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ON TOUR WITH THE KID | Are you OK with the way it is?

One of my earliest memories is making signs with my mum that we took to a “No Nukes” rally. I still have a badge somewhere from that day that says “I trusted my government and now I glow in the dark”. It was the 70’s, what can say.

Though she was a bit of a hippy, my mum was also a very practical woman. She knew that singing Joan Baez songs wasn’t going to change the world, so she did all she could to change her corner of it.

Prime example. The phrase "ideologically unsound" was one often used in our house. For years it was frowned on to buy a certain chocolate bar. They ran an ad in which three teenagers took a bite of this delicious treat and their bodies lit up and showed them doing some exciting activity. The two guys in the ad were playing sports, and the girl was dancing on her own at a disco looking like a bit of a nob. To the thinking of my mother, if they were stupid enough to run such a sexist ad, they weren’t getting our money. As a 13-year-old, I cringed every time she mentioned it, but as an adult, I am thrilled for an early lesson in consumer responsibility.

Here we are in 2018, and I have to tell you, more often than not I wake up and think why the hell did I make the mistake of watching the news. Usually, by noon of any given day, there is some story that made me simultaneously heartbroken and livid. I dream of the days when my biggest concern was that the snack food I was craving might have been a bit sexist.

Priests who have decided they don’t have to report crimes, abusing children in their care. Parents killing their own flesh and blood, women being murdered in their own homes and others for making the unforgivable mistake of thinking it was safe to walk outside. Sometimes it’s all I can do to get through the day without crying.

On one of those days, when Newcastle was breathing a collective sigh of relief thanks to the amazing work of our local police command, I had a moment. One that I hope will stay with me for a long time. I was at a show at Lizotte’s, and Lyn Bowtell announced she would be singing a new track. The reoccurring question in the song was “Are you OK with the way it is?” In that moment I realised why the songs from the 70’s endured the way they did. Not because the songs changed the world but because they made people think and take action.

It’s not enough to say “the news is depressing, I can’t watch it any more.” Closing your eyes doesn’t make things go away. I was reminded of a line in, Do they know it’s Christmas, the charity song put together to fight famine in Ethiopia in the early 80’s. Bob Geldof had given the line to Bono, and he didn’t want to sing it. “Tonight, thank god it’s them instead of you.” Bono reportedly asked, “who the hell would say that.” That was the point. We all say that when we look the other way and do nothing.

It feels overwhelming, but there is always something we can do (other than rant about it on social media) to create change.

If you're worried about school safety, check that all the kids in your child’s class have a safe way to and from school and if they don’t, try and work out a system so that they do. Go through your kid’s old clothes and donate them to a women’s shelter. If you're worried about the farmers, check out which brands give them the best deal and where you can buy directly from them.

Ranting on Facebook without action is the equivalent of you muttering to yourself on a street corner. It’s not particularly effective. I guess the question remains, are you ok with the way it is?

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