The other night, for the first time ever, I got muted on Twitter. Someone posted something that, I understood to be, suicidal. Nobody else had commented on it, so I dived in in my usual, as it turns out on this occasion, over familiar and unwelcome way.
‘This is not a joke. You are now muted.’ They said.
Help is only help when it’s perceived as such.
Still bloody hurt…I was only trying to…
A couple of days ago, Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, sent this letter
to Muslim leaders, following the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Although it’s tone appeared consiliatory, to me, it had flavours of, ‘I know you’re trying, but you’re going to have to work harder,’
It said, I’m not blaming you and your community for these acts of terrorism – but you’ve got to do SOMETHING!!!
We talk of young Muslims being radicalised as they go off to fight in Syria – but what of the young men who hear the call of our armed forces – beautifully produced TV adverts telling them how they’ll become REAL MEN if and when they sign up…?
…travel the world…meet new, different and exotic people…and kill them…is roughly how the old 1980’s parody went.
We are part of a complex web of foreign policies that involve anything from military occupation, and drone bombings of sovereign countries, to punitive economic sanctions if they don’t dance to our tune.
Our media feeds us a steady trickle of Islamist terror – Rupert Murdoch, the head of many a media outlet, stated on Twitter –
‘Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.’
and these beliefs are reflected on the TV and in newspapers around the world.
Are the people who have been killed in Paris more important to the world than any of us?
Any untimely death is tragic – and to die in such a way is truly horrific.
But more important than others who’ve died in the UK?
What about the 6000 people who’ve died in police custody since 2000 – 2814 of whom had mental health problems
What about the the 6000 people who take their own lives in the UK every year – an increase of 1000 since austerity measures began?
Or the 82 people who’ve taken their own lives in prison this year – the highest rate for 7 years according to the Howard League for Penal reform – a figure they attribute to the cuts in prison staff?
Or the 60 people who’ve died over the past 3 years because of cuts in their disability benefits?
I could go on.
I could say the time for talking is over. But that isn’t true. The time for talking is NOW. It has always been now.
It’s not just THEIR responsibility. The one thing in life that you are completely in charge of is YOU.
If Eric Pickles had said something along the lines of, ‘I think it would be great if you’d do ‘x’ to improve the situation. I’ve got to say we’re not without blame, so I’m going to improve things by doing ‘y’ ‘ then there would be more of a feeling that we’re all in this together.
However, we homosapiens like to group ourselves – by class, by gender, by profession, by ability, by nationality, by race, by colour, by religion by bloody anything – eye colour – anything.
Why? Well, us humans are hard wired to protect ourselves – thousands of years ago if we met folk from another tribe, there was always the chance they’d kill you because of limited resources or some such. There isn’t much scope for learning there – if you make a mistake and someone kills you, you won’t be doing that again…
So, we’ve got a reason – not an excuse.
Hatred is easy. Telling the folk you know and love how fucking awful members of the other lot are is simple – you’re showing your friends how similar you are to them and how different you are from THE OTHERS.
So what are you going to do to break the mould?
Recognising that we’re not just bald monkeys would be a start.
Back on Twitter, I have to accept that writing
‘hey, whoa, hold on there, wait a cotton pickin’ moment – have you considered the mild curiosity as to what the fuckwits do next?’
in response to a suicidally themed tweet, might not have been my finest moment – but being muted has made further discussion, er, tricky.
I’ve used other, side door/ back door methods to get my message to the Twitter person – but to no avail so far.
The good thing is – life isn’t like Twitter – people can’t be muted quite so simply – although I appreciate we find a zillion other ways to mute ourselves and others…
Our leaders, our media – sorry, a large proportion of both – are making a complete arse of bringing people together in a respectful way – they are so dazzlingly shite at it that one might suspect that something else is afoot.
WE need to do something. We can take more control.
I’ll tell you what I’m going to do –
1) Continue talking to people I don’t know about anything and everything.
2) Bring together some folk from seemingly disparate parts of our world – starting off their conversations with the simple question ‘What’s it like to be you?’
Walk a mile rebooted is beginning to take shape in my head…there’s always the danger that nobody turns up…
‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’ Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)
So let’s see.
Walk a mile