“Welcome to ____, Helen Mirren.”
Those were the words making their way across the radio to thousands of listeners across the city early one morning while they quietly made their way to work. Words meant to fill listeners with a sense of pride and curiosity around the visiting VIP. Words being shared even before the city’s arriving guest had even made it to her hotel.
Before she could even get out of the airport her photo was out, shared to many a friend and follower through Instagram and Facebook, caveated that she was sans makeup (no doubt as an overnight flight). With best of intent, the radio announcer as wishing to welcome the VIP guest to the city.
In doing so, and as welcoming as the radio announcer may have been wishing to be, in an instant the potential private get-away of a public face was ended. Anonymity was no longer. Privacy was past tense.
The social media age in which we live today is an incredibly exciting, engaging one. It allows people near and far to ‘connect’ in ways never experiences before – geographically, emotionally, ideologically, instantly.
Suddenly a mobile device becomes power in one’s hands.
And with this great power, as the credo goes, comes great responsibility. Thoughts suddenly need to be entertained, with oneself, centered around one question: “is it ok?”
Privacy vs exposure
Celebrity vs anonymity
Restriction vs entitlement
Which begs the question: does owning a camera mean it is acceptable to access another person’s personal space?
There is no external, single answer. This is an internal question that one needs to work through, for oneself. From both sides – as the onlooker, and as the subject. How would one feel if the tables were turned?
As social media embeds itself in the lives and lifestyles of the global community, with it will emerge mindfulness and manners. And with that will come a fascinating new global ‘code’.
Still, at the essence of ‘social’, be it within the media context or otherwise, is people coming together. When temptation sets in to capture a moment, any moment, as with all human engagement, the question to be taken to heart should ultimately be: ‘is it bringing us closer together, or pushing is apart?’
Whether subject or observer everyone is someone, of worth, of importance.
And deserving of respect of face, place and space.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2014
Every day for the past several weeks, the headlines have been beyond fiction. Wars flare up despite the 100th anniversary of WWI urging us to never forget the costs of war, aircraft fall from the sky victims of wrong place/wrong time at a time when even air air has lost its purity of place, and a deadly, invisible force now takes the lives of hundreds upon hundreds with just one tiny drop of its terrifyingly rapid viral reach.
How can it be these are the times we are living in?
How can it be this is the degree of uncivilised behaviour 21st Century civilisation is willing and able to show.
And how can it be that this is how we showcase how close the world has brought us together through technology, through aviation, through the basic desire to connect?
The reality is so raw. How remarkably far away from one another we seem to be in times when information, technical innovation and imagination are seemingly working so much harder to inspire and excite us to come closer.
And then more news breaks….a beloved artist’s life comes to an early end, his laughter, and his ability to create laughter, is eclipsed by the horror of his aloneness. And now the world cries.
How do we make such choices of when to come together, and when to look away? How do we hold our focus when sometimes what we see, and feel, is so overwhelming, ‘out there’ not only in physical geography but in the emotional. There is just so much to absorb…
And still more will happen, more choices will need to be made.
For all that we are able to see, all we are able to say, and the silence we are so often left with, may our silence be as embracing of those in need as our audible expressions of support.
And may all, everywhere, find rest in peace.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2014
The 2014 FIFA World Cup (FWC) is now past. The global grip of the Games is released!
In classic World Cup style, the world’s top tier competition of the beautiful game brought player and fan energy to a fever pitch, with seconds becoming the turning points between dream and devastation. For a period of one month, billions of people were united by one focus, one remarkable force, one spontaneous question: “did you see the game?”
As expected, host nation Brasil shocked the world. But not with its playing prowess. Sadly it was its painful defeat, painfully early and goal-divide embarrassingly defeat, defying pre-Games predictions of home soil advantage and triumph. Likewise other leading football nations, the first upset of the tournament being the reigning champions, Spain, being forced to leave the event early, far too early, with heads heavily bowed.
On the flipside, the unexpected awe to created by otherwise unwatched Croatia as they score the first goal of the 2014 Championships over host country team Brasil, and the fierce fight put up by team USA as they joined the field of the world’s finest, performing with remarkable determination worthy of standing ovation, even if not able to stand up to their ultimate rivals to get past the round of 16 and onto the top of the tournament. Countless goals, moments and memories unfolded over the duration of the tournament across the 32 nations of football heroes, to make 2014’s FWC one for the history books.
And with Germany proving to be the champions this time ’round, bringing the finals to an exhaustive yet exhilarating close, FIFA, Brasil, and the global football community can be congratulated for bringing the world together – sports fans and curious spectators standing by, sworn followers and otherwise strangers, all nations, all backgrounds, all electrified by the build-up and the bonding caused by the truly beautiful game.
Yet, sadly, as seems to be the case with megaevents around the world, off-the-field drama eclipsed, in so many ways and at so many stages, focus on the real stars of the events – the athletes.
In the build-up to the 2014 FWC, even into the early hours of the tournament, other issues shifted attention away from the players from the exceptional capabilities and determination of 32 national teams. Arriving into Brasil with deflated levels of applause, athletes need to wait until political, protestor and other pre-event storms have passed before the sun could shine on them. Once momentum of the matches could be felt, challenges on the field took over from challenges off, thought he latter were never far from the focus of FWC critics. The 2014 FWC was not the first time this has happened. In 2014 alone, it has happened in Russia with the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, and now in Brasil, with the FIFA World Cup.
What is happening to these once globally unifying forces of the human spirit? When did the beautiful game lose so much of its beauty?
When did our love for the athletes become the afterthought?
Issues need their focus, points need to be made by those feeling a need to have their voices heard.
But there needs to be a way to allow these two forces to coexist, so that the years of blood, sweat, tears, training and dreaming invested by the athletes, not to mention the efforts invested by those supporting them, can be honoured.
Are mega-events worth it? Can there ever be a calculation that yields an acceptable ROI?
With an estimated total of 3.4 million people attending matches at the stadiums and a further 5 million people at the Fan Fests:, the 2014 FWC’s twelve host cities are projected to have seen over 1 million international tourists and over 3 million domestic tourists over the duration of the tournaments. Such is the post-Games calculation made by Brasil’s Ministry of Tourism. The estimated impact of the 2014 FWC on Brasil’s economy? Recent study by the Economic Research Institute Foundation (FIPE) estimates that the sum of public and private investments in infrastructure was BRL$ 9.1 billion/US$ 4.1 billion. Direct spending by local tourists is estimated at BRL$ 346 million/US$ 146 million and foreign tourists BRL$ 102 million/US$ 46 million, and investments by the Local Organising Committee (LOC) on the 2014 Games BRL$ 311 million/US$ 140 million.
Some projections of earnings are even higher. As stated by VISA early on into the tournament,: “During the four-day opening period of the tournament (June 12 – June 15, 2014), Visa found that international visitors spent more than US$27M on their Visa accounts. This represents a 73 percent increase over the same four-day period in 2013. Visitors from the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, France, and Mexico represented the largest overall tourist spend in Brazil during the four-day period. On Saturday, June 14, 2014 alone international travelers to Brazil spent more than US$10.7M using Visa products. This was the highest tourist spend day in the country in 2014.”
Even richer than the gains in earnings are the gains in what sadly cannot be quantified, yet we know is invaluable – the return on inspiration.
Megaevents such as the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games have the ability to yank the global community out of the “I” and into the “we“. National flags transcend individual identity in a way that no religion, no politics, no other force can.
And in so doing, it ignites a flame of hope that maybe, just maybe, we can rise above our differences at a common time to find a common love, common goal, common good.
As the 2014 FWC champions now take the trophy home to Germany for proud, celebrated safe-keeping, and attention shifts to Russia in anticipation of preparations for the 2018 FWC (though with Rio remaining on the radar for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games), somehow we need to find a way to allow social and political issues to be aired without taking the air out of the purpose of the Games themselves.
Somehow, hopefully soon, expressions of challenge around issues, organisers and activations need to find their rightful place within the greater mega-event infrastructure, keeping the playing fields open to drama of only the finest sporting kind.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2014
When Mother Nature is in a bad mood, nothing is sacred, no one is safe. And nowhere is spared. With unnatural strength and speed, her fury is unleashed, turning homes into havoc, complete communities into kindling, even faith into questioning. It happens over and over. Something, somewhere, broken.
Haiti. Tacloban. Mexico City. Oklahoma City. Bohol. Bangladesh.The list goes on and on…Earthquakes across the most populated and poor centres, floods overflowing across vital farmlands, wildfires down under.
Watching from across the world, these moments happen, these tragedies unfold, and then we move on…
Seconds that change time forever are unleashed, the damage is done, and we move on…
The busyness gets the better of us….and new events occur.
New news gains the headlines.
For the people left behind after the storms have passed, after the world has moved on, their world will never be the same. Broken, the challenge to rebuild is made more painful as all around all that can be seen is death, destruction, desperation, and a complete departure of hope.
And yet they move forward. Homes, and hopes, are rebuilt. Because there is no other option. Going forward is the only possible direction to take. They too must move on.
This is when the world needs to continue to watch, to support, to express loudly and frequently how the heroic efforts of survivors are seen, admired and wanting to be strengthened by a world still watching, still praying for the day when the new normal has become a positive force for the future.
‘Being there‘ takes on so many different shapes and forms when crisis hits. Immediate response brings immediate attention, and hopefully relief.The story brings the support, and the sympathy, and the sense of needing to do something.
But then time, and focus, moves on….
As the months and years pass, and day by day people rebuild their lives, being there shifts in its meaning, in its value. Often, it’s importance strengthens, as the fatigue and frustration can become too much to face, day after day. This is when the being there can simply mean embedding a feeling of not being alone.
Physical presence matters. But it does not stop there. So too does emotional presence.
Not forgetting. But rather by reaching out, reminding those rebuilding that they are in thought, in prayer, being applauded and supported for their remarkable determination to move forward, being defined by their courage, not their crisis.
For one’s darkest days can be felt when one feels so deeply alone.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2014
This April, two different nations once written off as risks, and with reputations for one single thing – heartbreaking, lawbreaking acts to ones own – marked two decades of progress, unity and hope in a way that can only be described by one word: ‘heroic‘.
April 07th, 2014 – RWANDA: 20 years since the beginning of the most horrific time in the nation’s lifetime, costing the lives of over 800,000 Rwandans. Millions of Rwandans were left homeless with shattered spirits as the world stood shamed for inaction. Today, 20 years on, the nation pauses to remember, to forgive, to learn, to move on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOGWikDkjjQ&feature=youtu.be
April 27th, 2014 – SOUTH AFRICA: 20 years since the day all South Africans were able to stand together in voting lines, choosing for the first time their first black President, taking the first steps as a rainbow nation colourblind to face and race. Two decades on, the nation sees and feels the vividness and value of its rainbow bands of colour. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSKZMRg9dXA
While different occasions days apart, they shared one powerful force: pride. Pride in progress. Pride in possibility. Pride in unified commitment to keep moving forward, never ever going back. Pride in new identity.
In a world suffering from bruising of balance sheets, belief in leadership, short-range vision and lethargy of citizen participation, these two nations stand tall as active, tireless examples of nationals working for their better tomorrow, feeling able to feel the benefits of their playing their part.
Have there been challenges, upsets, disappointments, frustrations? Of course. But these have been part of the work in progress journey, collectively, with shared focus on what can be, not what was, or is.
The 20 years of days now passed are not reflected upon with fleeting, passing thought.
Instead words on the milestone dates reflect pauses of heart, tearful eyes remember life changing moments in their peak of emotion. On one hand, lines of panicked refugees fleeing horrors and loss, unable to think of a future. On the other, lines of patient voters waiting to have their finger dipped in ink as they have their say, unable to think of anything but the future.
Today, two decades on these two nations, once broken and now often referred to as ‘miracles‘, are two remarkable representations of nation rebuilding through activation of a nation’s richest resource: the spirit of hope within its people.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2014