Remains of a protection site where everyday people got caught in another way of living and seeing
Tuesday morning the second of the fortnightly-cycles so blue-bin neatly placed outside (at crack of dawn or as late as reasonable the night before so as not to offend the street).... 2 hours after collection, Wheelie Bin Cleaner rumbles along showcasing the good people who pay for this... tomorrow, work at the Accountancy office writing about workplace pensions for small businesses (I want to write REBEL!! the pensions should come from what we pay in tax and NI already - this is a bloody scam - get the pitchforks at the ready) but instead I have to say things like "HMRC are clamping down with huge fines for failure to comply - you are breaking the law if you do not act by your staging date". If I don't write these words, I don't eat (so I link to stories of tax evasion by corporates and pension theft by the greedy – it helps a little).
Activism puts life under a microscope and when you delve in there, the routines, repetition, acceptance and conditioning are revealed to be a futile waste of this gift of life. We are 'ordered', penned, categorised and defined by incomes, possessions, certificates, obedience, cleanliness of bins.
Like most I know who have come kicking and screaming into activism (not like anyone wakes up and thinks “I know, I’ll crash my income to barely-survivable – lose some friends and respect – accept that some will see me as odd and possibly dangerous – spend most of my time researching ugly things and then give up all else in order to work for change) ...what a huge struggle it’s all turned out to be; a massive life-change that was not anticipated and is overwhelming in the shake-up it brings. Everything, everything looks different when you peel away the facade of order and find anything once considered routine - to be an ugly intrusion. I can’t remember what I used the internet for before activism, can’t recall what conversations I had with friends over leisurely lunches, can’t conceive of having been so bloody blind and complicit... but the day before I was an activist, I wasn’t one.
Watching the news this week made me cry before it made me angry. I know it was just another propaganda story for the energy sector’s fracking arm and that it was expected in their cycle of things ie: investors were looking fed-up and needed stimulation so 'Our' government complied with talk of throwing money about ...and the stocks - although not quite climactic - certainly showed some nipple-erection.
And that's the thing... we know what next, we know how this ordinarily, routinely, reliably plays out - but now, we know we know and that’s really bloody awful. Once you can see the processes in the cycles, you become aware of the huge burden that is growing. As the cycles proceed, the heavier it gets and the more difficult it is to work out how to unpack and unload. Under the weight we feel small and powerless already and then, because you can see the next layers forming, you have to start prioritising your outrage and attention. You notice suffering, realise corruption, understand how evil people have convinced themselves they’re not and that if you thought fracking was bad... bloody hell wait till you see the rest! I once said of activism that:
“When you walk through the door marked ‘activism’ not only do you realise you’ve been in the wrong room all your life – but that once through... there are so many many more doors.”
An amazing woman of incredible grit and determination who honourably seeks to stop nuclear waste disposal (Marianne Birkby) has questioned me a few times about why it is that 'fracking' has the attention and the activists (indeed it does come over as the energy sector's 'new black')... she doesn't mean the tone of her question to accuse I don't think and I totally understand where she's coming from... once you know the real risks of the thing you have your sight on, it is hard to understand why everyone isn't standing with you.
I once said to Marianne that I thought the difference was down to a few things primarily:
-as an issue, fracking came along once we had a grip of the internet/social media/livestreaming/independent reporters – so we could get our story out in many ways and often, debunk the next mainstream news item because we had the footage, the links to peer-reviewed research, the UN-paid experts acting on moral not financial considerations and we were able to weave networks that could nourish, inform, tug and self-correct through sheer numbers and ease of access.
-unlike nuclear waste that is already actively happening, is mostly unseen and a massive threat for forever... fracking isn’t yet happening here in the UK, it comes with masses of visibility and could threaten your next breath or sip of water. We have it easier because we’re preventing something starting up – not stopping an existing enterprise. Fracking is ONLY imminent IF we don’t act and many are realising that this means them too and right NOW, they really do matter.
I added to Marianne that the the ‘joy of fracking’ comes with it’s totally non-selective, unbiased threat to everything that relies on air and water for survival right now... so that’s every living, breathing thing and that once all the living, breathing things have fought this foe, they will also have SEEN how this came to be, what our role has been and how this was a risk our government was OK with – and ask “What else have they done or will they propose?” Add in the realisation that comes with this fight, that mainstream media misleads (I’m being fairer than I should – a lot of the time it just plain lies) and then the frack-free activists ask “What else have they lied about? What was ever true? How much has been hidden?” Then Marianne... there’s this massive bunch of people I’d like to introduce you to :)
So although I can see too many cycles now – my focus remains this and I see it as a clear red dot in front of me... when anything has my attention, I question first “Is this hindering my progress to the red dot or assisting? Can’t tell you how much fun that method has killed!
The layers of the burden will only ease with the many taking the weight, the many unpacking its parts and the many realising we are the many. This is happening in the frack-free movement: research too much for individuals is torn apart by the many and shared amongst us (7,000 page documents a mere morsel for us nowadays), planning application intricacies are broken down into plain talk so that all of the many can understand and we are finding an incredible truth that I have seen work miracles time and again... diversity.
For me, this is where we find our truths. I have been around campfires with strangers, where it was our differences that enriched our solutions. Where someone’s nit-picking, over-attention-to-detail habits were valued highly because they relentlessly insisted until answers came, where someone’s life-experience as an addict elicits empathy and enhances a warm, human understanding that was previously just a poor-opinion, where the quiet whispered philosophies I had never conceived, and the creatives screamed out in art that changed perceptions ... wisdom flooded these circles and has broken my life cycles.