Saturday, 15 December 2012

Day 10: A day overshadowed...

Day 10: When a day begins with news of another gun massacre in the United States, you just know it's going to be a day overshadowed. This one involved the shooting of some twenty children and seven or eight adults...the figures not yet final at time of writing. Australia has strict gun laws. For many of us here, the relaxed laws in the United States remain a challenge to understand. Much of today's conversation reflected on the despair of the families of those murdered in such a callous and inexplicable way; the possible Christmas presents never to be unwrapped, the parents who shall never hug their children, the speculation (as always happens) about the motives of the gunman.

Listening to the radio, and reading
as news of the day unfolded. 6.12am
Such was the moment at 6.12 this morning. I found myself listening to reports on the radio as the news unfolded; the speech made by the United States President Obama, the anguish heard in his voice. It is times like these that I appreciate the immediacy of radio and admire the way in which the presenters capture the developments. Saturday morning is usually ABC NewsRadio for me until a switch over to Radio National. Mike Gardiner, the presenter, covered the events with a real sense of immediacy.

I also tend to read a little before I get up, when I have the luxury of time to do so. Some twenty or so years ago, a senior colleague in the Department where I then worked, just mentioned in passing that he always set aside extra time in the morning to read, rather than late at night. It's something I tried back then and yes, when time permits, it is far more efficacious than those last few moments before sleep.

A job done 6.12pm
Japan is not too far away now. Today was a day filled with busy-ness including visiting my mother who lives on the Gold Coast. That trip was delayed by yet another multi-vehicle pile-up in the motorway, this time apparently, al occupants were OK (though the cars certainly didn't look like that). The weekend also means doing a few of those chores that must be done. The lawn mowing is in fact one of my favourites, and so it was at 6.12pm I found myself skirting the trees and trimming the grass. There's always a sense of 'completion' with the lawn, something which contrasts with my day job, where somedays 1000 words might flow quite freely and others I might have spent hours just crafting the perfect paragraph.

But the day began and ends with thoughts of that gun massacre. Tighter gun controls seem to have worked in other jurisdictions; they seem politically impossible in the United States. And as I mowed, I wondered about the juxtaposition of state laws which can ban such weapons and yet utilise them in wars against other nation-states. It is the sort of puzzle which is central to my work as an international politics and security specialist. It is what troubled me for most of the day and certainly at 6.12am and 6.12pm; moments in life we can take for granted.

Tomorrow, Japan goes to the polls; tomorrow will be just another work day for me. For families in Newtown in Connecticut, US...well, I just can't begin to imagine.

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