(Silent Sigh - Badly Drawn Boy)
I mentioned in my recent Wonderful Wednesday post about struggling to write about bigger issues that are going on in the world, and the fear that comes with entering into public debate about these things. As if to prove my point, even the comments on the post gave differing views on whether to venture into the more serious realm. I'm still uncomfortable with it, but I'm also uncomfortable with not writing something, it seems such a big part of the public consciousness, and consequently, such a big part of my thoughts at the moment that it felt dishonest to keep skipping over the topic when I'm writing here on a more regular basis at the moment.
I guess this is likely to end up as an outpouring of thoughts, rather than anything concrete, so bear with me if you will. I've found the news of what has been happening in America hard to read, as it feels to me, like the start of a major shift in the international political arena, and as such, like the start of increasingly volatile times. That doesn't sit easily with me, I've always found that when there are major international incidents I have to step back a little at first, to stop myself becoming consumed by fear, and constant ponderings of what ifs, and what nexts.
It has been hard to escape in recent weeks, the news, the radio, and blogs too. My gut instinct was, and still is, that many of the decisions that are being made go against what I believe in, what a great many people believe in, and I can understand the outcry and the condemnation. But, I also feel that there are grey areas, things that have mulled around my head since listening to debates on the radio, and that The Husband and I have discussed over dinner, when I was desperate to talk it through with another adult, seeking that shared viewpoint and comfort in voicing thoughts out loud.
There is part of me that thinks that the actions being undertaken were part of the campaign rhetoric, and whilst it is not guaranteed these days that the promises of a campaign will come to fruition when a person takes power, none of these things are a shock, however shocking they might be. They are things that were expected from the speeches, and the headlines, however extreme they were. Which flows backwards to the fact that there was a democratic process and an election success based on that campaign, and those promises. I have an internal struggle with having a respect for the democratic process, yet also seeing the results of that process and them being so at odds with what I would choose. The discussions with The Husband also included the fact that the acting attorney general had been fired, and this was something we had both been troubled by. It felt particularly Orwellian, to immediately remove anyone who presented a challenge, even if it was on the grounds of legality. That, alongside the discussions about alternative facts, make the surge in the sales of 1984 particularly understandable. There is much mention of often-cited examples of those who were democratically elected and then committed horrendous acts once in power, and they are clearly a warning that should be heeded from history that democracy is not infallible and shouldn't be accepted blindly.
The marches have been a clear sign of the depth of feeling, on an international scale. I don't hold with the idea that it is not the right of those outside of the country to protest, though I heard many people asking what impact it could have. What I did find challenging, though, is that there are other places that have bans on immigration from specific countries, and there is not the same level of outcry, perhaps not even the same level of awareness of this. It draws parallels with the disproportionate media responses to atrocities and tragedies that affect the Western world, and that is something that has been a source of much reflection personally. Why is it so much more shocking in this situation, why does it provoke such a heightened, widespread reaction? Is it because we have different expectations of western countries, or because it is closer to home? I don't know the answers, it just made me stop to consider the differing responses, and wonder what it signifies.
As twee as it sounds, my own response is one of hope. One of trying to be positive, of not giving in to fear, and stories like this cheer me immensely. I wrote about it here, and more briefly here and here. It is easy, though, to allow a hopeful, positive response to slide slowly into apathy, and I still feel so small, and insignificant in the scheme of things that it feels incomprehensible that there is a difference I could make. I suppose writing something here, even if it isn't particularly revolutionary or rallying, is a way of being active rather than passive. There are good examples of more practical responses, and a trio of Michelle's have blogged about it from varying viewpoints. Michelle really summed up for me that sense of there being so much to challenge it is hard to know where to start, (and on a personal level, having read her blog for many years, it was wonderful to see her writing again after a long hiatus, albeit for less than wonderful reasons). Michelle speaks in a way I wish I was brave enough, and eloquent enough to, and gives practical advice from a UK perspective. And Michelle says what I am thinking with much more clarity than I can muster.
I know I shall worry when I post this, I know it feels like a huge thing and an inconsequential one simultaneously, but I also feel like I wanted to say something, not to look back and feel that I stayed entirely silent. So, for now, this is my contribution, my tiny attempt to face off the negativity with some words of positivity, and to add another hopeful voice to the many.