We’re doomed! Well, it seems like it! I’m sitting in bed listening to the pouring rain as the results roll in across America and it looks like they’ve voted from the King of the fools, Donald Trump. It’s hardly surprising, as it was hardly surprising when the Tories got voted in in the uk and then so many British people voted to pull the plug on the eu. The world is a mess, the thing is, it always has been. The only real difference is that at some points the English speaking media focused on the messy things and at other points it didn’t. Countless films have been made about the Second World War and the righteous fight against the Nazis and you can see stuff about the holocaust on the history channel every single day but no one seems to know or care about how King Leopold of Belgium was responsible for the extermination of three times as many people in the Congo. No one cares the Winston Churchill was a major player in the creation of the first concentration camps in South Africa or that as everyone in the west celebrated the end of World War Two the horrors and persecution was only getting started in the Soviet Union.
Things have always been awful if you actually choose to see it. There is a phenomenon called compassion fatigue, where people see so many awful things that they become desensitised to the horror and just don’t see it any more, people don’t know what to do or what they do do makes no difference. The big mistake is when people go out and protest with their banners and placards and actually think that a government capable of doing whatever they did to cause their ire is actually going to change what they do because people don’t like it.
There has never been a time in human history where the poor and vulnerable didn’t suffer, where small groups weren’t marginalised by larger ones. The only difference was whether the awfulness was happening over here or over there or more accurately whether it was happening to someone else or to you.
There is a poem written by Martin Niemöller about how when another group of people are persecuted and what happens when people do nothing to stop it, in my country the government has been coming for me, as did the one before and the one before that. Having mental health problems I am the perfect target, we aren’t sexy, we aren’t visibly different and we limp along in relative obscurity until one of our wobbles provoke the annoyance of the norms (or more accurately those that just know how to fit in better) and then it’s open season. Successive governments have paired us down to nothing, knowing how little anyone else care about us. I’ve spoken about it for years and all that has happened is that people just switched off, you don’t get a warm glow from helping me like you do someone on the street or a refugee. The thing is though, those people on the streets are me, a stage down the line, the refugees are me from another country. It seems that we have to sink through the floor for someone to actually bother, no one wants to just catch you when you wobble, you have to fall, spectacularly and from a great height.
I utterly piss myself laughing every time I hear what the local solidarity group are doing, the banner waving, the marches, the outrage at things I was pointing out a decade previously, things that could have been stopped then. I laugh as they hold countless meetings, squabbling about which way to go, what cause to champion this month, what splinter group is going to do what tenuously connected things, puffing themselves up through their own pride at being seen to do good with the ‘right’ sort of people. It’s a hollow laugh though, and an angry one as I remember all the times I pointed this out to them and the tumbleweed rolled by, when it wasn’t cool, when it wasn’t trendy, when it couldn’t be turned into a bit of socialising and possibly some networking too.
And my solution? Oh! I’m sorry, you’ve missed the point here, you’re fucked, didn’t you work that out? We are all fucked. Maybe if you’d bothered ten years ago, twenty would have been better. I’ll see you in the gutter, I’ll even save you a space if you like.