Even pictures of baskets of kittens and a huge Chinese takeaway aren’t really working for me today. Please excuse the incoherence of the rest of this post. I need to brain dump.
There’s been a lot of talk of class and poverty both here in the UK and the USA. A lot of people talking about the disenfranchised poor, and how we other voters must understand their anger and address it rather than pretending it isn’t there. I get that, but I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about what it means. It seems, in some camps to mean that we have to turn the other cheek when people are rude, or ignorant or stupid or abusive and if we don’t we ourselves are vilified as rude, ignorant stupid or abusive. That’s not what it means.
Firstly let’s dispel a myth. Exit polls show that the voters for Trump were not ‘the poor’. The poor largely voted for Hillary. So Donald is being held up as the saviour of the poor and disenfranchised by the same rich guys as ever. They’re only wearing different hats. Just look at who he’s swearing in to help him. If you thought things were going to be radically different in a good way, I pity you. If you don’t think things are about to get fucking scary for everyone, I pity you.
In the UK in the last few days I have been seeing a variation of; ‘I have no voice because nobody listens to the working man,’ being trotted out like a badge of entitlement. It usually comes as a prelude to something offensive that a person feels entitled to say because they are taking back their power or representing the will of the people. This is code for shouting at people with the caps lock on.
It reminds me of a child I once taught who refused to even try to learn to read because ‘I’m dyslexic miss. There’s no point.’ A problem is not a badge you can flash to get out of learning, even if it really is a problem. It doesn’t mean you get to sit back and invoke mob rule because you can’t be arsed to build when it’s easier to smash things down, or because it’s harder for you to learn stuff. The idea that we must not thwart people because they might get upset because their circumstances were hard or different is shit. It’s perpetuated largely by people who a) have no interest in things changing and b) no will to do things differently but just fancy having a pop at everyone and stirring up trouble because they can. And it’s massively insulting to many people who work bloody hard and do amazing things in our communities despite incredible odds.
I have a great deal of sympathy for the disenfranchised. I have felt disenfranchised nearly all my life.
I do not, however, accept that this gives me a reason to tear up the world in order to make a point that could be made better in other, more positive ways. It does not give me a stick to beat everyone over the head with because I cannot get my way. It does not give me a pass to behave any way I feel like just because I see those in power doing it and want to give them a dose of their own medicine. Because the thing is and history bears me out here, it is never the people at the top who pay in the end.
We do not help ourselves or others by indulging our worst, most childish traits and sitting back waiting for others to fix what we have helped to break. We do not get to opt out if we feel our lives are tough. Most people’s lives are tough. It’s how you deal with it that make the difference.
We help ourselves by learning how to do things differently. It angers me immensely that it is ‘cool’ to demonise education these days. That people who work hard, who study hard, who think things through, who work stuff out, are being cast as the new stupid. And what happens when you have broken everything, and all the smart people who could have helped you, who could have helped you to help yourself, are gone?
I get that people are angry. I am fucking furious. I get that people want to vent. I do it. What I don’t get is the fact that people do this and only this. This is not helping. This endless well of anger from people that just lash out continually at people who are ‘other’, at people who look different, sound different, grew up differently, had a different education. If it isn’t colour, religion or sex it’s class or money. There’s always some reason why you can’t stick your hand out and help someone else or do something different, and it’s never because you’re frightened, or lazy or you don’t know how to do it, although that’s usually the truth of it all, at bottom.
Guess what? We’re all frightened, and we’d all love to stay at home in the warm shouting at the telly. Guess what, we don’t all know how to do it, but at least some of us are willing to learn and try, and that shouldn’t be a problem or an insult. Someone called me a ‘do-gooder’ the other day, as an insult. FFS. I’ll take it any day of the week. Far better than a ‘do nothing.’
Be angry. It can be really good to be angry. Don’t turn the other cheek. Don’t be meek and quiet. BUT and it’s a huge BUT, don’t blame everyone else for what you could fix yourself. Don’t complain if you don’t like what’s happening to the world but at the same time you want to continue sitting in your cosy house with the same income you’ve always had and you don’t want to share, or risk what you have for the chance of something better, or get up and go out into the cold and roll your sleeves up and be the change you want to see.
People will say this post is hypocritical because here I am moaning about things and saying we shouldn’t vilify people when I’m criticising other people for not doing it right. There will be commenters who inevitably call me a ‘typical remoaner’ trying to thwart the ‘will of the people’. The same tired old crap that comes out every time. I accept the fact that if I stick my head above the parapet, someone will try to knock it off. I don’t care.
I accept that we are all different. I accept that some people think that leaving the EU is great and some don’t. I accept that some people love Trump although I don’t understand it. I accept that some love Hillary. What I don’t accept is ill informed bile that is supposed to pass for debate. What I don’t accept is people who are not willing to learn or put their money where their mouth is. What I do not accept is people trying to shout me down who have no real interest in the good of this country or any other and every interest in what’s good for themselves.
I am the people too. Get over it. And my will is that I want a better world and I will make one. And if people want to call me names to make themselves feel better while I get on with stuff, then it’s their own breath they’re wasting.
I will keep saying this. Stop looking for what divides us. Stop allowing those in power to fuel the narrative of hatred and distrust, whether it be because of race or gender or wealth or class. Look for what unites us and work to make it stronger. Stop using your ignorance as a weapon. Get educated, get smart, get moving. Get on with it.