Mind Matters: Spectacles

I imagine that you have seen spectacles, at least on television. The opening ceremony for the Olympic Games. A major rock concert.

Recently I participated in a spectacle for the first time. It happened one morning in my home town, Armidale.

I went to a protest in central park. The protest was an effort to pressure government to take actions to reduce the effects of human-caused global climate change. I did not estimate our odds of success as high.

There were speakers and people waving signs. One speaker told how she had recently had her whole community burned to the ground by a bushfire.

Another speaker talked about the value Indigenous Australians put on the land.

Then about 500 of us started marching toward the office of the local member of parliament. There were young people and old in our eco-army.

Leading us were 10 "red-demon" women dressed from head to toe in silky red garments.

They wore long red gloves and had their faces painted white. They moved slowly while holding their arms to the side, like ghosts.

Close behind the women in red were two men carrying a big gong on their shoulders.

One of the men banged the gong every several seconds. Boinnnggg!

Toward the end of the march we started chanting an eco-slogan.

It went something like this: What do we want? Climate-change action! When do we want it? Now!

I added to the spectacle by wearing a high-quality air-filter mask.

I was the only person wearing one. The mask made me look a bit like a human pig.

I suppose that most of the protesters thought I was a cancer patient avoiding germs. Nope.

I was a health fanatic trying to avoid tiny particles of bushfire smoke that hung over the town and made the air unhealthful.

Those particles can go deep into a person's lungs and cause major mischief.

We crossed streets en masse. Cars stopped. People gawked. I am not sure Armidale has seen such a procession before.

In the fervour of the moment I wanted to chain myself to a tree or something, but I had to leave to go to a work meeting.

Also, I did not have a chain with me. Or a lock.

If you get a chance to join a spectacle, go for it. Make your own unique contribution. Check the air quality online before you go.

John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology, University of New England.