22. What the cross is all about
To have some fun with journalists (or should I say, I provided fun for them) I sometimes combined two doubtful stories I had read, and linked one to the other. The following email is the result of hearing about three missing northern suburbs boys. I felt the story was possibly faked, because it made headline news within hours of the children’s disappearance. (Next day they were reported safe and well in the care of a man in the southern suburbs).
The second item was about a very old man in Western Australia leaving 11.2 million dollars to a kind neighbour. I emailed the journalist at News Limited, who wrote the story:
It's a pity that the three boys have been found. Let me explain.
When I heard about their disappearance, I dreaded another Beaumont case. It was so similar, except Carisbrook Park has no beach. The kids may have been up the creek when they disappeared. Anyway, to be a step ahead I had contacted the 75 year old neighbour of Alf Jenkins of Narrogin, Western Australia. I asked what is an old bloke like you going to do with 11.2 million dollars. Could you spare a couple of million, we have 3 boys missing in Adelaide for 12 hours already. The money would come in handy to find them (1.5 million as a reward for information, the rest for a search and rescue mission to save the children).
Well, the good news is the boys are back - the bad news, Alf Jenkins' money would have done some good. Isn't is amazing that you always hear of people coming into money and you think - Do they really need it? Hope they don't waste it. Must go and visit my friend's old dad. He is 94 and lives very frugal. But what a shame - he has three sons. Then again, he is my mate!! Then again, he lives very frugal and is only my age. Life is not fair!
The Beaumont children’s disappearance in the 1970’s is one of the state’s most baffling mysteries. Three children from one family disappeared in a beachside suburb without a trace.
The last few lines of above email are fact; I have a 94 year old friend who lives very frugal and has three sons. The earlier part was the fun element, based on a newspaper report.
The media holds a very powerful position in society. Who picks the stories that make headline news? Who decides who is favoured to become the flavour of the month? Who chooses the menu that is dished up to the sheep, as they daily diet? Little wonder, owning a big newspaper company and/or TV or radio station, is in high demand by the super rich.
Knowledge is power. But ultimate power is to know and tap into the power of God. Our bank balance does not count here.
Another question I would love answered truthfully: “Can an honest journalist really express and publicize his or her findings or views, if they don’t suit or are contrary to those of the owners of the media he works for?” Or is the journalist, who ‘toes the line’, promoted ahead of the one that asks the hard questions? How long would I last as a journalist, if this website was not mine, but controlled by a media baron?
Earlier in this chapter I reported a car crash that I had witnessed with my own eyes and saw two TV crews present. Why did our daily newspaper, the Advertiser, not take up the story? Who decided it was not worthy of writing about?
In February 04 I saw a late evening news-update on TV’s Channel 9. It was very brief:
“The convicted paedophile Mr. Liddy appeared in the Adelaide Magistrate Court today, charged with a further eight counts of sexual abuse”.
Such news was a sensation to my mind, since I had taken special interest in the case. The next day I searched the Advertiser newspaper very thoroughly, but could not find a word on this breaking news story from the previous day. Who decided to not report this in the printed media? This kind of headline used to be front page material. What had changed?
I had heard of “media blackouts”. My understanding of it is that a valid reason must exist to justify silence in the public arena.. Was the Liddy case and anything connected with it now under a media blackout? Had there been developments I hadn’t heard about?
Who has the power to decide when to impose such radical measure? Is there a mechanism in place to audit this authority? Who would control proceedings, if this instrumentality was in breach of guidelines and was to be investigated?
I am doing what I had done so many times – ask the hard questions. If I, an ordinary citizen, can no longer ask valid questions about media reporting, without fear of retribution, God help us.
Do we want a society filled with blind sheep, who follow whoever has achieved success in influencing the masses. As long as there is food on the table and something interesting on television, why go to the trouble of thinking for yourself? Thinking is hard work. Speaking out, when the numbers don’t add up, is even harder; it does nothing for your relationships with your friends. You may not have any friends left after a few whistle blowing sessions.
But someone has to do it.
By chance I happened to read an article about whistle blowers in a weekend newspaper in March 04. Because I hated the word whistle blower, I wrote to the writer, an ABC journalist:
During a brief visit last Sunday (28/3/04) I happened to read your article in the Perth Newspaper about whistle blowers. This name has such a bad ring to it (or should I say - whistling sound) that I am proposing a new name - Lot.
Lovers of truth.
If people were not so gullible and/or timid, there would be a lot more of us Lots. I have been a particular outspoken Lot, since I have seen so many things that I perceive as injustices and can't keep them to myself, but feel I must speak out.
Unfortunately, in South Australia many neither agree with what I am saying or
they are afraid of becoming a Lot themselves. They can see what happens
to a lot of us Lots. As a Lot you are slandered or become the victim of rumors
and/or innuendo. Lots are marked for life, despite wanting nothing, but the truth to be heard.
One day Christ will ensure HIS truth is revealed. Nothing can stop that day and it is approaching fast. All will know the truth and the truth shall set us free.
Even Pauline Hanson learned that lesson during her recent, unjust imprisonment.
What a shame she quit politics. She had such a lot going for her. If I started a Club for "Lots of Australia" - she'd make a good 'Minute Secretary'.
A suggested slogan - "Lost the plot? Ask a Lot!"
Dieter Rolf Fischer
PS I can still be a whistleblower - but it has more to do with soccer,
my reason for visiting Perth.
Pauline Hanson, the founder of a new political party and former MP, had been imprisoned for alleged breaches of the Electoral Act. She was freed after a few months and is reported to be seeking compensation.
In my “news update” of 4/7/03 I reported that a political storm was brewing in South Australia. The senior advisor to our Premier was dismissed from his position, pending charges of misconduct. The dark clouds that had gathered never produced a storm. Our State-Attorney-General stood aside for a few weeks amidst allegations, which proved to be false. He was soon re-instated; none of the facts against him stood the test. Is court action against the senior advisor of our Premier ongoing? Very little is mentioned about it on radio or TV or indeed in the press, unless I missed it all or there is a “media blackout” in place.
In another news update dated 31/07/03 I reported the public’s call for justice after a young man shot at a newspaper delivery driver, who had lost an eye as a result. The young man was from a rich Adelaide family and received less punishment, than had he broken the speed limit on the road. The case sparked a lively debate in the press and on talkback radio; a big outcry seldom seen in our city.
After a relatively brief legal dispute, the government won an appeal to have the sentence reviewed, despite the public prosecutor objecting to politicians interfering in court matters. In a history-making decision a revised sentence was handed down – 21 months jail, non-parole.
I was present during one of the hearings at the ‘Samuel Way’ building on Adelaide’s Victoria Square. How and why is a story in itself, but I believe that God’s guidance, which is very real and without fail, led me to be there at the time.
Because the case received lots of media attention the courtroom that morning was expected to be filled very quickly; it was. The security officer pointed out the rule for admission by the public – no seat, no entry.
Just as well I had arrived early to claim my spot. Proceedings were about to start, when one lady walked towards the bench where journalists were sitting. They were packed in like sardines already; the person at the end virtually resting on one buttock.
“Please someone let me squeeze in,” the young lady pleaded. Her size was such that her request sounded more like a joke, or she believed in miracles.
“I am a journalist, I was delayed, my boss is going to kill me, if I don’t make my report, “she continued, as she eyed up the three inch space between me and Ian. Ian was a fit looking, retired gentleman, who had shown special interest in the case. (As I was arriving outside Court 3 earlier, he had called out: “Hi, Dieter!” How did he know my name? I had no idea how well known around Adelaide I was). We sat together inside the courtroom.
Ian and I were both very slim, but there was no way this journalist, dressed in a bright pink dress, would fit between us two. I took the only option available - I stood and gave her my seat. My reason for being there (why was I there?) definitely was not as valid as that of the big lady. I felt sorry for Ian and the rest of the people on the bench. It would have been a very intimate court hearing that morning.
Later I wondered, if the lady in pink, and some people associated with her, had staged the scene. Was it for my benefit? Was I again being tested for whatever reason? Why was I always thinking that I was being tested? Who was worried about me? Is this just my big ego wanting to be placed at centre stage? My family certainly believed this to be the case and was not shy in reminding me regularly of this fact.
But what if my case was being taken seriously by some people; if those who wanted to believe my writing were testing me? Would I live the life I was advocating for others to live? Would I walk the walk and not just talk the talk?
On March 20th 2004 such a phenomenon may have taken place. On the way to a driving lesson outside a house I noticed a garbage bin had fallen over, spilling rubbish onto the road. During my US stint nearly a year earlier I had picked up some rubbish, claiming that an inner urge – possibly God - had prompted me to do it.
Before this March (rubbish) incident, let me tell you about a similar “clean-up operation a month prior. Taking my dog for a walk one Monday morning, I noticed rubbish had spilled all over the front garden of a house. I just placed it back into the bin that was to be collected that day. It was again that feeling that I was being tested that made me pick it up. As if to confirm my action, one of the large cartons in the bin had the letters AVON written on it. The car registration number of the vehicle in the driveway was 041.
On that Saturday afternoon (March 20th) the same urge to clean up the rubbish was gnawing at me. Towards the end of the driving lesson my client and I drove by the house, the rubbish still littering the roadway. I noticed a man working on a vehicle in his driveway right there, wearing a T-shirt with a large number 7 on the back. This number stirred my thinking even more. After I had finished with my client I argued with myself, which way to drive home - the longer way and pick up the rubbish or straight home, the quicker way.
This all took place in Salisbury North, a suburb in Adelaide’s north that had a reputation for trouble and social problems. I could have thought of many reasons to not bother listening to my inner urge, to clean up the mess. But I steered in the direction of the littered roadway. It felt very uncomfortable, stopping opposite the house on the busy road. There were people in the vicinity. I walked across and started to pick up the bits of leftover food, plastic bottles etc. and placed it into their garbage bin.
Number seven was still working on the car. Suddenly a teenager appeared from within the house. Without a word he immediately stooped down to help pick up the rubbish. I noticed his T-shirt had the number 5 printed on the front. Something inside me said: hello! To top off my suspicion that there was a little play-acting taking place, I noticed the number on the letterbox as I walked away - number 75. It was all over in less than a minute.
If this was not a prompting from God, but my own mind wanting to see the environment clean, so be it. But the numbers on the boy’s jumper and T-shirt matching the number on the letterbox really amazed and amused me.
Perhaps the people involved were laughing at me, the silly stranger, jumping from a driving-school car and picking up their rubbish? Who cares? As long as God was having HIS way in my life, I was happy.
Perhaps it took someone like me, with a history of mental illness, to pick up the rubbish? As mentioned previously, I regarded the risk of being disobedient to the inner voice (just in case it was God) as greater than the embarrassment of making a fool of myself. At this stage in my journey I had come to recognize when God was planning something out of the ordinary. HE still does, almost daily.
My journal is filled with page after page of all the wonderful things God had done and is doing every day. If there are people who believe in what I am writing and find God through it, I shall never even consider the loneliness, the pain and the ridicule I suffer.
This is what the cross is all about.