Courage of a city on display
Last updated 08:48 24/02/2011
On the night of September 17, 2001, late-night talk show host David Letterman returned to the air for the first time after the 9/11 attacks, and opened by saying "I need to ask your patience and indulgence because I want to say a few things, and believe me, sadly, I'm not going to say anything new, and in the past week others have said what I will be saying here tonight far more eloquently than I'm equipped to do."
I was thinking about his moving, heartfelt opening monologue yesterday as I went back and forth, wondering if I should write a blog post or not, whether anyone would be interested in discussing anything to do with local television, wondering if I should mention the Christchurch earthquake and, if so, how much to mention it, or whether to avoid it.
It doesn't seem right, to me, to be writing about the silly premise of new TV2 fantasy drama Drop Dead Diva, or sharing how I think Hawaii Five-0 might be the best-looking show on TV thanks to high-definition (both of which were ideas I'd thrown around earlier in the week), when the tragedy in Christchurch, shown continuously - by expert teams - on both One and TV3 is still so fresh, still hurting us all on so many levels.
The truth is I don't think I'm equipped to write about such a topic - I am, after all, a simple television blogger.
At the same time, I'm struck by the true value of television at this time: between all the throwaway junk about reincarnated lawyers and cops on tropical islands, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that television does have an incredible ability to unite us, to bring us together and help us share an emotional connection that goes beyond what we're seeing.
With every tragic update from local authorities, every brief shot of the devastation in the city of Christchurch, every sobbing face that I've seen covered in dust or blood, my heart has grown heavier and heavier, screaming out in compassion for those who have lost loved ones or been left homeless. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way.
But while our pain is on display, so too is the best of New Zealand: as firemen helped a woman off the roof of the PGC building, as a rescued man used his moment on television to thank his rescuers and preach hope to those watching at home, and as Mayor Bob Parker appeared time and again, gently and calmly reassuring the people of the city that he loves, I also found myself swelling with pride in our small country.
The very best of New Zealand - and especially Christchurch, whose incredible people have been truly inspiring as they band together, helping each other through this dark time - is on display through the continuous news casts we see on our local channels, and around the world on the BBC, CNN, 7 News Australia, and so many more.
Letterman continued that monologue on September 17, 2001, by saying "It's very simple: there is only one requirement for any of us, and that is to be courageous - because courage, as you might know, defines all other human behaviour."
The courage of a city filled with incredible, brave, but devastated people, and the courage of a nation rising up to help and support them, is surely on display right now, inspiring us and giving hope to those who need it - my friends, that is the true value of television.
One of the most overwhelming feelings I've had in the past couple of days is that I'm powerless to help, since I'm based at the other end of the country. So if you're feeling as I am, I strongly encourage you to help by donating money to the various organisations supporting those affected by this tragedy - a good place to start is with this list at the TVNZ website and a list of online resources is here at PC World. Information for Christchurch residents can be found here on the Stuff website.
To those On the Box readers who are in Christchurch, or in the surrounding areas, or have loved ones in those parts: please know that my love, thoughts and prayers are going out to you all, along with the love and support of our entire nation.
If you have any thoughts, or want to join me in sending regards out to our Cantabrian friends, please feel free to do so below.