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OFF CENTRE: The strident drumbeat (2)


Sherwyn Walters

OFF CENTRE: The strident drumbeat (2)

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As I was saying last week . . .
During television coverage of both the National Primary Schools Athletic Championships and the Barbados Secondary Schools Athletic Championships recently, emphatic calls were made for drums to be allowed back for the latter.
We have become accustomed – too accustomed – to the forceful expression of opinion in situations where prudence or even a proper concern about role should suggest a different focus.
But we live in an age where a television channel calls itself Cable News Network (CNN) but pumps far, far more opinion than news our way. Ditto Fox News Channel.
So the expression of opinion, one of the undoubted treasures of humankind, apparently now knows few bounds – little sense of time and place. And, far more importantly, as I have said before, few strains of humanity.
The latter aspect is explored in two books I hinted at a few articles back: The Argument Culture by Deborah Tannen and From Debate To Dialogue by Deborah Flick.
Writes Flick: “There appears to be a growing unwillingness to grapple with complexity and ambiguity . . . . Our willingness to ‘see the other’ or ‘experience the other side’ is thwarted if not totally extinguished.”
Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson recalled a conversation between Jobs and Rupert Murdoch, founder, chairman and CEO of News Corporation (owner of Fox News), in which the Apple founder told Murdoch, “The old paradigm was Republican/Democrat; conservative/liberal. The new paradigm is constructive/destructive – and Fox [News] is destructive.” And we know FOX: “I right, you wrong. Hand me the bludgeon.”
Where is the constructive, empathetic engagement of persons who have silenced the drums?
And this human aspect has not been given a look-in either: is it right that others who have paid their money to see an event and expect some natural noise to then be subjected to augmented unnatural noise?
Have we given that any thought?
Or do we have so low a view of others that they must be sacrificed on the altar of our desire for our own sense of enjoyment – and the rest can go to hell? (Including those who then have to supervise the consequences?)
By the way, when I was a teacher I sometimes told my colleagues half-jokingly (well, it might have been seven-eighths – I can’t remember) that we should sue the Government for breach of contract concerning duties a teacher should perform (security guard, referee, nursemaid, janitor, social worker, taxi driver, chaperon, five o’clock caretaker, and so on).
Even today I wonder how the courts would rule on the matter if teachers contested their employer’s demanding (or expecting as a matter of course) that they go to the National Stadium and take care of children there at a sports meet. Not that I would suggest such a challenge.
(Look, I gave hundreds of hours of free lessons, but was never so reckless, self-righteous or arrogant as to argue that all teachers should do the same, so all I want is some sensitive regard for these people – and not the usual taking for granted and potshotting.)
So, if they say the drums causing them serious problems, you gine run roughshod over their concerns? Who you? More to the point, what kind of person are you?
I never get accustomed to people pillorying the very ones they must depend on to accomplish the very thing they desire – and over whom they have no coercive power. Not the smartest idea.
In addition, since when was it par for the course that spectators become the action? I think self-indulgence is running riot when the contest/the entertainment is only the platform for bring-your-own-entertainment.
And atmosphere? That is a god in these parts now? So we will put people and a quest for higher standards on the pyre in pursuit of atmosphere? No wonder, then, that some years ago one of the ads for a West Indies cricket home series had as its tag, “Win, lose or draw, we celebrating”.
Which self-respecting people could they foist that on? And who else in the world, as they continued their undignified and perturbing drop from the top of the cricket world to the bottom, would be arguing about whether they could have certain kinds of noise in the stands for the World Cup – as we did in 2007?
Where are our pride and our passion for better things? Things like discipline, excellence, and sensitive regard for others.
And I en even talk about the dangers of noise.
Why do we major on relative minors?
Like drums?

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