Public First Program


Shane Elson


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+61-4-1349 7828

April 2009 # 1

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Back to Editorials 2009

Foot Spas R US

On my way to work on Wednesdays, I sometimes take the long way round. On the longer route I pass a 'spa'. Its housed in a renovated factory type place. You know the kind, all angles, glass and cement. Very trendy and upmarket. The kind of place you don't take the kids, if you know what I mean.

When I walked passed it the other day there was a sign out the front. It read “Easter Bunny Specials” and included the listing “Spiced Chocolate Foot Spa. 15 Mins. $35”. It got me thinking. What do foot spas, the 'global financial crisis', shootings in the US and Easter have to do with each other?

Fifty seven civilians have been killed by gunmen in mass shootings in the US in the last 30 days. Think about that for a minute. We're not looking at acts of gang related violence or criminal links between the victims. These were innocent citizens going about their daily routines when another, seemingly innocent, civilian opened fire on them and shot them dead.

The list of wounded is, of course, much longer. If we take into account those who were not physically harmed but are psychologically scared for life and the families and friends of those involved, we are looking at hundreds of affected people.

Then there is Obama's re-commitment to the so-called “war on terror”. Imagine what the media would have said if up to 13 soldiers at a time were killed – and lets not forget that that is the risk all soldiers get paid to take – going about their business.

There would have been screams for inquiries into why 'our boys' are dying at such alarming rates. But no, there was no such outrage. Just a few mealy mouthed words from the VP and a few congressmen.

In a New York Times article in April 2007, it was reported that over 29,000 people were killed in gun related deaths in the US during 2004 and 176 people per day were injured. That's a staggering 94,000 people directly impacted by gun fire on US soil in one year. Thousands more suffer the terrifying prospect of living with the loss, grief or psychological damage of being related to the shooter or the shot.

If you live in the US, according to a study by the FBI, you may be one of the 3 in 100,000 who will die at the hands of a fellow citizen using a gun this year. If the World Trade Tower collapse only killed about 3,000, why isn't there absolute paroxysms of outrage in 'the homeland'? Perhaps foot spas give us a clue.

In a culture that is suffering from rates of obesity that are truly shocking, a country in which the freedom to bear arms is enshrined in the constitution and a place where everyone wants to be a millionaire, its not that hard to see how the humble foot spa represents the pinnacle of self indulgence and consumer ignorance. The $35, 15 minute foot spa is, if you like, the ultimate anti-society product.

While a little bit of self indulgence is fine from time to time – and who hasn't indulged – becoming self obsessed is pathological. According to the free marketeers, we exist to consume and market forces drive us to co-operate.

However, if were to take seriously the market failure that is driving even more on to the dole queues, we find that selfish behaviour, as dictated by the 'market', doesn't lead to society. It actually drives us apart and pits us against each other in an ever accelerating race to the bottom, the nadir of which is killing each other in order to access whatever resource we think we are being denied a share of.

The sign outside the spa made me think about how we live in such depressing, but nonetheless, exciting times.

Depressing because we are not being given the depth of understanding our leaders and their media should be giving us. The increasing dominance of trivial 'lifestyle' and 'reality' type content that dominates our media truly is creating a reality out of the “let them eat cake” mentality that has infected the rulers of the world.

While our friends and family are impacted by more lay-offs or decreased working hours, the rulers of the world are offered trillions to do what they do best ... take our money – offered freely, no less, by our elected representatives – and continue to enrich themselves.

These same rulers ensure that legislation is put in place that denies ordinary folk the right to protest or take back what is rightfully theirs. If we didn't already, we can now plainly see who is actually represented in our houses of parliament. And it isn't Doris, next door.

So, while all those fellow citizens of ours, who refuse to look up from the titillation and escapism that masquerades as 'news and information', continue to live in blissful ignorance of how hard they are being screwed, is there any hope?

I was brought up to believe that the central message of Easter was about hope. About the possibility of a new world being made possible. I also believe that foot spas do have a place in a healthy society.

However, at present, with the continued decline of ethical society in the US and its spread around the globe, unless we resist and come together to ensure that all have access to the spiced chocolate foot spa every now and again, the times ahead are not going to be very pleasant.

The hope I hold and what makes these times exciting, is that there are growing signs of resistance around the world. These resisters will, eventually, break through and it is this hope that I carry into Easter.

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