This is not a poem but I’ve been having some thoughts recently and I needed somewhere to put them.
In a fairly recent episode of ‘Frankie Boyle’s New World Order’, whilst discussing Grenfeld, Benjamin Zephaniah articulated concisely and very beautifully our culture’s…how do I put this…fucked up approach to how we see and experience democracy. As a concept, our collective definition of the term ‘democracy’ usually adhere’s to a sense that we, the people, have a direct involvement in our county’s or local government. I use the word ‘sense’ intenationally as it relates to the realm of feelings, with which I say the ‘democratic feeling’ is something we’ve been spoon fed via the fog of social and traditional media, or the alpha waves of BBC News at Ten. Through these outlets we learn only that our involvement in how we relate to and attempt to alter the bigger picture is by paying close attention to the cynicism of the news and voting once every few years (or, in our current climate, on a yearly basis). As our pal Zephaniah said, when comparing this to our potential capacity (I added that part), this is simply apathy, whereas true democracy is experienced through a more anarchistic weltanschauung, and I’m not just writing this for the sole purpose of using that word…but it is a fabulous word.
Anarchy, on a large scale, is certainly not portrayed this way. Perhaps it’s beginning to be but nevertheless, anarchy is still prodominantly placed in the field of either unsighted aggression or political indifference. This, at least from my experience, couldn’t be further from the truth. Anarchy relates to community, though with each individual having a role to play. There are successful and even utopic examples of this in relation to government, Marinaleda being one of them. However, in this current state of uncertainty and visceral sense of impending doom, I think right now, it’s more valuable to apply the anarchistic model and mentality to cultural and political activism – everybody contributing, imparting their own skills, knowledge and wisdom.
So where do we go from here?
I’d say – find a cause you’re passionate about and sing about it. Find your community. Passion, how I’ve experienced and interpreted it, comes most to light through our own pain; it is also how we can begin rooting ourselves in a community with those who have had a shared experience of it – we can connect through pain and through oppression. The LGBTQ community is a good example of this; using the pain and intolerance inflicted upon them to a compassionate end, uniting and advocating the pursuit of knowledge and introspection. Let this be a guide for how we:
1. Continue to wilt the era of ignorance, oppression and unsustainability.
2. Allow ourselves to be vulnerable, as it’s through the honesty of our hurt we meet our tribes, our community. We can choose whether we use our past to bitter ourselves or better ourselves, essentially.
Activism, I understand, is a pretty ambiguous term. I think when most people come across it, very physical involvement comes to mind, like protest marches. This undoubtedly has been and continues to be effective in uniting people and setting a spirited tone, but it doesn’t have to necessarily stop or start there. Physical action might feel the most effective because it feels the most real but other mediums are also valid. The internet is, without question, an incredible tool when we’re not using it to distract ourselves with meaningless tripe. It has democratised information, repositioned the ownership of media (or is at least in the Renaissance phase of this process) and allowed a platform for each and everyone’s perspective (including mine…right now), therefore allowing people to find their communities online. Simply having a conversation can be activism, one of which you share your earnest opinion, whilst also maintaining an open-mind for new, possible contradictory information, because in that way you’re both learning. Art and music are wonderful approaches to activism, I can give you an endless account of how many artists have influenced societal values, so I’m not going to. In my opinion, simply spreading good vibes is activism. Even fucking smiling at a stranger is acting as a reminder that they’re a person and you’re a person – perhaps leading into a train of thought that you both matter, lets set aside our differences and let’s all live together in harmony…maybe…it’s worth a shot, anyway. Relating back to anarchy, we all have individual talents and strengths we can wear as our role for improving society, even if your only worthy talent is smiling.
The premise of what I’m trying to say here is that when we introspect, when we’re honest with ourselves and honest with others about our societal views and own vulnerabilities, we are participating in a cause – this is activism. The more time invested in activism, fantastic, but there’s no need to feel intimidated, everything counts. Arthur Schopenhauer once said ‘All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.’ Thereby this rationale, even if the reaction you ignite is one of anger, that is still in the way of progression – engagement over indifference every time, baby.
Thanks for reading, love Natasha x