Gawen Rudder: What a wonderful world

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Gawen Rudder: What a wonderful world

To quote from a popular movie of happier times, Love is all around, and, together with kindness, make a formidable pair for a better world and happier times that lie ahead, says Gawen Rudder, principal of The Knowledge Consultancy, Sydney.


“And I said to myself, what a wonderful world,” as sung by the late and much-loved ‘Satchelmouth’ (Satchmo), Louis Armstrong. Recalling 1987’s war/comedy film Good Morning Vietnam, this reminded us that, even in times of war, there can be a brighter side to life.

Now we are fighting a very different kind of war. We are masking ourselves against a masked and unpredictable enemy by the name of Covid-19. As with all wars, we must wait for it to end. This leaves us living and longing for an end; peace, if you like.

Thinking about it, the situation many of us are living in (or have lived in) could be the wake-up call needed to shake up those amongst us who remain complacent. Those of us in adland have long been accustomed to partnerships and the stimulation that others used to bring to the table. Many thought it would be the end of advertising as we knew it. We turned to Zoom and found working from home to be a pleasure for many of us. If we take ourselves back to 2020, we now live in a world where almost everything has changed.

Our language has changed, as has what is important to us. Defying what Hugh Mackay has called our “herd instinct,” we tend to automatically stay a safe distance from others. Social distancing is anything but social.

A quote long-attributed to Sir Winston Churchill summarises this best: “If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three opinions.” This third opinion of Keynes, whose ideas changed the theory and practice of economic policies of government, touches on a group of grand-standing self-described ‘experts’ espousing their knowledge to opinion-hungry audiences.

In times when we are faced with changing and often confusing information from the powers that be, there is a massive need to build the credibility, not only of the message, but of the messenger. Two opinions which leave us to decide whether to go with style or substance. Your choice. Medicos tend to be foremost amongst these, but it is surprising how they differ in their opinions. I even saw a retired quiz show host sharing his opinions. Those watching TV will have noted the annoying use of repeat/ repeat/repeat. At least the ABC has brought back Gruen with Wil and the team. Call it ‘talking heads’, take your pick with each of the specialists, each with their own brand of expertise and political leanings.

Stop press: I’ve just watched a beleaguered politician (not named) attempting to explain what a road map means. “Well, it is just like any other road map, you can encounter all sorts of things; there may be potholes, a diversion, a detour, breakdowns, a no through road sign, or whatever. Hopefully not a sink hole”.

Anything can happen. Staying with advertising, Belgio and Jo collaborated to take the ‘congratulated’ out of the old Meadowlea TVC and substituted the word ‘vaccinated’. A clever idea. Simple and obvious. Let’s call it a wonderful commercial. Eighty year old Jo’s gravel voice does not appear to have changed over the years, and still sounds like honey poured over blue metal. With a touch of humour and nostalgia, it beat the hell out of those commercials showing people being vaccinated. No one, with the possible exception of a masochist, likes to watch others being jabbed.

For all its critics, at least Siimon’s Grim Reaper did the job needed at the time, scaring us into action.

America’s TIME magazine recognised Dolly Parton as one of 2021’s most influential people, in part for putting her money where her mouth is, donating $1million to help fund the Moderna vaccine.

Let’s focus on more positives. As Hugh Mackay outlines in his 2021 book, The Kindness Revolution, we appear to have rediscovered kindness. We have become more conscious of one another, especially as we have been in lockdown. We call up old friends and are mindful of checking in on those who live alone. When exercising, we step aside to ensure social distancing, especially with older people. We are more generous when donating to causes in countries less fortunate than ours, or to those amongst us who have fallen on hard times. With old friends and new, we discover that kindness is catching. We have become more conscious of children and the world they are growing up in. For those under three or four who knew little of the normal world their elder brothers or sisters may have experienced, they need love and kindness as they enter a new world. More and more however, we need to keep watch on teenagers and young adults for early signs of depression that might lead to suicide.

That said, and to quote from a popular movie of happier times, “Love is all around,” and, together with kindness, make a formidable pair for a better world and happier times that lie ahead.