Can bloggers change the world?


I’ve been in a situation for the last few weeks where I haven’t seen or read a newspaper, watched TV or listened to the radio.  The only newspaper I’ve seen is the hundred year old front page of The Auckland Star, a now defunct newspaper, and this page was a facsimile, framed, and hanging in odd places in our various homes over the years.

 It was dated 11 February 1913. Two thirds of the page was filled with the main story which had shocked the Empire (there was only one empire back then, and it was British!). The rest of the space was taken up with smaller items, an African revolt in Mozambique, quelled by the Portuguese, the terrible fighting between Serbs and Turks with high casualties, another item in which the Turkish commander of Adrianople on hearing of the proposed neutralisation of the fortress promised ” to take care to put the 40,000 Bulgarians who live here out of the way. I shall confide the women and children to the foreign consuls, turn the guns on all the Bulgarians and then convert Adrianople to a giant rubbish heap”.

 Beneath this was a story about the Turkish Red Cross addressing European sovereigns asking them to recall the law of Christ to stop Christian forces committing the most ghastly outrages and assassinations on Turks witnessed in Europe in modern times. Under this item was the English response to the Australian Cricket Association’s investigation into the behaviour of the team in England, followed by a report from Melbourne on the arrest of two Chinese involved in an enterprise with Hong Kong Chinese to smuggle ‘Chinese persons’ into the Commonwealth.

 A political crisis in Japan had provoked rioting which was put down by the army, and the English House of Lords debated compulsory physical training and elementary military skills to: “lay a foundation … on which a scheme of national defence could be based if unforeseen dangers menaced the country”. At the bottom of the page, an unforeseen menace, the Kaiser, was reported as having unexpectedly addressed the university centenary celebration, and “delivered a fiery panegyric upon German military virtues”.

 And Suffragettes had a smashing time in London, where they broke the windows of the Reform, Carlton, Junior Carlton, Oxford and Cambridge Clubs, and Prince Christian’s house ( what had he done?). “The missiles were of “lead and fireclay balls”.

 The only other news of women was the report of the Kaiser’s daughter’s betrothal to Prince Ernst of Cumberland. Nothing very different there. Serbs killing, refugees being driven from their homes and ‘confided to the care of foreign consuls’, cricketing misdemeanours, African riots, Japanese politics, boat people trying to get into Australia, suffragettes protesting, reports on princelings, are still the stuff of the news today. Substitute Syrians for Serbs, feminists for suffragettes, and it could just as easily be the front page of any newspaper today.

 What made this day in history different was the story which filled the rest of the page and which has grabbed the imagination of the world ever since – the story of a man who failed. First, he failed to achieve his objective, and then he failed to get back safely.

 The main headline reads: “Scott Party Perish”, followed by the next headline: “Five Who Made The Final Dash”, and then another headline: “Lost In A Blizzard.” And then another headline (they made the most of headlines in 1913): “After Reaching The South Pole”. Below, yet another headline: ” A World Wide Sensation”, followed at last by the main story, two sentences, the first saying they’d reached the South Pole on January 18, and perished in a blizzard, the second, listing the five who perished.

 And this story is the only clue to how things really have changed in the last hundred years, even though they may seem to look much the same.  Scott and his men would not have died now – they would have had the latest dietary discoveries to sustain them, they could have gone on tractors or skis, or any of several different ways, and kept in touch with the media and their families with all the different forms of communication we now have at our disposal … they might even have been able to keep us up to date on Facebook, and Twittered their families regularly.

 The marvels of modern communication are what really are changing the world … so that maybe – just maybe – that page of news items may seem very dated in another hundred years.  But the other thing which has changed since that day in 1913 is what we’ve done to our planet in the last hundred years, destruction on a scale that actually threatens the survival of the human race, and prompts some to wonder if it has a future.

 Maybe the biggest change since that day of news in 1913 is the change in our mind-set… we have a United Nations now, which is supposed to help bring peace to troubled hot-spots… at least the intention is there. We have governments who talk about the happiness levels of their people, and maybe best of all, we have the internet to unite us to change things.

 We all know that riots, revolutions and parties can be created with a few text messages, but there’s something deeper and more important happening in the world that we bloggers inhabit. That is the growth of groups and individuals who use this medium to change things for the better.

 The biggest and most successful so far is the group known as Avaaz, which now has millions of members world-wide who create and follow up petitions to governments to rescue women about to be stoned for having been raped, petitions to stop destruction of ancient tribal lands and forests, to tackle Monsanto and their environmental damage, to lobby European countries to stop using pesticides to save our bees.

Their range of concerns cover all the issues of our small world and the more of us who can support them the more likely we are to change this precious world for the better. So far they’ve achieved their aims on many issues both great and small, and saved a few women. And yes – that’s a commercial … and Avaaz is the name!


Food for Threadbare Gourmets

 At last we have some rain, and the autumn mist now hanging over us makes me hope that perhaps we will get some mushrooms springing up in the grass outside our house… some years we do, some we don’t, and I never know why. If we do, and we only have a few, they will go with bacon for my husband. But if we have plenty I’ll cook them in butter with some chopped garlic, add chopped parsley and then some thick cream to bubble up. Poured over toasted sour dough bread, they are tasty and delicious.

Food for thought

When we do dote upon the perfections and beauties of some one creature, we do not love that too much, but all other things too little. Never was anything in this world loved too much, but many things have been loved in a false way; and all in too short a measure.

Thomas Traherne 1636 -1674  English metaphysical poet who remained unpublished for two hundred years.







Filed under cookery/recipes, great days, history, life and death, peace, philosophy, politics, sustainability, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

23 responses to “Can bloggers change the world?

  1. This is an excellent post. And in keeping with my quote for today by Jacque Fresco (March 13, 1916 – ) an American Futurist, “Today we have access to highly advanced technologies. But our social and economic system has not kept up with our technological capabilities that could easily create a world of abundance, free of servitude and debt.”

    I confess this is the very first I heard of AVAAZ. I headed over to their link and was amazed by their forward movement. And to think they are only 5 years old. I am following them now on Twitter and Facebook. They already have 30 Million members!!

    You asked, “can blogger change the world?” Absolutely, especially when we write from the heart, with compassion and determination.


    • Hello Rebecca – so glad you popped over to Avaaz – they’re amazing aren’t they… I’ve been following them for three years now, and have been really impressed with what they do…
      Do hope lots of people join and spread the word!!!
      Great quote XXX


  2. We have all these things, yet what is happening on a grand scale is we are falling backwards. Isn’t it strange? Human suffering seems to be something we relish watching, bemoaning and then turning away from. Does this sound gloomy? I read recently a NASA report about the end of civilization as we know it. The comparisons to other civilizations Rome, Mayan, Greek and ours was telling and yet despite our historical knowledge, our technological advances; we proceed merrily down the same paths.

    Valerie, I loved your comparisons. Truly I loved the old newspaper. Can bloggers save the world? Yes, maybe we could. If enough of us write the way you do, with compassion and insight, just maybe we could


  3. Another tour-de-force by Valerie Davies!


  4. Good one. Newspaper ‘South Pole’ put me to mind of the first Everest climbers with such amazing lack of gear. Alvaas is also new to me. Will now go to have a look,


    • Thank you Bruce, good to hear from you… yes Everest was amazing, wasn’t it… Hillary’s sun- hat had been made by his sister, while Mallory’s gear was perfect for s walk in the English country-side !


  5. As you wrote the various headlines I couldn’t help thinking, just a word change here or there and that’s today. How far we have advanced but yet how little…..Hmmmm….mushrooms. Lucky you.


  6. Amazing how little improvement the world has seen despite The War to End All Wars. Scott certainly disproved the theory about nobody remembering who comes second – but he had to be rather extreme about how he did it.
    Avaaz … Do they really carry any impact, I wonder, or has familiarity bred comtempt?


  7. This is my first time to learn of ACAAZ; I thank you so very much for the link. I am heading over now to follow!

    ✿♥ღ Linda


  8. Sobering, how little the Australian refugee issue has changed, to say nothing of the rest. But you make a great point! I wonder if all this worldwide talk (on blogs and elsewhere) about mental health and positivity might also change the things we focus on as a globe. It’d be nice to think the bad news eventually gets filtered out – and I wonder how many wars would continue if it did? But then, I like to dream… 🙂


  9. Yes, dreaming is good for us ! I like to think that I’m an idealistic realist on these matters – if there is such a thing !!!


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    online. I am going to highly recommend this site!


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