Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Gifting Ourselves...

Happy New Year to those we loved and those we lost, those who were healed and those who were not… To the kind souls, the brave ones, the gentle and the strong… and too, the ones we know are still getting it wrong. 

Be nice if we all stumble into truth too obvious to ignore and work together this year. Wishing more than ever for a wise, respectful & understanding 2019 x

(below – randomly arranged thoughts on the year)

GIFTING ourselves…

Awash still with the ebbs and flows of another year passing in its back and forth of ups and downs and roundabouts of hopes and fears, dread and cheer.

A year where the deep, much needed, always-valued love of friends, blends seamlessly with the sharp jagged edges where fresh wounds weep and reality, like acid cuts deep; ‘highs and lows’ doesn’t begin to describe this life… this obligation. Each of us giving what we can in our own ways as ‘Protectors’ of our daily-damaged world. Knowing how much is being ruined if we stay on this fossilised path with its phony democracies, corporate greed and disregard for you and me.. and how much is left to do to make it right and true for our children… grateful they’ll be - or despised will we.

Emerging out of 2018, raw but not ruined; so much lost along the way but the treasures found… surround the pain and eventually out-ratio it; as vision sharpens in its quest to seek the good in a bad scene.

The daily sight of the harm being done here, makes me want to scream with the pain of it and I feel that, as I close my eyes and look back over the year… but the pain shrinks to miniscule against the mighty flood of memories of laughter, knitting, silences, songs, dancing, running, bus journeys over hills and dales in the best of company, London streets (OUR streets), Yorkshire streets (OUR streets), Birmingham streets (OUR streets), uniting, linking arms, clinging on to truth and each other …oooo and the finest dining: from full on catering 3-times daily at times of intense activity involving hundreds of Protectors on camps and roadside.. to intimate, warm ‘family’ dinners (with dumplings was the best) in the dining tent at Maple Farm community hub.

And the no-matter-what-else-is-happening ‘regulars’ of our shared feasting …Monday morning hot dogs hot from Gate Camp complete with ketchup, mustard and love/ Flapjacks and shortbread.. quiche and Goulash on Wednesdays/ sweets and treats shared over moments behind police kettles and cordons… the stuff of culinary delight that no Bake Off could match . The level of participation in our work, mirrored in the level of catering to match it.

Eyes still closed I can feel this year too… amidst the bruises, sharp hedges and dark edges of various police encounters – are the strong hugs that lift you over the caverns of deep sadness of knowing - that this is reality and it’s becoming our new ‘normality’.
We’re born with ‘our lot in life’ through no choice of our own – thrown onto a path dictated by matriarchs and patriarchs, peers and pressure, pleasures we believed to be real and thoughts created by influences unnoticed – education and media dictating what was seen to be the reality… and stuck in place with a life plan not of our making until one day… there’s a pause in proceedings, a moment that lets in some other light from someone else’s life-view – and you know, just instantly feel and know that where you’ve been, what you believed and the story you were in – isn’t and maybe never was, true.

This year again I’ve watched those I hold so very dear – face courts of injustice, theft of liberty and threats of worse to come… I can’t bear what I now know to be true of life, can’t bear what it denies us… we get one bloody go-round on this journey and to have so much of it stolen by the fights we have to undertake to seek justice… the fights faced daily to fight poverty, fight intimidation, fight hunger, fight for a home, fight for a sense of security, fight for a simple sense of hope and dignity on this journey – we work, we love, we care for those we created and those we’ve come to entangle with along the way …most I know tread gentle, don’t cause harm and constantly strive for a balance, a peace, a slice of tranquillity… these immeasurable treasures that we seek… time for loving, time for dancing, time for pleasure, time for fine flavours, fine views, fine sensory sensations.

The greed is not ours… that belongs to another breed of human… far fewer than we - maybe just 1% in reality – the rest just victims swept up into the bad stream to serve masters unseen – why? And more importantly.. why still today as yesterday and no plan for how it can be another way tomorrow… so stuck fighting the demons of now, that have us in perpetual fight to survive another unjust, government-sanctioned swipe...

Some people and situations come to test us to our limits… draw the rage out and flood the senses with intensity otherwise unknown …such hatred I have found I am capable of, such a taste for revenge and thirst for the blood of those who stole so much … BUT then comes love… impossible to drown, impossible to slaughter and impossible to ignore. If I serve one thing in life it’s probably this.. and no matter how much dark there is, the light wins, wins, wins.

Around me I see evidence that the deeper the wound, the stronger the force created within to handle it. The dips into the worst, ensuring the best we can muster is brought out to play… brought out to slay on equal footing? It’s a fierce thing is love… stronger than any hatred I’ve had the misfortune to come to know.

Internally are other wranglings still working themselves out in the background as I keep accumulating reasons to trust/mistrust, believe/unbelieve issues within issues I didn’t know I’d ever have to consider: academic independence/responsibility; abuse of innocent people by police; abuse of police by government; who holds power (and where are we in that structure?); media bias and lies and why/when/how the role we perceived it to play, got so corrupted; then there’s capitalism, corporatism, rebellion and the future of life itself (for starters!) – it used to be far simpler in ignorance.

I KNOW this to be true though...

It’s rare that we can say, with ABSOLUTE certainty …that a thing IS absolutely CERTAIN but I have a personally knowable truth… this one truth I've been encountering on and off throughout my life but more obviously, frequently and intensely since becoming an ‘activist’ for the past several years…

ALL problems, ALL suffering and ALL misunderstandings begin to heal when a ‘community full of differences’ stands together to face them.

There’s much about, about ‘sortition’ – one of the key demands of Extinction Rebellion that sent me off to discover more – I realised that it appears to be a more formal description of my ‘community full of differences’. It’s a way of solving problems normally hindered by our differences – a way of reaching solutions that aren’t one side or another but rather a better blend that produces previously unconsidered outcomes. Rather like what we see when we talk of ‘hive mind’ or ‘crowd sourcing’ – I think there is much more to come in this.

*A discovery that came as 2018 went

– Roadside we get so much support from passing motorists but every once in a while you get a “GET A JOB!” shout from an angry-faced driver as they lean out, all veins raging.

I used to journey this road regularly too – headed to work like they are and I guess I would have felt some rage if I was headed to a job I probably didn’t like – to give-over my day for someone else’s profits disproportionate to my labour… and passed by a sea of people waving, smiling, acting with complete autonomy and dictating how their days would be. Contrary to crazy theories – we are not paid by anyone, EVER to do this – we walk up that hill and each unpaid step is of our own making and reason. Strange paradox too is that I have more energy for what I do now than anything I’ve done before – especially as the whole ‘reward’ part that used to come with wages, no longer exists.

But I worked it out… made my discovery:
-when we’re roadside, we’re not SELLING our time – we’re GIFTING it and ourselves and that’s the ultimate power and it rests with us.

And not just roadside but every time we take time to inform, share and involve with others with the aim of Protecting what matters.

*Plan for next steps in 2019:
I suppose I’ll keep constantly questioning myself, attacking my motives, tearing down my judgements, reviewing my position and adjusting my aim according to what I know at any given time …but staying undecided enough on ultimate goals, in order to accommodate fresh information. Oooo and more pleasure seeking and joy-dwelling 

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Should have left some breadcrumbs...

Before it all gets too much and the hopes, dreams, pains, hardships and friendships of 717 days overwhelm – along with this kind gifted wine – I wanted to declare my immense gratitude that we all showed up. Whatever comes as we approach year 3 of standing together at this roadside – I’ll be forever both anguished and in debt, to fate that brought us to this ghastliness …so filled with beauty, humanity and life passionately lived. Someone said activists see the negatives and are pessimists but that is clearly BS… we fight for life, for the bloody intense love of it, for the way we KNOW it could be if we were free from the damned shackles of someone else’s economy… …away from the conformity of days spent in normality, we’ve discovered other ways to be, other ways to see and there’s a realisation of just how wrong-shaped maybe we used to be. I find it awkward to walk back toward the former life that percolates in the background of the now more common, daily life at the roadside… returning reveals the messiness of the way it is under a system skewed toward the few. News stations are like horror channels churning out bad times, wrong moves, political fools, selfishness and no hope. Roadside… it’s all about lifting ourselves up, standing with absolute purpose, not giving up, never giving in… nothing is trivial – even the stuff that sounds like it is. The humour comes easy because it’s so needed, and though the smiles are genuine, we know they're sometimes all there is that's holding back the tears of dismay and burning rage that come when the brutality and assault all get too much. Generosity, kindness and sharing come as standard now - now that we've come to understand more fully who we each are. Trust has built as we each unfolded to each other over so many many days... impossible to hide yourself in this arena. And there’s nourishment easily found when we seem too few... as now-familiar names and avatars appear on livestreams and timelines to urge us on, tell us thanks, show support, share our plight and enhance us in unseen but always ‘felt’ ways. I have such certainty in what we do because when I look at the faces next to me or read the words that support our actions – they’re all attached to people I’ve come to admire, respect and feel honoured to call friend. How can ‘authority‘ compete with the honesty, solidarity and determination of us? Don’t get me wrong, I want this done. Want this ugly reason to get up every day… gone. It’s what then comes that makes me wonder – we all see so differently now; we know that the system that caused the threat that brought us here, will not stop harming, even when we win this one. There’s a worrying realisation that even if I’d left breadcrumbs to get me back ‘home’ – that I wouldn’t recognise it or be able to relax in it again. ... We're acting in truth and obligation and that's the better road... even if it's 'destination unknown'. So here’s to what’s next and all the best in love and solidarity. Namaste xxx

Sunday, 18 November 2018

5 Bridges, 3 Trees & 1 collective nervous laugh…

The question of authority and who deserves the right to have it

Borne out of real fear/uncomfortable rage/loathsome truth and massive uncertainty about how the hell to do anything that matters, anything that can somehow make a difference …comes first, a sort-of nervous laugh. The sort of laugh that marks a point where a decision with totally unknown consequences, must be faced. 

We each where once… NOT activists and then something took our attention with a truth too blatant to ignore and we were compelled to act against injustice; the injustice of abuse of power, the injustice of harm and suffering caused in the pursuit of profit, the injustice of disregarding the impacts of current harm on other peoples and future generations.

Whatever truth brought us to become active – it was the gift of a double-edged sword that at once frees us from the confines, confusion and corruption of a life nourished by lies – to the deep cutting away of much that we hold close and familiar; suddenly the media is clearly a series of marketing options for one agenda or another, police uniforms do not represent a safe place to run to and ‘authority’ and who holds it over who… is up for debate. Yet we also realise that none of this can be allowed to stop us because we live in dangerous times, requiring urgent action - regardless of what that action brings to us personally.

It seems at the time of the change in our understanding - that we are I think, most really ourselves and vulnerable too. As the things we’d grown to rely on for our world-view, are shown to be full of falsehoods – we naturally look for something we CAN trust, people we might stand beside and potential paths ahead. Yesterday at Extinction Rebellion's Rebellion Day, I saw clearly in thousands of faces – the newness of realisation, the freshness of determination and every reason to feel renewed hope.

Yesterday presented an opportunity for individuals to come together – not as groups, not as organisations or societies but as individuals at all our stages of activism, from all sorts of places and viewpoints. On our coach from Lancashire, we arrived as Nanas and Protectors from Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest – but we each went on to experience our day as individuals – no group actions, no set things to achieve - just solidarity of purpose with every other individual there.

As well as the massive gatherings, stunning artworks, humour, music, joy and easy comraderie; countless arrests happened to the honourable who answered the call for some to sacrifice in order to hold the bridges for the people. Those faces of arrestees will forever be etched as I could see steely determination in the eyes of some… along with total fear and tears from others. Experience though serves to enhance knowledge and the fuller picture – I hope every arrestee found this to be the right thing to have done – it was certainly deeply appreciated by those of us who could not be arrested.

My day was bloody amazing and I’m still feeling the warm, powerful flow of it all in my veins. We shut down 5 bridges in the heart of London from 10am to late afternoon and then went on to Parliament Square and boldly planted 3 trees in the middle of it… a powerful message from 1 mass of more than 6,000 people that resounded like a shot across the bough to government and made clear this was a firm, peaceful step on a road of defiance; a road that can lead to the much-needed disruption of ‘business as usual’ in the way our lives are lived and governed, IF the government does not heed the demand of people the world-over:

"…face the truth of environmental disaster that will lead to extinction of living things and act NOW to enforce the solutions."

To turn up with rage would have been to add to an already burning pit of smoldering anger that threatens to engulf and make the worst come sooner… the people instead turned up with the things you reach for when that nervous laugh first kicks-in – the only reliables there are: comedy, art, music, colour, joy, love and most of all – an unmovable determination that a point would be made.

I saw the responses to the decision to make a difference, all about me yesterday with so many unknown faces that showed newly engaged activists – the answers to all the tragedy that could come if we don’t make a difference.


The Unexpected Ending...

Our coach was due to return us at 5pm so I thought we’d only get a little of the closing ceremony in Parliament Square; I went in to do a small, last livestream and as I got closer to the inner circle of the many hundreds of people I stepped over who were seated, three young trees were brought in. Those creating the ritual in centre began to dig in order to plant these trees (in the middle of the flat, lawned Parliament Square itself!), then the police started to move in. Suddenly and all at once like a perfect echo that reverberated – everyone just started standing up and linking arms and creating a totally impenetrable circle around the trees and the planters that felt as strong as steel, as alive as a guitar string just plucked and as much a oneness as the bloody universe.

The chant that was the heartbeat, said everything I felt and as a close to a day of absolute wonder… it was the finest of things.

“Always in love.” 

*Photo credit to the brilliant Pitcher Photography

Friday, 16 November 2018

Eve of Rebellion...

Back at the time of the Arab Spring, Indignados, Occupy Wall Street, Occupy London etc. it was about the PEOPLE rising up against those who abuse power over us - the 1%

Since then we've had Brexit, Trump and countless other voting situations that pitted people against people and split communities in 2 and more pieces... dismantling and re-focusing the 99% onto each-other, rather than where we need to be directing our attention... right back to that 1% who create wars, cause suffering, institute austerity, dismantle hard-fought for rights and services and most of all, most pressing and urgent of all - nourish, encourage and force dangerous, polluting industries as our only choice.

They do not take the bold steps required to save our water from toxins, protect our air from pollutants or our soil from degradation - because they ARE the fossilised past and the fossil fuels that are killing our future.

No uprising is the best one, none are certain to work and all have been criticised; every approach could be improved and not every person involved is working with best intention BUT... the CERTAINTY of failure only comes with staying put and doing nothing.

Tomorrow I'll be part of Rebellion Day actions in London, along with other Protectors from the anti-fracking movement, Frack Free Lancashire and Nanas from Nanashire - because action matters and time is so bloody short.

Already and for years, those I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with have been taking part in civil disobedience, non-violent direct action and been subject to countless arrests and police abuse - we KNOW what can happen but accept that it is this and all the other stuff.. the letters, petitions, rallies, lobbying of MPs etc. that will come together to add up to a force that makes change possible.

We each are entirely AUTONOMOUS and only have to do as much as we individually choose - nothing is an insistence, just an invitation... to partake, to witness, to share.

See you tomorrow? 

The 'other' solution for Brexit chaos... (the Bobby Ewing Taking A Shower option)

Next step for #Brexit #NoBrexit #BitOfBrexit #WTFbrexit could be this: *Bobby Ewing Taking A Shower
*need to have been 80's fan of TV series Dallas to get how this one plays out
** if no idea what this is about, perhaps search: "How Dallas got out of sticky plot-line-gone-wrong issue"
(spoiler: it was all a bad dream!)

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Punching Police...

On not (yet) punching the police...

I watched your face, the glint in your eyes, the upturned lips between smile and grimace, the way you relished her scream of pain, the way you twisted tighter so she’d do it again, the way your uniform meant nothing at all, the way when you knew I was looking – seemed to make you even more cruel.
That was the moment I cracked – you were the straw on my camel’s back; I wanted to punch you again and again, wanted you to know MORE than her pain, wanted you to feel futile and small, wanted YOU to curl up in a protective ball. I wanted to punch you in your gloating face, how the hell do we end up in this sort of place? I actually wanted this to be a thing I’d do and realise you’re making me just like you.
You treat this as just another Saturday night brawl, throwing the elders, the young and all; not once have you bothered to truly assess, the reason we’re here and why we protest. ACAB they say and I did not – some are absolute bastards and others are not… but that uniform paints you all the same and I find it hard to remember your number and name … so soon it will be that I no longer engage and the sight of you will just bring on the rage.
So I write this to you, the cop with the face – I still want to punch it and that’s a bloody disgrace… what part of community safety do you represent? What possible way can our rifts ever mend? We’re broken and battered, bruised and pained – but despite all the confrontation, you can’t say the same. Exemplary are we who are not punching your faces, be grateful for that as one day… we may trade places.
Now as I sit in the company of my grandchild, fresh from a cuddle and an ‘I love you Grandma’ – I find the hate in my belly still festering, an alien in there resting. Life touched in all its parts, uninvited you’re in here attacking my heart. There’s no calm strong enough to shut you out, no way I can escape what you’ve made this about.
I came in peace but you made this war.
There is a cure though and I know it well… it’s over here where there’s genuine heart-felt – love and compassion, trust and support in the arms of the activists… my beautiful cohorts 

The Sound of Silence

Gifting Ourselves...

Happy New Year to those we loved and those we lost, those who were healed and those who were not… To the kind souls, the brave ones, the ge...