A plane crashes in Singapore. An earthquake happens in Haiti. A tour bus crashes in Italy. A train derails in Spain. A bomb goes off in London. Another goes off in Bali. Planes fly into buildings in New York.
A person is shot; somewhere.
Major accidents, natural disasters and terrorist attacks happen every other month somewhere around the world. The minor occurrences make it into their local news, maybe even at the state, county or regional level. Some might be of national significance in their own country. And depending on many factors, the event, no matter how big or small might become big news internationally,
Dear America, There’s Something You Should Know About Us…
Australia has an inferiority complex. Sometimes, as a nation we lack self-esteem. Often times, we just need to feel loved. No, it’s not even that. Every so often we just want to be noticed. Still, from time to time, we need to get your approval like we are the middle child looking for a parent’s love. So what does this have to do with my opening passages about tragic events?
When breaking news of planes crashing is broadcast our news readers will inevitably add “no word on how many Australians were on board.” When news of earthquakes comes down the line we get told a similar thing “authorities have not confirmed if any Australians have been killed or injured.” When a terrorist attack happens anywhere in the world, especially in popular tourist destinations, that all too familiar phrase will spill out of the news reader’s mouth.
“There are reports that some Australians are amongst the dead and injured…”
Of course, if a friend or family member is living or working overseas or simply visiting that area as a tourist then it is understandably obvious that if you are listening to the news and have heard of this disastrous event you want to know if any Australians are amongst the known causalities. And it is great that the media report this. And it is even better when the whole scene has been inspected and all injuries and deaths have been accounted for and we hear this news;
“The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that no Australians have been killed or injured.”
And whilst I know in my heart of hearts that as decent humans we are pleased to get that good news, I am sure that in the back of the mind of the news producers they are slightly disappointed with that news. For when there are no Australians to report of on the world stage, and especially during times of trouble, the ratings go down, and people switch over to something else. Maybe the death of a character on a dramatic television show.
We Also Like to Do Well on That World Stage
Stars of television shows in Australia might be household names here, but I would suggest that most of them dream of something more. Hollywood. Winning an ARIA Award and having a top selling single or album in the country would never be thought of as worthless, but again I would suggest most Australian artists or bands dream of having a Billboard hit, and maybe even winning a coveted Grammy.
And whilst we have some sporting competitions that are the best of the best in their class (such as Rugby League’s NRL and Australian Rules’ AFL competitions) that a child in New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, the United Kingdom or Ireland might dream of playing in, our young soccer (or association football), baseball, basketball, and ice hockey players all dream of playing in the EPL, MLB, NBA and NHL respectively.
And although Australian Rules Football is a solely domestic game famous for being a game for kickers, when one of its players decided to try our for an American NFL team and then went on the be the best punter in the NFL during the whole decade of the 1990s, many Australian sports fans thought it was only natural that an Aussie would do so well in that sport. Really, if we put a team of our best League and Union players together and taught someone to throw a legal forward pass (you know, Quarterback style), that team would be unstoppable. Of course the game would have to be played sans padding and helmets. We don’t need that kind of protection…
But that’s not what this blog is about because, like an episode of The Simpsons, or some of my blogs before this, a surprise twist is forthcoming.
Two Words: Christopher Lane
Christopher Lane could have been our next big thing. Christopher Lane could have been our next Nicole Kidman. Christopher Lane could have been our next Darren Bennett. Christopher Lane could have been our next Hugh Jackman. Christopher Lane could have been our next Paul Hogan. Christopher Lane could have been our next Geoffrey Rush. Christopher Lane could have been our next Marcos Ambrose. Christopher Lane could have been the next Australian to make it big in another country, not just on the world stage being a world champion in a particular sport, Christopher Lane could have been our next big thing to be the best at something the Americans are famous for being good at.
Playing Under Local Rules
In the Dad Blogger group I belong to they have been discussing the designated hitter (DH) rule. Some like it, some don’t. In some sports rules are regional. Rules can be different in the same country just depending on the state you are in, the professional level you play at, or whatever is agreed on in the localised competition. Christopher Lane would have to have adapted to whatever rules he had to play under in the competition he was joining even if it was far from the rules he played under back in Melbourne. But I am sure he would have welcomed any changes and just got on with what he was good at in this sport.
But one rule that he didn’t see coming, a rule that he really didn’t even give a second thought to when he moved to America. Well it’s more of a law than a rule. America’s gun laws. Since the Port Arthur Massacre back in 1996, our gun laws have been very strict. Sure we still have criminals with legal and illegal guns, and sure they go around killing one another every other week (we are really going through a rough patch in Sydney at the moment), but there isn’t a gun for every person available and we don’t have a gun culture.
We don’t have them at the reach of bored teenagers. We don’t have them at the reach of pissed off teenagers. We don’t have them lying around the house for young children to find and kill themselves by accident, or kill their siblings or friends. We just don’t have it.
America, we trusted you to look after Christopher Lane. Not only would he have brought pride to this nation, he would have gone on to make the fans of whichever team he ended up playing for in the MLB proud. He would have been great. That is what Australian who make it on the world stage do. They. Become. Stars.
But you didn’t look after him. You didn’t take care of one of your foster child, for lack of a better term. He was yours to look after. He was yours to be loved. But he was still one of ours.
When we wake up in the morning and turn on our televisions to breakfast news shows, or listen to our favourite radio stations we are often “greeted” with the news that another mass shooting has happened in The States. When it happens to a bunch of American students, co-workers or family members, we shake our collective heads and then get on with our day.
Christopher Lane is only one man but right now there are tears rather than just the shaking of our heads.
America, we still love you, I just don’t now if we like you right now.