Sunday, 26 February 2012

Global Village is a

half hour television programme on our SBS television station in Australia. It usually consists of two short documentaries or one slightly longer one.
Apart from the news service it is almost the only television my father and I watch. Once in a while there may be another documentary which catches our attention but, more often than not, we would struggle to find time to watch it.
So, why do we watch Global Village? We know a number of people who have expressed surprise we should bother with it. One of them put it to us, "I watch television to be entertained, not educated."
My father and I watch it to be educated, not entertained.
The Whirlwind's father records the programme to watch later. He says it is a relaxing half hour while he eats a meal. He saves some of the programmes for the Whirlwind to watch. She is, for a child of her age, singularly disinterested in television. She gets impatient and says, "I want to DO something." Even when she is watching she is doing something else. Nevertheless she likes Global Village programmes.
We all know that part of the pleasure is because of the presenter, Silvio Rivier. He is also an outstandingly good narrator. He seeks out the documentaries, mostly from Europe and provides a translation. His voice is familiar. It is clear. He speaks several languages and has an extraordinary facility for getting his tongue around many others. He also has what appears to be a genuine enthusiasm for his work in his brief introductions to the segments.
      "But why do you bother to watch?" We have been asked this question more than once.
One part of the answer is simple. It gives us an opportunity to virtually experience many things we will never be able to travel and see. We will only experience the lives of a Chinese village doctor, an African shaman, a Chilean miner, a Cuban tobacco sorter, an Eskimo fisherman and many more by watching these things. We will only see religious and cultural festivals and (partly) understand their meaning by seeing them in a virtual way.
But there is something else as well. Someone I know in the northern hemisphere told me how looking out at the moon last night made her feel small and insignificant. Global Village does that too. It is a good way to feel sometimes. It is good to look out and think, "All those things and I know nothing about them."
If we can go on thinking that then surely it has to help us keep a childish capacity for wondering at the world?
Maybe that is not important for some people. It is important for me. I need it. I cannot write without it.

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