In the wake of this past weekend, I’d already started writing this post when I read this post by Mel over at Inkblot Kingdoms. Her writing is beautiful, and tender, and personal, with less sharp edges than mine.
The past few days, I’ve been lying low. Appalled by the outcome of the British referendum, and for those who did not choose that; and equally appalled by the fear and hate mongering that has gathered so much momentum throughout the world.
We have our own election here this Saturday – and I suspect there will be a return to more of the same right-wing bastardry. Although the major parties here are as bad as one another. We have a compulsory vote in this country, and therefore Australia truly gets the government it deserves. A statement I consider quite damning when I look at our human rights record, (we stick our refugees in camps where they languish for years under the most horrific conditions); and our environmental destruction, (Great Barrier Reef – just google that one). And there’s our gutting of health and education. Our loony-toon, flat-earthist politicians, who are laughing-stocks amongst the laughing-stocks, (lookin’ at you, UN).
I notice how so many of us on the interwebs hold ourselves so carefully. Minding our words, and our tongues, we focus on loving kindness amidst all the hatred, and outright ignorance. Kindness, love – these are crucial, oui? So crucial.
But that doesn’t mean passivity. There is also fierce love. We can’t conflate passion, a natural anger, and fierce caring with all that hatred and bigotry. There’s a danger of becoming voiceless in its wake. De-clawed, in order to satisfy that particularly genteel tyranny that the rainbow unicorns demand. Because to many now, there doesn’t seem to be any difference between hatred and anger, between fear and fierceness.
Yet if we look at the past, (it’s easier to see things more clearly from a distance, hey?), if we look at history, the patterns are there, and they’re being repeated. And they are disturbing. Complacency, fear, denial, insular thinking. These breed conditions for darkness.
Amongst the peace-love-and-rainbows crowd, the driving force can seem as fearful and denying, as it is loving. The fear of being “unloving”, seems to mean that there’s not a lot of speaking out.
It can be so tempting, and so easy to hide away, (it is for me, anyway) in our carefully woven strongholds of beauty and safety. But it can be potentially paralysing too. It keeps us where the fear-mongers want us to remain. In denial, disconnected, and cocooned within a dangerous bubble of our own making. We can start to believe that it’s all far from here. And how I would love it to be. But of course, that’s simply not the world now. We are all interconnected.
At Rapunzel’s, our lives, our work, our everyday conversations, are quite politically focused (my 14 year old daughter does not need to google “what is the EU?”. Ffs). It’s a big part of who I am, even though I express that in other environments, rather than online. I don’t often write about any of that here. Because, gardens and roses.
And for me, fiction often feels like a safer place to write about dangerous ideas; as well as personal things, which can also feel dangerous. Unless you disguise them as something else.
Anyway, the Bloke and I sat together over the weekend, and talked about just how nutty things are. The exploitation of fear, of old class wounds, (oh, they jump on that one, and then sit back and watch whilst the poor only get poorer).
The world has gone mad. Let’s face it. It’s time to stick my head up above the parapet, rather than stay safe scattering rainbows and planting roses. We need rainbows, (and I’ve sure needed roses). Rainbows and roses are one version of love, a gentle, fey version. But they’re not the only one. We need fierce love too. We need the Light Warriors who perform their own unique magic, scattering light where there is darkness. Energising and healing. We need the healers more than ever. And we need fierce Creators – artists and activists.
The rest of us need our voices, not whispering or wavering, and not apologetic, with that particularly feminine fear of “offending”. And too often, we wait until there’s a critical mass, a comfortable majority, before it’s deemed safe for us to hitch a ride on the same wave, and express an opinion. The same opinion, couched in the language of the zeitgist.
Why does it feel so dangerous to speak up? Why do we risk such harsh judgements about who we are, our intentions, and what’s in our hearts? Why are passionate, yet loving opinions so often accompanied by fervent apologies for being so? As though they are a terrible interruption to our normal anaesthetised programming?*
Probably because we fear exclusion and rejection now more than ever. Because the world feels like a colder, more fearful place than ever. Also, because trolls abound and are repulsive to encounter, (although they are ultimately sad, ineffectual things and should never dictate the terms of our presence). And in this climate, conformity can be a refuge. But it is a costly one, perhaps.
Because in the mean time, the voices of hate have hijacked this gig. We cringe at their overweening confidence, when they have little, if any, rational basis upon which to support their assertions. Those of us versed in history likewise cringe and rail against it all when we see these histories being repeated, but what do we do?
What do I do?
Do we allow those voices to decide things? Because we choose to be civilised and polite? Because like me, we just want to go and plant some roses, and play with herbs, and write novels, and love our loved ones, because that’s the best way we know how to love? Because we desperately don’t want to add to the fear and the hatred? Because it’s all we’ve got, and our hands are empty?
Perhaps though, we underestimate the power that we hold, and our intentions. Our voices, our votes, and also our power as consumers.
What are our responsibilities? What are my responsibilities? I know I’m not responsible for the feelings of others, (even though I have often put them first), and that my opinions should not carry a trigger warning or an apology. I also know that my most important responsibility is to my child, to her generation, and generations coming after that. They are the ones who have to live with the decisions I make now. So I have to carry the weight of all that I don’t say and do, with that in mind, as well.
What I will keep saying, and despite everything, what I will continue to believe is this: there’s more that unites us than divides us. We can’t afford to scurry down our hobbit holes, or build fortresses to keep others out at this point. There’s simply too much at stake.
I’m off to plant some roses. And on Saturday, I will make my tiny vote count as best I can. And I will send love, and light, and roses. I’m just not rainbow-y enough to send out rainbows. They’d come out all wrong, and look more like lightning bolts – sharp and fiery, and arriving in a storm. I’ll leave the rainbows to the gentle rain-makers. And I’ll thank them for their work. I have my own work to do.
And I’ll not remain silent.
Love and warm wishes to you. xx
* As though the Insta aesthetic we are presented with, the magazine, airbrushed hyperreal, is life and reality, rather than merely a prettier facsimile of it.