Belonging, certainty, Climate Change, Cocaine, Collective Action, Decency, faith, Frodo, Grenfell Tower, Hubris, Humanity, Humility, Industrial lager, Instagram, Kardashian, London Bridge, Manchester, Mortgages, Paris, Personal Debt, Politicians, smart phones, Social Responsibility, Together, Tolkien
One could wonder sometimes where the nobility and civilisation went – given half an eye on our glorious species (though many question whether it was ever there).
Far from the heroic ideal of small people saving the world – of Tolkien’s Hobbiton and Frodo’s sacrifice – we’re all a little disappointing down the small people end of the telescope.
We’re all lascivious, low and feral and we’re all off to whichever hell is trending currently.
Left to our own devices all we do is sprawl, brawl, rut, piss, shit, heave and fuck like the beasties we are, on the streets, station concourses, on buses, on planes, alleys: in doorways and up against walls, wrapped up in cheap-as-chips slave wear bought in multipacks of 5. Nascent young Motherhood lies collapsed like a sack of charity shop clothing on a pavement, steeped in their own sick. Nascent young fatherhood stamps on heads till they pop on an empty shopping precinct floor, sweating industrial lager and cheap cocaine.
We use £500 state of the art smart phones to film everything from our genitals and instagrammed inanities to humiliations, threats, gang rapes, beatings and murder.
We use state of the art, government-toppling social networks to circulate a ‘shag on a plane’ film to anyone bored enough to care or the next cat film to those who don’t.
We live lives way beyond our means. We inhabit houses and drive cars we can’t afford. We bullshit ourselves into believing that the debt we carry is a right of entitlement – part of the glory of being human, here and alive.
We convince ourselves that communities don’t really need our help, there is no society other than our own; that ‘doing a Kardashian’ is desirable, that knife crime and landfill will miraculously resolve themselves, that climate is an inconvenience, and of course, the real biggie, that we need 5 holidays per annum. Which is why we need 5 credit cards.
Bu But BUT
Look at us when the sky comes down and the thunder rolls. Look at us as we respond to the percussive blows and crises that envelop us.
Look at how we have responded. In Manchester. In London. And now to the Grenfell tower disaster. And not just to our own. Paris. Another coming together. Another standing side by side. Across generations, cultures, tribes, classes, regions, borders.
Suddenly, it is as if we see each other again. Beyond gender, race, religion or persuasion.
See each other and remember – we are just people amongst people like us. We remember who we are, what we are capable of. What our co-existence demands of us all. And rise to it.
And we remember that deserving is not about cars and phones and watches and holidays. It’s about people deserving a sense of belonging, to not be left behind or marginalised: a decent quality of life, affordable and accessible care, social support. And that as people we deserve politicians and the public and private sector to be responsible to us not the spreadsheet or the Poll – responsible for our social well being, not our financial success.
We remember that life is OK. And could be far, far worse.
And that there by whichever god, mantra, metric or quantum equation go us.
We realise that the precious things are the living breathing things connected to us by genes, community, friendship, accident or serendipity. And everything else is just tat and jewellery. And party small talk.
We realise that the most precious things are the living things like us. And that we should wish for them what we wish for ourselves. A safe, secure and supported life, everyone looking out for each other. A sense of belonging the right of every human being.
Suddenly we see that people are looking to each other. Helping others. Keeping an eye out.
Perhaps, for just a moment, we prove yet again that when push comes to shove we can rise up out of the self-obsessed pit we all live in.
For a moment we remember that, in the middle of all of this uncertainty, the only thing we can be certain of is ourselves – our actions, our beliefs and our values. What we give a shit about and what we’ll do and what we’ll put on the line to hold up those values and beliefs. When collective humanity and humility transcend individual identity and hubris.
Perhaps it does take the madness for us to remember what we seemed once far more certain of – our best selves both individually and collectively – and when to apply them in the world we live in.
Here’s to that.