Changes

I apologise in advance that my blog’s become a bit political. It might last, or not, it will depend on how angry I am and how long it takes for this extraction to heal. Both are fuelling unhappiness, only one can be cured with salt water gargles and time. For the other, therefore, controlled venting will release some pain.

Corbyn has written a piece in the Guardian that frankly I don’t want to read, simply on the strength of the headline. In this world where engagement is key, and the first fifteen seconds of words in your face define much, this headline’s a joke:

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No, Jezza, you didn’t. If you had ‘won the argument’ I’d have woken up on Friday to red everywhere and the rich bailing out of this country en mass. In a straight race between stupidity and you, tens of thousands of people undoubtedly changed the habits of a lifetime before voting to become sacrificial lambs. The fact you’re able to write this stuff and believe you won is a lot to do with why the Labour Party has finally imploded.

The reaction of people such as Mr Galloway up there is, undoubtedly, the means by which grief will be dealt with going forward. I may know squat about political history, but really… ‘Blue’ Labour or a Workers Party is not the way you fix this. It’s not about thinking that somehow, class is the problem. It really isn’t. You know what all the issues are, and if you don’t over the last month you’ve not been paying attention.

I’ve seen the polling: nobody likes Corbyn. Rachel Riley achieved her objective, as did everybody else who made this election about divisive, dangerous labels. Antisemitism, nuclear weapons, devolution, nationalisation… ‘broadband communism’ was the tip of an iceberg that nobody thought was going to sway voters in places where they can afford broadband, and a night out a week, plus a decent holiday if the travel company don’t go bust.

If you want a label to work on, use ‘wealth’ as your baseline. You’re taught from birth to dream big, aspire, be whatever you want to be… and so you try, and then if you succeed you become the aspirational benchmark for others. Then comes the day when you have enough money to eat and live well, and as more people reach that point, business invents more ways to take that money back and keep a chosen few in gold plated toilets.

It is not enough to tax billionaires, or regulate pharmaceutical companies, or fine petrochemical companies for driving humanity to extinction. Until you stop telling children that wealth equals success, nothing changes. Until society, as one, is prepared to abandon consumerism, the planet will disintegrate. Doesn’t matter how many cows you don’t breed, or vegans you create. Except no-one would dare stifle an individual’s right to free speech or aspiration, or choice.

Except, at some point in the future, it has to happen.

I read a piece on Medium yesterday which suggests we’re seeing the ultimate demise of Western Society: starting with the US and the UK. There’s a lot of truth in the concept, I think, based on how arrogance and greed have begun to alter the very fabric of societal interaction. It’s all well and good if you’re able to escape the gravity of poverty, but increasing numbers of people can’t and won’t. This is fundamentally wrong.

The answer is not a political party that represents the diversity of the ‘working class’, it is a political party that doesn’t use labels, or need to say it represents a certain ‘type’ of people. We need politics to challenge those who feel they are above the law, who manipulate information for their own ends, who destroy natural resources in the name of progress. People who want to help fuel real change can be rich too. Many are.

It is not your accumulation of wealth that ever matters where money still cannot buy you the ability to live forever. That irony, that the rich will survive as the planet burns, or be the ones who become the space-faring pioneers is an irony that in generations might result in humanity ceasing to exist. Without diversity in nature, extinction is inevitable.

Embracing all of humanity in your political party should really be a given.

One Week

God, what happened?

There was always the potential of a train wreck, but I doubt ANYBODY thought a week ago they’d wake up this morning to pictures of Lawyers waiting for flights so they could offer their services to US citizens who overnight had become the enemy. No-one anticipated Canada would welcome Asylum seekers with US passports. Most of us never considered the possibility that less than ten days after the Orange Twat came to power, there’d be a petition on the UK Government website wanting to ban him *for a second time* from the UK because a state visit would be an embarrassment for the Queen.

This petition will top half a million signatures by teatime at the current rate of uptake. However, some people have no idea there’s a problem. Many, many people do not see the issues at play here: not because they’re ignorant or stupid, or indeed because they don’t care. Half the planet lives in ignorance of all of this, and most don’t do so by choice. They are more concerned with a meal and a roof over their heads. Internet for them is a luxury that is largely irrelevant if you’re unlikely to live to see the end of the day. We are, like it or not, an entitled bunch of whiny, self absorbed wankers.

This afternoon I had a discussion with someone who told me, in all seriousness, I should advocate the banning of the BBC. On any other day this would have been an interesting discussion to have, but I hate to break it to those people not paying attention that there are more important things to try and get stopped, banned, revoked and removed than an institution that does a phenomenal amount of good amongst legitimate claims of bias and self interest. Yeah, no massive corporation is perfect, this is hardly news. However when you realise that in many countries without our level of opulence the BBC is often the only uncensored or ‘independent’ reporting some people get, and even if you think it’s biased, marxist crap it’s still news. Not everything is a conspiracy when you’re unable to read or write, or don’t have a home that’s your own. Still, people peddle their own agendas without a grasp of the wider world. What we need is MORE objectivity, new reporting mediums, more feedback and not to ban or remove ANYONE who’s trying to educate or inform. We even need the enemy to keep feeding us their crap, so that eventually it can be swept aside in a tide of revolution.

I’ve seen inspiration in a lot of places this week. Good people, doing their jobs. My legal friends have gone silent on Twitter and I hope this means they too are out there at an airport somewhere, pro-bono-ing for all they are worth. Someone asked how you help people in the US right now and all we have effectively is ourselves to offer as raw materials. That means this week I listen to anyone who needs it. I can be a sympathetic ear, or offer words of comfort. I can write blog posts to show that even in the face of overriding terror and disbelief for many, there is always hope if you don’t shut out all of the possibilities. That means you read the stories but you don’t take them as truth until they are proved. You learn to do research. You check people’s Twitter profiles for who they are and and then question why they are saying what they do. You don’t shut out the BBC because they’re marxist, or Fox because they’re fascist, because there is the potential for BOTH to teach you something. You learn to adapt, your skin hardens, and you never forget how fucking lucky you are to have the Internet to begin with.

These are dark days for many people. However, if we all stick together and help each other, we will get through this, and it will be okay. 2016 will be remembered as a brilliant year, the time when all we did was celebrate the lives of good people who left us, and had fun with stupidity that was presented because we didn’t have a fascist madman or genuine threats to world peace to defeat. Nobody expected what happened, and maybe that’s our bigger lesson to learn. Now we’re all in this pit?

Time to start planning our escape.

The Sound of Silence

Occasionally, I’ll end up in a situation with the kids where I’m forced to make a difficult decision. Inevitably, this will boil down to their word against mine in any given scenario: you were asked to do X, why are we at Y? Once upon a time I’d attempt to assert a measure of authority to remind them that at some point, they will need to deal with contention, and how you react to that is often more important than the argument to begin with. However, you reach a point with a young person where it becomes obvious that forcing a point will only make a situation worse. In fact, you could end up causing more damage in the long term than would ever occur even if the issue is dealt with incorrectly. So, as a parent, you learn to step back. You keep thoughts to yourself. Then, with the benefit of distance, you can grasp what will be the best course of action moving forward.

Watching The Orange Twat settle into the White House has been at times terrifying and laughable, especially as it has become apparent he’s actively responding to Social media’s comments on his actions. Yesterday it became apparent that the full force of that ‘scrutiny’ is beginning to exert some influence:

It’s the equivalent of the entitled teen who can’t understand why, when he’s the best he can possibly be, that he’s not getting either the credit or the changes he demands because, honestly, that’s all that matters here, right? The self is all, because as President (obviously) you are the centre of your Universe. That works, right up to the point where it becomes apparent that maybe, just maybe, you’ve not been elected for your own reward. You do this not to become the leader of millions of people, or just to feel good about yourself and be cool at places and show off how great you are. It doesn’t work unless you start giving shit back, but more importantly nothing changes if you can’t become a useful part of the place you live in. Assuming the world revolves around you is beyond dangerous. Suddenly, everybody becomes a critic overnight. The more you shut down bad press, the more anonymous sources spring up to discredit… and then you realise the only way to shut people up for good… and nobody wants to even think about where that train of thought might end.

Sometimes, the best thing you’ll ever do is walk away and not have the fight.

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As you do, you hear the person whisper under their breath that you’re a fucking idiot, and have no idea what’s being discussed. How can you understand what’s wrong when you refuse to accept that your point of view is flawed? Isn’t it simply easier to pretend the argument never happened to begin with? Well, yes and no, because when you’re fairly confident that you do have a point and perhaps there is more going on in the World than just this one flashpoint… this is a really tough ask, most days. As a parent you know what growing up was like. You can’t get a child to grasp your view of it because, in most cases, it’s a world away from their own perception of reality. So, do you push it or do you walk away? Sometimes, your inability or reticence to engage can be enough to make your child think that perhaps there is something up. It’s not a given, though. However, after I’d seen Executive orders signed in the Oval Office with a posse of grim male bystanders and watched countless women on Social media hate the decisions made over their own reproductive rights by a bunch of guys… lo and behold, women started showing up in the background of shots. This doesn’t make pillaging native lands or shutting down environmental projects any less galling but HEY we got the memo about needing diversity in the room, so come on, cut us a fucking break already.

There’s a piece of video I can’t bring myself to post here from the Inauguration. It’s when The Orange Twat turns away from his beautiful, elegant First Lady wife and the smile she’s saved just for him vanishes in a heartbeat, like a lightbulb being switched off. It is the moment I realise that even being close to someone is no guarantee they will ever listen to sense or reason. It is the reinforcement of the understanding that in the patriarchy that is now running the USA, women don’t stand a fucking chance. This man’s Campaign manager might be female, but she’s never going to be given anything but a notion of control. There is no equality here. There is simply a desire to roll back any good that the previous Administration did, and stamp agendas to the country that further prove how wonderful the President is, and how much money he will make from being in office. This will not be the most successful Presidency in anything except financial gain. I cannot believe, having watched the last year play out, this man cares about anyone or anything except himself.

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I interact every day with people exactly like this. The world will never revolve around anyone except them. It is depressing beyond belief but inevitably it boils down to someone at some stage in their childhood not pointing out that life isn’t just about what you want. Yes, this matters and it is important, but never at the expense of understanding you are part of a whole, a planet full of people who often don’t have a voice, or are suppressed from even expressing an opinion. The bigger picture matters more, ultimately, than anything you might want or need when all is said and done. It is only a game, nobody makes you play it. You don’t need to be either rich or famous to be happy. Popularity is a game you would be best never to play to begin with. On the flip side of course, people I disagree with see me in exactly the same way. I’m the selfish one. I’m the person who doesn’t care about them.

It’s really easy to blame someone else for your failings, far harder to accept you’re less than perfect. I know my flaws, and I’m never going to be a perfect person. I have to work every day, long and hard, sometimes to even keep my head above water. This isn’t about winning, or who’s the best, and most certainly has nothing to do with belittling anyone else. The problem here is self-awareness. I know what’s wrong with me.

Can you say the same about yourself?

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I didn’t write anything yesterday. I was too busy. History will remember it as the day modern women pointed out that yes, cross us at your peril. It was the day where #alternativefacts from the White House made everybody, including the Press, realise that we are most definitely NOT in Kansas any more.

However, we got through it.

There’s far worse to come, of that I am certain. However, at least we now know what to expect.

This is no longer a game. We’re not here to be clever or be covered in glory. It is time to up your game, check your privilege at the door and get down into the fucking filth with everybody else. Your hero status is revoked. You cannot use the past as your CV. Only now, in the moment, will the true saviours of the Planet be forged. The press, who have been fucking shambolic up to this point, will now hopefully understand what they have to deal with. Your fantasies of a ‘West Wing’ style press room are over. The only way you win now is by standing up and being prepared to be shot. I wonder how many people will stick on the flak jackets and wade in.

For the satirists, of course, it’s Christmas and New year rolled into one.

However, when you read past the protest and indignation, there’s an awful lot to do.

Hundreds of thousands of people peacefully protest. There are four arrests (if I believe what I read.) Nobody wears riot gear. Nobody breaks a Starbucks windows. No Nazis are punched. In fact, across the world, millions of women who were personally incensed by the President’s opinions, angry that this man got to be in charge, offended they are considered as merely ‘property’… I assume that the collapse of the social order means all these women should have all stayed at home and done laundry or something. The responses on that tweet vary from right to left with an almost predictable regularity and I’m almost tempted to follow this Sheriff ‘person’ as I suspect it might be a useful counterpoint to what I’m seeing in the majority.

If you think yesterday was the collapse of the social order? That’s hardly the most auspicious of starts to a Presidency, is it?

The biggest single issue I see is truth. If you believe everything Government tells you without doing some basic searching? This is going to be a very blinkered 4 years. Fortunately people are already preparing for this eventuality. It is time to listen to everyone, not just the people you thought you trusted. It’s not just the US doing this either, it transpires my PM may have known more than she let on an abortive Trident launch before a vital Commons vote. The Orange Man is not simply our enemy. The fact Mrs May’s rushing to meet him and trying to make it look like she’s going to be strong for womenkind? Oh shut up Teresa, nobody believes you. All flies are attracted to shit, you can’t avoid it, it’s where your eggs are laid. This woman does not represent my interests anyway, but that’s a Blog Post for another day.

Right now, the satirists are your friends. These are the people who grasp more truth than you are ever likely to hear or see. It is their job to keep up to date with facts so they can destroy the lies and make you laugh as you cry. Listen to these people. Check the truth, at every possible opportunity.

These will be dark days ahead, but together we will overcome them all.