So, first blog post for a while – and I’m sorry, but it’s not about writing (though there will be an exciting progress report soon too!) But I think this post has been coming for a long time – since June last year, probably.
I have a lovely friend. Warm-hearted, generous, funny, a total character. She’s dealt with health problems that would fell a lesser mortal and carried on living her life at a hundred miles an hour. She’s smart, too, having overcome a lot of issues to get to where she is in her chosen profession.
And we were having lunch not long after the Brexit vote. I was still in shock at the result, but it was nothing to the shock I got when she said she hadn’t voted. She said she was surprised at the result, but didn’t feel she had enough information to decide. Though she was pretty sure it would all be all right anyway. And maybe there were a few too many immigrants arriving these days. She also didn’t think Trump would get in, but thought maybe it might be good for the US as she liked some of his ideas. And Hillary was just as bad, wasn’t she?
I went home feeling as though I’d been hit with a fairly large chunk of falling masonry. It’s not that I thought we had exactly similar views, but I’d assumed we were broadly in line. And a couple of hours had changed all that. I don’t think it’s changed our relationship, but it has made me think. About assumptions. About standing up. About speaking out.
Because I don’t think it’ll be all right. Not here in the UK, where we’re hurtling towards some kind of hideous little England Brexit (and those of us in Scotland are told just to suck it up despite voting against it) and not in the US, where the Orange one is dismantling decency piece by little piece. I don’t use comparisons with 1930s Germany lightly, but you only have to look at some of the recent headlines in the Daily Fail (‘Enemies of The People’, aka judges doing their job and interpreting the law) to see parallels everywhere you look. As I write, Trump is planning to publish lists of crimes carried out by Muslims and has stated in an interview that torture works. If news agencies report him accurately he accuses them of fake news.
This is not going to be all right. None of this is going to be all right for a very long time.
And I’m forced to think that staying silent is no longer an option. I’m sorry, my dear, dear friend, but not voting because you didn’t feel you had enough information isn’t a valid choice. The information was out there, and it is your responsiblity as an adult to look at it objectively and not be swayed by slogans or soundbites. That’s what being a citizen means. Allowing a monstrous narcissist to take power in the US because you had reservations about Hillary and abstained isn’t a valid choice, because you heard the bile coming out of his mouth and chose to disregard it.
And my choice wasn’t valid either, because I thought voting was enough. It wasn’t. I’m going to try to be more active, to challenge the kind of vileness that Trump and Farage spout. I will donate, I will try to march. I will see what else I can get involved in.
‘In order for evil to flourish..’ well, we all know how that goes, don’t we? Not sure how good I am, but I do know doing nothing is no longer an option for me.
How about you?