22nd August 1999
So it's been a while, but I figure that there's no point in saying something when I've got nothing to say. Sometimes I go for weeks without having thoughts - on anything. But then there's a sudden glitch in the Matrix and I am compelled to write. This week's glitch was brought to you by courtesy of annoyance.
I wonder, can we trust anything to remain untouched and unadulterated in these times of sensationalism? It sickens me that I find myself switching between different news programmes looking for the most graphic images of a plane crash. But I suppose we don't realise how cheap this kind of entertainment is until it has something to do with us.
For example, I was watching the movie "Enemy of the state" starring Will Smith last week when something caught my eye. Do you remember that part in the movie where they show the main command centre of the NSA? Do you remember those big screens in the background showing what appear to be live images from across the world? Something they were showing on those screens looked very familiar. When I took a closer look I realised there was a reason for that - the pictures were from news footage of our Central Bank bomb blast!
Now I ask you, isn't that in pretty bad taste? I realise that movies are supposed to be reflections of reality and that they have to make it as real as possible. But the thing is that unless they are told different, people expect to be watching fiction when they watch a movie. And although it wouldn't have made a darned bit of difference to a vast majority of the people watching, those shots are far from being fiction for some people. What about those who lost loved ones in the blast? What a shock seeing that must have been for them. But then Hollywood was never known for subtlety.
Then there's AirLanka. Sorry, Sri Lankan. I still haven't completely made the mental switch but I suppose I'll get used to it - we all will. It's just another one of those things no one noticed until they decided to change it. Lots of people seem unhappy about the new look. I kind of like it. I'm sorry about being a "traitor", but personally I feel that a lot more goes on for people to be angry about than giving the national carrier a long overdue update on a twenty year old look.
It's not that I like everything about the "new look". For starters, I think the new logo could have been better. It somehow reminds me of a skinned broiler chicken hung up for sale in a glass box at Pamankada junction. But it is a very modern and funky looking chicken and much more fluid and colourful than the rigid old logo. Things have to change with the times. Sure we were all used to, familiar and comfortable with the old logo and AirLanka. But you know what they say - comfortable, though comfortable, is old and boring.
The official story makes sense - that's why it's the official story - if the airline is to grow and become an international competitor, it needs to shed its "old" image. "Sri Lankan" needs to appeal to an international clientele to be competitive. Some accuse the airline of abandoning the people who've been its patrons for twenty years to pander to "Suddahs". They ask if it makes good business sense. I mean, there's no guarantee that this "new image" in itself will bring international travellers in by the buckets, so do they really want to alienate the people who've been flying it all along? But that argument doesn't hold any water and we know it. We can't afford to complain any more - it's our own fault for being so predictable in our apathy that multinational companies are willing to bet their futures on it.
Sri Lankans are an essentially lazy people. We love our little comfort zones. We go out of our way to be comfortable. That's part of the reason why a war has raged on for seventeen years without too many people noticing. But although these comfort zones keep us comfortable, they also keep us blind. There are some battles that are worth fighting and some that just aren't. Using other people's pain and suffering for sensationalism is far worse than changing a look for practicality. It's not cool that they chose Sri Lankan footage for a blockbuster movie and it's not the end of the world that a plane got a paintjob - the sooner we realise that, the sooner everything else will start to fall into place as well.
Bullying can mean many different things. These are some ways children and young people have described bullying:
* being called names
Children get bullied
* at school - in the playground, in class or in the toilets
What does it feel like to be bullied?
Bullying hurts. It makes you scared and upset. It can make you so worried that you can't work well at school. Some children skip school to get away from it. It can make you feel that you are no good, that there is something wrong with you. Bullies can make you feel that it's your fault..
Why do bullies do it?
* They have their own problems - they may feel upset or angry or feel
that they don't fit in - perhaps they have problems at home?
Sometimes adults bully too
Adults can and do bully children - mums and dads, other family members, and teachers, for example. They may do it by making you feel bad in front of other people, by shouting and scaring you, by teasing or making fun of you. It can be very difficult to do something about it, especially if the adult is the one you would normally go to about being bullied. Don't give up - find a sympathetic adult, perhaps another teacher and talk to them about the problem.
How to stop the bullying
If you are being bullied, you can do something about it.
You can make a difference!
* TELL, TELL, TELL
Remember - it's right to tell an adult that you are being bullied and to ask for their help. But you don't have to let them take over. You can talk with them about what you would like to happen.
Are you a bully?
If you are bullying, or have bullied someone, it is a good idea to get some help. Who could you speak to? A teacher? Your parents?
Helping a friend
Maybe you're not being bullied, but you know someone who is - perhaps that person is not even a good friend, but a class-mate or someone from another class? Have you ever stood around and noticed that someone was being bullied, but you weren't sure what, if anything, you could do? Or thought that nothing you could do would make a difference?
Don't ignore bullying. You can help. Don't let the bullies get away with thinking that no-one will do anything. Here are a few things you can do, and a couple that you can't:
* Don't rush over and take them on - it might not be safe and you don't
want other people to think you are a bully
Your school should be clearly saying NO to bullying.
* Get everyone in your school involved in tackling bullying, not just the teachers, but other pupils, and minor staff as well.
* Find out how much bullying goes on in your school. Get together with other pupils and a teacher to organise a questionnaire about bullying (you can make sure that no-one reads the individual answers by putting them in a locked box). Once you have received all the answers, you can write up a short report for everyone to read.
* Make sure your school has a good selection of anti-bullying books and other information in its library. Suggest that the school runs an anti-bullying week.
* Talk to your teachers about having assemblies and discussions in class about bullying - classes could produce posters, pictures, poems, stories, plays which could be shared with the rest of the school.
* Children need to feel safe at break time and lunchtime in the playgrounds - are there lots of things to do and supervisors around?
* In some schools, older children help younger children if they are being bullied. Some have set up "peer counselling" schemes run by the pupils to help children who are being bullied, but also to help children who bully. If you would like more information about peer counselling, ask your teachers.
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