I’ve read some very interesting articles in The Guardian from different perspectives on both Brexit and Trump. By ‘different perspectives’ I mean different from my own – ie outside ‘the bubble.’ It has been fascinating (and I think important) to learn more about what motivated (and motivates) people to vote for and support Trump (and Brexit), and what their hopes and aspirations are for the future.
I’ve also read some frankly chilling and terrifying articles revealing some of the background to the Trump and Brexit elections. None more so than this one by Carole Cadwalladr (Observer journalist). It’s a long and detailed read, but really important and worth paying attention to.
It’s also been interesting to see how many writers of blogs that are generally about crafting and particular lifestyles, or just about the everyday lives of the people writing them, have felt impelled to write about ‘politics’ and protest in ways they haven’t done before. This stuff is deeply, deeply felt, and there is so much pain, anger and fear – on all sides of the arguments.
I’ve continued reading blog posts from different perspectives, and I’ve been particularly heartened by some of the comments on blogs – especially those from people who for example voted for Trump and are now seeing the reaction of others to the results of his election.
I’ve watched how sometimes when a person has tentatively (very nervously I would say) stuck their neck out and tried to explain why they did that, they’ve immediately been set upon by others who hold contrary views. I understand the anger, but really, unless we’re prepared to allow people to speak honestly how will we ever move things beyond shouting each other down through a wall? (provided the speaking is done respectfully of others – I will not allow for sexism, racism or other oppressive expressions).
So my plea is for us all to think before we speak, before we type, before we press the ‘publish’ button – are we refusing to hear? are we putting our fingers in our ears and shouting louder? are we failing to take the chance to hear, to understand, and maybe to build the very alliances we need to move things on? Can we find a way to express what we want/need to say in a way that is respectful of others?
Dar from ‘An Exacting Life‘ wrote about reframing ‘political correctness’ as simply ‘respect for all’. And who can argue with the need to treat everyone with respect? Even, I would argue, those with whom we disagree profoundly.
2. TAKE CONTROL
Oh the emails I’ve written, the petitions I’ve signed. Does any of it do any good? Perhaps. Maybe. (Well in some cases I know it did to some good – several people under threat of immediate deportation saved from that and now able to use the legal avenues of appeal or representation open to them).
But I cannot stand by and look the other way, stand by and stay silent. So I’ve set myself a target of writing one letter/email a week encouraging something I believe to be good, and one protesting something I believe to be wrong.
And I don’t beat myself up over the many I don’t sign, don’t write. The protests I don’t go on. The actions I don’t take.
I did go to a lovely celebration of the contributions made to Bath by people from other countries (1 day without us). There were a lot of us there, and it was reported in the press. What a shame then that the local press chose to (mis)represent it as ‘migrants airing their grievances about Brexit’ – it was about as far from that as is possible.
Do what we can, accept our limitations, live our lives now as well as think about the future.
3. BUILD COMMUNITY
There is a lot of generosity and good will out there. Sometimes we just have to ask and people are happy to share their knowledge, skills and abilities.
Small voluntary organisations like the City Farm need it now more than ever – there is an ever-growing task for the voluntary sector to pick up when state provision fails, or when what it provides is far from enough.
In January we (the City Farm) needed someone to advise us on how to move our use of ICT forward. I asked, and a former work colleague offered to help us for free (We had expected and intended we would pay him – we are extremely grateful for his expert help, every penny we spend has to be fundraised somehow or another).
We have such ambition to do more with and for our community, and such a wealth of talent, skills and generosity to draw on within our community. What we also need is for those who have money to share it and allow (enable) us to achieve our dreams.
“You gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?”
(Lyrics, South Pacific – Happy Song (Rogers and Hammerstein)
4. LOOK AFTER THE PLANET
I’m not sure what to write here this month. All the thoughts I’ve had and the actions I’ve taken are frankly rather tiny and pathetic.
I’ve done some work on my allotment; I’ve lobbied (unsuccessfully so far) for my council to provide the option of small rubbish bins for households when they move (at last!) to fortnightly collections later this year instead of the massive 140l bins they plan to give every household; I’ve signed heaven knows how many petitions. I haven’t flown anywhere; I have made choices to use the train. But I’ve also sometimes used my car when I could have cycled or used the train.
On the other hand, I’ve spent a lot of time working with the City Farm on plans to develop and expand the services we provide, which are used by the widest range of people you can imagine, and introduce many to the joy of being outside in nature, of caring for the earth and animals (and each other), and that gives me hope and optimism.
Does it amount to anything? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not enough. But being conscious of the choices we make is a reasonable place to start. We have to start from where we are, and here I am.