Woods and trees

We are, each, the embodiment of the human condition. Peoples to a person, unique and the same, our imperatives and characteristics overlapping and bumping into each other, relative and subject to a million and one contexts. We hardly know ourselves, even as we presume to categorise others and seek to negate or reshape them to fit our fleeting comfort.

We cherry-pick ‘n mix micro and macro for argument’s sake and we treat them as isolated systems when it comes to, well, systems. We confuse and conflate effects and correlations, assigning their causes according to tribal instincts, narrow, prescriptive framing and emotional whim. And yet how easily we forget that one thing leads to another. And not just the things we chose to pay attention to.

How we fuss. We scrutinise the heart out of each other, fixing on binary reductions of acceptability or threat. We sacrifice nuance and complexity to distortion and banality. We muddle and manipulate moral equivalence and use whataboutery as the first line of defence and conflate the superficial or irrelevant with the most profound. We take simple things and turn them into complex nightmares and get indignant or complacent when extra care and attention is an obvious requirement. We tie ourselves in neurotic knots and project, as though anything and everything might bring the human world to its knees at any moment and then we saunter, blithely on, as though we were either helpless or invincible.

We’re still fighting for universal respect for and application of human rights; still protesting for socio-economic justice and basic civil equalities. We’re still ascribing sub-human status, according to paranoia and political fancy; still elevating dross to celebrity; still coveting what we think exists over our neighbour’s fence. We’re still monopolising and squandering the resources of our one, beautiful planet; still arguing about whose God is greatest… And over and over we produce ego-riven conflicts and make wars in the name of Peace. We are already on our knees.

We think we see things as they really are but, really, we’re only seeing things as we are, whether we are aware of little more than events and selected details or transfixed by the enormity of the bigger picture. We don’t know when to speak up and when to mind our own business. We don’t recognise what we should and need to control or what we are allowing to have control over us. We don’t discriminate appropriately or effectively; we can’t discern wish from truth nor potential from reality. Some of us think it simpler to just try to control everything and everyone while others simply don’t care and others still haven’t even noticed.

And how we faff. We constantly tinker around the edges of problems, addressing the latest symptoms and ignoring their quite evident causes. This doesn’t just allow old symptoms to fester and their causes to become downgraded, over time, to ‘unfortunate’ but it also adds a whole other level of new causes. We seem hell-bent on rose-tinted nostalgia but we refuse to actively retrace our steps. We would rather pretend that we are merely adapting to forces beyond our control than reaping the consequences of so much that should have been avoided.

We don’t really look at the roots and common threads of our problems; not deeply; not wholly. We glimpse with darting, panicked eyes, wring our hands and do what we can with the skim. Just getting through the day. Lurching with our fingers crossed. But the skim has to go somewhere: it becomes another blanket burden to Society, to add to the already suffocating layers and it creates further opportunities for ideological and financial exploitation. Every burden provides another’s comfort blanket. It isn’t ethical or sustainable.

We live under a constant process of inadequate triage. Tinkering and skimming are default management settings. Like bailing out a distressed boat that was never really seaworthy. There is viable land and most of us have spotted it but the crew prefer that we keep bailing, even as the holes increase and the weather worsens. The crew is drunk on the short-term, shortsighted power of profitable crises. The officers and their minions tell us that that land over there is hostile and to bail faster, lest we run aground the only boat available for that long-promised rising tide to lift.

Between us, we have managed to undermine the subtle and make a virtue out of the dross. We’ve managed to fragment history and turn it into a blueprint for all manner of psychopathic algorithms and effectively reduced Imagination, Reason and Empathy to a small, closed circuit.

We are gullible sponges and cynical repellents, by context, by turn, susceptible to wish and self-fulfilling prophecy. We are sands, easily shifted; blades of grass, bending upon a fixed point. And as entrenched as granite.

[November 8, 2015 (with slight editing)]

~*~

Fear creates a feast
to suit the taste
of each invited guest
that takes a seat
and makes request,
to fill the belly of a beast.
We are what we eat.

[February 2016]

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Which party?

Brexit aside, which party is more malleable: a party led by a seemingly unassailable yesteryear ideologue or a party caught out and haunted by the overt flaws in its libertarian mindset? Which is more palatable: a party that seeks social justice by means of a chippy levelling down or a party that is so admonished and exposed that it may yet have social justice thrust upon it by sheer necessity and command?

One party merely seeks to scapegoat different demographics; the other is seeing its scapegoats bite back. One is on the upturn of the wheel of self-righteousness; the other is coming down. Which is likely to be the most adaptive: the one coming up on hubris and rose-tinted zeal or the one that is increasingly pulled down by its rich certainties and chastened by the consequences of its overreach?

Now add Brexit. Which party accepts that Brexit is, irrespective of current official positions, the priority that will determine the viability of the whole United Kingdom and the well-being of every individual on these isles? Which party is most likely to listen and learn and accommodate realities and new information? Which party’s approach might be more readily altered by sensible persuasion? Which party seems more sensitive to the scrutiny and pressure of the wider public and the Media? Which party looks as though it can be more easily called out and reined in by its own?

What a horrible state of affairs.

What Britons want is anybody’s guess

What Britons want
is anybody’s guess.
Do not ask me, for
I am only one;
I did not seek this mess:
not for my gain
not in my name,
was Brexit’s pain begun.

I did not seek this source of stress
that stalks my country,
walks her backwards,
makes her people less
with less.

I did not seek a council of
emboldened third-rate jesters
nor the laissez-disconnect
from fact and intellect that festers;
sends attacks across
my patriotic bows and, even now,
undaunted by reality, does will
a march of muddled expectations.

No, nobody knows
what Britons want,
beyond humiliation
as a glaring guarantee
while glowing Pride
befalls a nation.

Did you get the memorandum?

Did you get the memorandum?
Truth is not a referendum
That’s reflected in a ballot,
In accordance with our palate.
An opinion doesn’t mean you’re right
And blackmail is a pretty risky
Filthy way to start a fight
And bleeding hearted populists,
So expert in promotion,
By exploiting our emotions:
They well know it.
And it shows if you try looking
At the mess they’re busy cooking,
That they haven’t got a frigging clue
Beyond what they told us to do
And if you think about it, nor may you.
For a better understanding,
Take a gander at the chaos
Of the dross with which
They play us.
Do you know which face is speaking?
Can you count the fakes and spot the spin
In all the lines they’re tweaking?
Have you looked around the back for strings?
Seen the cracks within the shite?
Checked your confirmation bias
And that lazy soundbite?
Do not pander to post-truth.
Don’t misunderstand a purpose
Where agenda can usurp us;
Have a pref’rence for some proof.
Stop pretending white is black,
Cease meandering around the facts
And open wide those glassy eyes,
Unglue the ears and hear the guile
And change the dismal diet,
For at least a little while.

The whole world wrought

What are we?
Who are we?
What have we become?
What have we done
But that we strut and curse
With Human ignorance
And hubris?

We sew pockets of hell on Earth
And fret when it’s too late
And still yet tell ourselves
That any fiction is infinitely better
Than to fess up; than to face our
Reaping

Wide,
The World weeps bloody tears
And suffocates under fractious clouds
That wreck and reek to retching

Sick, the planet heaves,
Clamouring for more glamour
And belief’s cold sweats

Adrenaline free-falling
Out of disconnect

Selective fear and fury
Horror
Paranoia
Stalks the Psyche
Trammels
Into frozen thought and feeling

The whole world is reeling
Dancing to discordant tunes

Tectonic Titans crunching
Crushing
Scraping scraps with blades

All is percussion
Gluttonous
And crashing

World made glass and straw
And poisoned shores
In hearts and thoughts
Polluting souls

The whole world wrought
To overwrought and overwhelm
And all for nought.

 

[From June, 2014]

It cannot last

Surreal
the farce
that comes to pass
for brains that feel
with mindful hearts.
‘Tis art that steals
the lesser part
and seals the better
from surpass.
Do not trespass
with high ideals;
don’t think with rigour;
check your feels.
Don’t laugh,
don’t shout;
don’t even ask
but do not doubt:
it cannot last.

Our own worst enemy

There’s a juxtapositional dissonance that haunts our socio-political atmosphere. Like looking but not noticing how your eyes are taking turns at keeping closed.

David Cameron expects a hundred separate factions in Syria to unite around their complex histories and myriad agenda to make a common cause of peace and civic stability. The Labour Party can’t unite just two basic factions who claim, habitually, to share, in common, nearly every cause.

There are sixty-plus million people in this country, self-identifying with any number of every conceivable tribe and demographic and none. But no matter because nuance and perspective are on extended sabbatical so, if you have no idea where you belong or are more inclined toward the none group, there are plenty of people who will happily supply you with a label or two.

Refugee crisis, climate change, scroungers, terrorist sympathisers, Trident, values, etc, etc. Each, a captured meme, irresponsibly loaded, wound tight and released into the wild as a springboard for an emotionally charged and polarised population, fuelled by paranoia, cognitive dissonance and easy bias.

A great deal of the binary manifests as dumb and lazy stereotyping by vitriolic attention-seekers. It is irritating and unpleasant and it’s hardly conversational or constituting rigorous, healthy debate but, usually, the passion is still understandable, even if the right or reason is questionable. It’s real harm is in the incremental traction that degrades us all, albeit slowly and less obviously. Still, over time, if polarisation intensifies because it is being incited, even the most reluctant will be forced to choose a corner.

And, increasingly, many do behave as if it were their very duty to directly harass, de-platform, even intimidate and physically hurt any person, public or private, into ‘correct’ thinking or silence. This is the free speech and free will of self-importance and superiority that mocks Free Speech and Free Will. Acting like and treating each other as enemy contestants on a cheap reality show, editing for outrage and sensationalism, has consequences: groupthink and censorship are in conflict with one-upmanship and hedonism. This, as Britain debates how to deal with the terror of Da’esh, a fascistic conviction of religious hysteria, currently claiming and exacting domination and punishment of others as a duty, gifted from God.

We are told: they hate us, not for what we do but for who we are* – Is not what we do informed by who we are? Are we, then, as a Society, as factions and as individuals: are We** acting genuinely, from within ourselves or are we behaving quite out of character? We are well aware of the authoritarian character of our Government that throws its ill-considered, exploitative weight around the world and meddles at home, to divide us and diminish our freedoms and rights. We know it doesn’t trust us. It probably doesn’t even like us. And our fixed horizon is down to more than Media framing and the fractured state of opposition. It is us, too. If we are our own worst enemy, we are outnumbered.

Perhaps, in the grand scheme, we are undergoing a collective right of passage and Humanity’s psyche is negotiating a higher puberty but I listened to Hilary Benn’s rhetorical turn and I thought: Here We are, not only subject to a Machine that holds our democracy and universal values in contempt but We hold us in contempt. We hold our values in contempt. We hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. Here We are, with our own tide of petty, tribal fascism. The Conservative Government tells us that to thrive in the global race, We must be competitive. At this rate, we will beat Da’esh to it and defeat ourselves.

 

*Of course they hate us. They’re an anally retentive death cult.
**Pronouns are interchangeable. I use ‘We’ (and ‘you’) to include anyone or everyone, generally and so as to avoid singling out specific individuals.