The world is changing and we are exposed more and more to the suffering that takes place in different parts of the world. It is no longer a matter of out of sight out of mind. The range of heart breaking circumstances from child exploitation to deaths of migrants at sea, can often leave me reeling and in fact powerless. That as a mum of two, writer and citizen I feel there is little I can do except for when charity campaigns as for as little as £3 to contribute to the rising need of suffering people. And I will be honest, once I have done it I forget about it, happy that my tiny bit has done something and I pat myself on the back.
I find it becomes particularly acute in the winter time, those who are homeless, in camps are further exposed to the harsh forces of nature, the elderly and families who have to choose between eating or heating their homes, shows the disparity that lies at the heart of our society, in our country and internationally.
Then there was Grenfell Tower. I watched along with the rest of the nation as the tower burned, listened to the cries of shock of the people witnessing it first hand, and it hit my heart like a kick to the face. I realised I had been sleep walking. Aware of the cruel hypocrisy but not doing anything or even reacting to it. I came face to face with my own passivity of allowing things to continue even though really I knew it could be better. Now I am in my nice 1930’s semi-detached house, with my nice nuclear family, with degree in English and Creative Writing and I exist in a safe bubble in Hastings.
I grew up in a block of flats as well, not as high as Grenfell but I lived council estates till I was 18. I am well aware of the negativity and half-truths that are perpetuated as the full truth. Not that some of it were not based on reality and real experiences, but it never shows the full vibrant life of people who occupy these buildings.
I was growing up, hyper aware of the low expectations that society had of people and children who lived their whole lives in these places. I watched with disgust the fumbling of the government and its immediate response to the people who lived there and escaped with their lives. I along with many wondered, if that fire had taken place in one of the exclusive complex of flats with wealthy residents would it have taken them so long to address their needs? In fact, I wondered with the level of safety that had been implemented in their building had been the same for Grenfell would it have happened at all? But that’s all I did. I wondered, my thoughts did not translate into any thing tangible and to my shame, I have continued on. Knowing full well, there are people who still suffering and the level of care they are receiving is below human compassion.
In stead I was moved with the community at large, the generosity, the selflessness the willingness to open their arms, I watched as people even as far as Cornwall, are helping people to continue on with dignity and kindness. There is, a glimpse of hope.
But once again, I feel like a sledgehammer has hit me this week as my instagram and facebook accounts are flooded with images of Black people being sold in Libya. I felt sick and fear tightly intertwined as a kept scrolling through them. Then came confusion, why I cant find any news stations talking about this situation? I am not one for taking my news from facebook and as I tried to fact check and research this deplorable reality I found that I need some help to understand what it truly taking place and what can be done to stop it.
These last two years, with Brexit, Trump being president, the rise of Black Lives Matter and feminism, the botched election of Theresa May, the continuing deaths of migrants at sea, the war in Syria and the refugees in camps, Grenfell Tower, Libya and now the British Government voting that animals are not sentient is making me more than angry, its making me what to do something. I have determined my first step, to pay closer attention to what my Government is doing and how this affects our society at large.
I can boldly say that what they have done with Universal Credit and the conditions of austerity measures has had a crippling effect on the quality of life that the Government should as least be trying to improve; and no I am not talking about a nanny state.
I believe that Politics has been sensationalized and the wave of “fake news” makes it even harder to determine fact from fiction. It has been an effect that makes me go “some one else will do something about” because the task to be a critical voice in this world is insurmountable. But it’s not time to pull down the shutters and barricade myself in my little bubble. In fact, my own family history dictates otherwise. I am from Angola and my family’s story is wrapped up in the Civil War. Obviously, the conditions are completely different, but speaking to my mother, she said to speak up too loudly would cost your life. Here in England, I am under no such threat. So my passivity has no excuse. How I join the fight and help to bring change is still be seen. But it believe we are at time when we must face up to the harsh reality and hypocrisy that has dire consequences.
So if anyone has any great books, youtube channels, websites and information that would help me to begin this journey into the crazy world of Politics and Protest, it would be much appreciated.