society where whiteness and Christianity dominates the mainstream conversations. But even then, I get nowhere close to understanding the racism that the most vulnerable people in our society suffer. This is why truth comes out of the mouths of the oppressed, our egos, sins, unconscious, unfeeling ways are best seen from the mirror of those we push down and out.
Yvonne points out these are the truths of our humanity and of course we don’t want to hear them because we’re afraid of facing the Darth Vader within us all. I faced that scary mofo when I pointed my finger to Rupert Murdoch as the source of evil. He isn’t. The person I considered a mate who works for him isn’t evil either. If I was given their circumstances in life would I have turned out more sensitive to the pain of people whose words they won’t dignify with a conversation? I can’t say for sure…
Lane Cove Community Chaplaincy is run by my friend Karen and she and I have many deep conversations delving deep into the Christian faith. We talk about who owns the truth, what is the truth, what is our purpose on this planet, how to end this insanity where we are destroying nature and creating situations where we don’t value other humanbeings. She recently pointed me to Jewish wisdom in Ecclesiastes where the concept of hevel appears, which translates to smoke or vapour, a metaphor for life which is insubstantial and transient.
Three observations discussed in Ecclesiastes are, 1. time never stops, 2. the rule of life is chance and 3. we will all die. So why do we waste our time congratulating ourselves on achievements which are mainly a result of chance? I do it all the time. Social media was invented for this very reason, so that we all can feel like we’re seen heard and we matter. But nothing matters (hevel) and it’s only my ego fooling me that somehow I’m holier than Rupert and his cronies. All life is smoke and mirrors. I can choose not to read his papers because they don’t give me a certain feeling, inner peace, which I seek.
It may be that our inner peace is the only thing to strive for. I get this feeling when I enter into deep conversations with people like Karen and other local writers in my community.
Wildflowers by Belinda Ramirez which I got at my local independent bookstore, The Bookery, gives me hope and empowers me that when we are vigilent, aware and set forth with intention we help others heal. I highly recommend this book to anyone who feels too overwhelmed by the evil in the world. It shows that Belinda, a local mum, can bring us the voices and the good news of survivors of sex trafficking in the Philippines. We can support the efforts of those organisations that bring hope to these survivors, the wildflowers, giving them a safe space, education and job opportunities to blossom.
In the Cove started up by Jacky whom I see walking around with that huge gentle dog of hers gives me a window into the thoughts and concerns of those in my community. I often tap into Lane Chat by ITC FB group to get their opinions for articles I’m working on such as this one.
The Village Observer deserves a special mention for giving me a place where my writing can be seen by the people in my community. At the begining of the year, the editor, Nicola, an incredibly generous professional, published my piece about how Rumi’s spirit inspired me to ease up on my social media addiction. I’m so glad this monthly magazine is back.
Over to you…
Share some of your good news with someone you love today. What was a challenge you finally faced and overcame? It can be something as simple as managing to get into a tight parking spot or in my case every time I manage to sit down and finish an emotionally charged article like this one.
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