A lovely lady who travelled with me last year emailed me this week to share her grief over losing her 19 year old daughter. How do you deal with that kind of loss, how do you talk about the tragedy of young hope replaced by suicide? I also found out that another colleague lost her best friend to cancer after a long battle and an emotional black hole. She died isolated from her loved ones and regretful of her marriage.
An inspiring journalist also published her deeply personal account of what it feels like to suffer a stroke. She was on a flight to Beirut one day and suddenly her world turned to chaos and confusion. I felt nausea passing in waves through by body as I read it.
I can tolerate confronting tragedy in small doses only.
Even more damaging this week has been the main stream media of Australia. As terrible and overwhelming as the other stories of personal trauma have been, having to watch the shoddy state of journalism in Australia is far more harmful to my state of mind. It's not just depressing, it's a source of anger.
Most of us who work in media related industries have an appreciation for the power of the Fourth Estate. Those who care about more than just themselves would love the opportunity to have a voice in the debates that confront our nation. We see immense responsibility to inform readers. We are humbled by such privilege.
Watching staffers in our daily papers abandon that honour is painful. Guys like Joe Hildebrand, Andrew Bolt and Paul Sheehan get paid good money to abuse a great privilege. News is traded for entertainment, facts are discarded for convenience, opinion replaces journalism.
Two things in this world get me mad. People who waste their power to do good. People who get in the way of others who are trying to do good.
Watching arrogant bullies like Peter Reith lecture decent people about the lives of refugees takes things to a whole new low. This man was caught deceiving the Australian people in order to win an election, and he got away with it. Now he gets the privilege of air time on the ABC to spout his aggression, pontificate about the motives of others and shout down more respectful panel members.
It's disgraceful and it's far from anything that qualifies as journalism. And the people of Australia are the ones who are footing the bill for this thug to enjoy "retirement" in the spotlight. He should be in jail, not on television.
The injustice of people abusing their power really hits my raw nerves. It happens in my career that some people like to simply rip off my editorial, steal my photos or copy my design work. Some people are shameless about it, just like Peter Reith and the other white men in suits who fill the pages of our media with misinformation about refugees heading to Australia.
The media makes me angry, tragedy makes me sad. I'm incredibly lucky myself to have good fortune in my life. Some of it has come at a price. It's taken 42 years to feel like I'm getting somewhere in the world.
Little acts of bastardry make me especially angry. Stealing my pencil is the definition of being a shit head. I saw a posting on Facebook today from an independent clothing maker who buys end of stock material to hand sew dresses. Someone walked into a store and stole one of her dresses, it was on consignment. I was angry. It takes a serious loser to steal from a hard working person who has worked their way from nothing into a position of self-employment.
(And if you're that guy who keeps copying my brochure designs and stealing my editorial for your website, you are an even bigger loser than whoever stole that dress.)
Angry is one thing, depressed is another. As the tragic events of suicide, cancer and strokes have reminded me lately; life is short and I've already seen out 42 years of it. I may have to stay away from the television entirely for fear the streams of tragedy and rage will cross.
There was one silver lining to the disgraceful display of Peter Reith on the ABC tonight. His performance drew a broad and damming collection of tweets. Some were rude, some were funny and most were direct and to the point. Nobody tweeted anything nice about the guy, not a single word. His comments were indefensible apparently.
All of which begs the question, why the fuck do you need to put a nasty piece of work like him on TV in the first place?
I bet he stole my pencil.