A Very Shakey, Very Merry Xmas Essay
By C. Arthur Monteath-Carr
I am writing this post to try and summarise some of the thoughts I've been having about the Canterbury Quakes today while I've been in the middle of my personal life, my political thought process, and thinking about the jobs of Government and the Media. Right in the middle of my everyday life which - much like yours, dear reader - is kind of busy and stressful. Not more or less busy than your life, just a different kind of busy than your life.
We all prepare for the Holiday Season in our own way. Some of us shop for presents for our Friends and Family; some of us send tweets to our peeps full of good tidings of great joy. Some of us clean our whole houses in preparation for an Xmas Eve Dinner with people we love, in preparation for opening presents with people we love on Xmas Day. These are all Good Things that we all do, in our own ways, every year.
Whatever your own personal tradition is, it's important.
It's valid, for you, and those you care about have their own traditions around this time of year that are valid for them. It's important that we can recognise that every family has their own Christmas, or Xmas, or christmas, (or Kwanza, Hanukkah, or Ramadan, and all the many, many year-end rituals that all cultures have) and it's important for society to be a place where everyone can have their own traditions, and have the right to have their own traditions.
|Keep this in mind. I'm going somewhere with this.|
But it takes a while to get there. Sorry. ;)
On 23-12-2011, on the single busiest retailing/shopping day of the year bar none (unless your store does a big Boxing Day sale; not all stores do, but some do), Mother Earth gave us a Christmas present of three big earthquakes. Just to remind everyone that she's still here, still doing her thing.
Here is my personal reaction, in the usual C. A. Monteath-Carr rambling post-post-modern essay that I like to write. It's part of my process; I hope you find it useful. It's sort of a tragi-comic-serious-post-with jokes, and it worked for me; I really hope it works for you.
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
On 23-12-2011, Christchurch - and Canterbury, and to a different extent, New Zealand - got rocked by three big earthquakes; a 5.8, followed by a 5.3, and a 6.0 magnitude quake, bam-bam-bam, right after one another.
I'm writing this post at a mellowed out 1:01 a.m after a really, really long day for myself and my family; I won't bore you with the details, but we were having a pretty stressful day with Real Life stuff when the shakes hit town.
TV One and TV Three news had their camera crews out in short order; the local news offices have had a lot of practice by this point in getting the crews out to do the very very important job of talking to real people going through real problems, asking them to share their personal experiences with the country, who - in turn - can sit in their homes and come to grips with the awful thing that just happened to their family, their friends, and their friends-of-friends in Canterbury.
Personal aside: This page was the one I was following for "breaking news" on the Very Shakey Xmas Eve (Eve), or 23/12/11. It morphed from being a blunt "this just in" bulletin service, to a scare story about All Malls being Evacuated, and finally into a summary of the situation as it was when the reporter stopped updating the page and moved on to the next story. Despite the headline and URL - possibly chosen by a sub-editor - I found it very helpful as I tried to come to grips with what had happened, and I want to thank the people involved in this story for helping me do that. Back to the post. ^_^
The media and the local council have been playing a very, very very important job in Canterbury recently. It has been the Council's job to act as a sort of intermediary between the emergency National Level entity that is CERA and the everyday people. It has been the Media's (very important) job of explaining CERA, the EQC, the local council, local builders and local architects who want to help, and the everyday people, to the rest of the country, in language they can relate to.
Because make no mistake; CERA is really fucking scary.
Imagine, if you will, the proverbial 500lb gorilla that can sit where it likes.
The gorilla - hell, 500lb's isn't big enough to cover the power CERA has. Let's call it a 1000lb gorilla- this huge gorilla can sit where it likes, when it likes. If this gorilla wanted to climb the Grand Chancellor hotel, it could. With zero warning.
The CERA Gorilla could, in theory, if it felt like it, tear the Grand Chancellor down. It'd take a bit of work, but when this 1500lb CERA Gorilla wants to tear a building down, by golly, it'll do it. No building is beyond CERA's mighty demolition powers.
CERA - fuck it. CERA is King fucking Kong.
|CERA-Kong Eats Triceratops Like You for Breakfast. Bitch.|
CERA is like if New Zealand had a pet King Kong that did the bidding of whoever happened to be in charge of the Government at any given moment.
Sometimes, you need a pet King Kong. Sometimes, motherfucking Godzilla comes up out of your ocean, mad as heck about atomic testing in the Pacific, and wants to lash out at the world with his Godzilla Fire Breath™. That's when you need King Kong on your side to make sure that motherfucking Godzilla doesn't fuck your shit up, tear down yo' buildings, or step on your Toyota.
Fucking Godzilla. Look, there's even a movie about this; here's a Youtube clip:
and here's a Wikipedia page all about this movie that I haven't seen yet, but by golly do I want to. It seems pretty neat.
So, to continue with this extended, convoluted metaphor; CERA is Canterbury's - and New Zealand's - pet King Kong. So long as we have the right people in charge, and CERA-Kong obeys the right people, we have the tools needed to show that bloody Godzilla who's boss.
And that's great; I love that. I love that we live in a country that can have a pet King Kong to show Godzilla who's boss. I also understand that Godzilla's not mad at me per se, he just wants MFing people to stop testing some MFing bombs in the Pacific. Godzilla's got shit on his plate too. He just wants to live and let live, but some bastards (let's pretend that they're French) keep on dropping atom bombs in the Pacific and Godzilla would like it to stop.
(To break the metaphor down a little, Godzilla is Mother Earth, who is just adjusting her tectonic plates a little; she's really sorry that she has to do this, and it's a difficult time for all of us, but it's Momma Earth's House and you play by her rules for the equivalent of one week a month, OK? OK.)
(Or, if you like, the Earth is just doing it's thing, and everybody in Canterbury has got to live with the consequences as best they can. How we're living with it is, we've made CERA, which is this really big, really scary, yet really very necessary thing, this organisation that we have now, to clean up the mess).
So, our pet CERA-Kong, is even as we speak sweeping into action. It's paying street cleaners, civic engineers, hell, the guys who fix our water supply for us some serious, well deserved over-time to, well, fix the water supply for us. CERA-Kong is going to clear the streets, make sure that Civil Defence (who was here first, but is playing nicely with CERA-Kong, because - remember - 2000lb Gorilla and all that) can get to the worst hit areas and lend a hand.
The City Council is going into action too. Mayor Bob is doing what he does best, which is talking to the Everyday People and making sure that they know that CERA-Kong is on their side, fighting the good fight against Godzilla (which is, remember, an Earthquake). Behind him he has the entire apparatus of the Christchurch City Council on his side, doing their bit to help ensure that the people of Christchurch can find a place they can live through the damage safely, and so the people of Christchurch can still feel like it's safe to live in Christchurch, even as mother-fucking Godzilla is throwing it's weight around.
For everybody's sake- for yours, for your friends and family, and for their friends and family - I just really, really hope that everyone involved - CERA-Kong, the City Council, Mayor Bob, Civil Defence, hell, even the Chief Gorilla Handler, the Hon. Gerry Brownlee, keeps everything in perspective and realises that the struggle is not just against Godzilla, and that the real, true heroes of this struggle will not just be those who rose to the occasion, but those who were content to let their good works speak for themselves, and not try to hog the limelight once Godzilla retreats back to the ocean again.
Kia Kaha, Christchurch, and Canterbury. I know it ain't easy, doing your thing when fucking Godzilla comes to town. Especially - bloody oath especially - just before bloody Christmas.
Take some time though, as you Keep Calm and Carry On, to spare a thought for the real-life peeps who are working around the clock to give the good citizens of Christchurch (and Canterbury) the space to breathe and have a Very Merry, and Very Shakey Christmas.
Fuck knows we all need some good news right now. Here's a funny, Christmas-themed Cat Video.
Good Night and Good Luck.
If you feel like making your own pet CERA-Kong, here's a site I found with a lot of high-quality pics of Kong Kong that you could use; I'd really be tickled pink if you drop me a link at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can appreciate your work. Cheers!