So on an ordinary Saturday morning I find myself chatting to Tony Goodson over Skype. He’s on the other side of the planet in Melbourne. The call is free. We compare notes on youtube, of which Tony has become a huge fan. We spend a few minutes on what exactly it as about Two Chinese Boys‘ videos (like this) that is so brilliant.
We agree it’s some improv thing… there something so joyful about watching other human beings just having fun. Something about this video makes me feel… just more optimistic about the possibilities for our planet.
A few minutes later, I find myself reading Canadian Dave Pollard’s shocking description of two other boys of non-western origiin. These boys are in Africa, aged 10 and 12 scraping a desperate living trying to extract tiny amounts of copper from rock.
The mine is owned, through a convoluted series of numbered companies, by a huge Western mining conglomerate traded on the NYSE, whose executives earn salaries and bonuses in the millions of dollars per year. The copper the boys’ slave labour produces may well end up in the jewelery you are wearing, or in the computer equipment that allows you to read this.
So over a cup of tea I’m connected by the net, with voice, pictures and words to utterly contrasting experiences of the world from five continents. One leaves me feeling helpless with laughter. Another leaves me feeling… just helpless.
What does this extraordinary mixture of comedy and tragedy mean to me? Whatever I write will be trite, but here goes. As fellow residents of this planet let’s hope we get better at celebrating the best, and healing the worst, of what we’ve managed to organise for ourselves so far in the great experiment of life.