09 December 2009

Answers on a postcard, please.

I haven't sat down to write for a few days, mainly because its been hard to find something to write about that wouldn't cause me an aneurysm in the process.

The farce of the Public Sector Unions/Government negotiations, the results of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission report on clerical abuse, the balloting of the Gardai on illegal strike action and finally the leaking of the Danish Text which as a 'Plan B' for Copenhagen would revoke Kyoto, sideline the UN and make the World Bank the arbitrator of Climate Change action to the determent of those countries most susceptible to the effects of Climate Change, all have sent my blood pressure skyrocketing while simultaneously bringing my feelings of disempowerment and helplessness to new lows.

Blogging about this all seems pointless. If you are reading this, more than likely you are familiar with my blog, or know me in the real world. Thus you are aware of my opinions and beliefs and share them, or you have contrary ideas and read my blog in spite of my bolshy world view. I'm either preaching to the converted, or falling on deaf ears, but in either event my writing about these things is having no real effect other than as a salve for my wrath and ire.

But leaving that aside for a moment, who are you?

I've lived a varied and strange life and the friends that I have collected along the way reflect this, from East Coast Academics to West Coast dot-commers by way of bible-belt auslanders and belt-way insiders in the US, from the top 1% of Celtic Tiger Cubs causing all the nation's problems to the most exploited and marginalised bearing the brunt of the nation's pain here in Ireland. You are teachers and students, scientists and politicians, musicians and artists, business folk and civil servants, engineers and architects, doctors and preachers, crafters and designers, thinkers and do-ers, layabouts and dreamers and many, many more who refuse to be defined by their activities alone.

And yet by and large all of us exist in splendid isolation, focusing on our own issues and problems, never attempting to change the world around us because of the weight of our own concerns. If the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist, then the greatest trick the Man(TM) has ever pulled is convincing Society that Society itself doesn't exist.

Contrary to neoliberal belief, we are not all merely isolated individuals, together we are something more than the some of our parts. There is something stronger about society, whether it is a society of hundred or a society of five million, but we have all been conditioned to believe that we are incapable of effecting change, and this is simply not true.

Mainstream politics isn't the answer, I've been down that route and have been severely disillusioned by what I found. Nor is black-bloc radicalism with its stone throwing and Starbucks-burning, that sort of carry-on is for the days when I wore a younger man's clothes, and moreover I'm just plain tired of being negative all the time; Anger may be an energy, but it hasn't produced anything worthwhile in the last twelve months.

But I am at a loss for what the answer is.

So I am putting out an open call to you, my friends, for suggestions on how we can get together and effect change. Between us all we have ample ideas, time, money and willpower, all we need to do is to escape this splendid isolation we have become encased in and start talking to each other about real things, and what to do about them. Post comments, email me, phone me, make me buy you a coffee and assail me with your grand plan for universal harmony; it doesn't matter how you do it, just start talking and we'll see where we go from there.

I'm tired of trivialities, it's time to change.



At 3:03 pm, Blogger Jonzer said...

Helplessness is the general feeling I find gnawing away at my kernel when I catch myself unawares. Anger is genuinely tangible wherever I turn, whose source I can only ascribe to a general feeling of impotence.

I recently moved to an exceptionally friendly little square where everyone looks out for an knows each other. However, the other morning, one of my own neighbours made an intentional, exceptionally angry and pointless gestureand its blatancy made me stop and wonder exactly what its source could be. Regardless, anger is prevalent and palpable among the masses.

What to do? Hmm... If I begin typing here I won't stop till my fingers bleed. I will take you out for Saturday morning coffee. Expect a call from me around 11am.

At 10:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been listening to the budget coverage, in particular, with similar rage and helplessness. The urge to Get Out There And Do Something is strong within this one ... if only I knew where and what.

I tend to think that you've got to start where you are. Like you, I feel as though I live in a bubble of broadly like-minded people, so it's hard to know where I could make a difference.

Your Very Understanding Girlfriend seems to have an unusually clearheaded approach to this particular question, as far as I can see. How does she do it?

And given my skills and proclivities, what on earth could I do? I mean, teach the disenfranchised to knit? That's not a totally wacko idea, actually, but I'm not at all sure I could pull it off without being offensively Lady Bountiful about it.

(When it's more possible for me to leave the house of an evening, I intend to train as an adult literacy tutor. That does feel like a genuine positive contribution, but it's a fair way down the road.)

In conclusion, I don't know. Wish I did.

At 1:11 am, Blogger lusciousblopster said...

There is so much to say to this. Mainly, yes yes yes yes yes. Let's do something. Because we can, because it will help, because we (all of us, everywhere) are the people who can change things.

It is hard to live in and look at the world and not be depressed. And so not being depressed is part of our job. It is necessary. Finding happiness is a radical act in difficult times.

We do need to do something. We're already doing something, a lot in fact, whether we recognise it or not, and it's important to have that recognition, that by doing certain things that we believe in, and not doing certain other things, that we're already taking action. It is not impossible.

But we can do more and differently. We need to, if we're to have anything like a decent life, and if the people after us are to have one too. I have lots of ideas, and so do all of us, and I want to hear them, and I want us to act on them. And it does have to be together. We're in this together, and we have to make it work, together.

So, let's start getting together more and with more focus, let's start airing and creating those ideas, and let's start doing. Do what you can. And we can do a lot. Here's looking forward to many more conversactions.

At 1:31 pm, Blogger Unkie Dave said...

Thanks one and all for your comments.

@Jonathan - i look forward to coffee, we have much to discuss

@leaninch - I am put in mind of the American phenomenon of Quilting, which is both a form of race memory and social activism. Any group activity can be a social forum where ideas and knowledge are shared. Do not underestimate the power of the Stitch and Bitch.

@lusciousblopster - You inspire and motivate me on a daily basis, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas and sharing the path of action with you next year.

At 12:13 pm, Blogger Snag Breac said...

Interesting post and interesting responses.

I have to say little things make differences, and while that often doesn't seem enough for me, its also easy to underestimate the power of it.

I love the fact that you blog about the things I often feel too frustrated to blog about, but I still agree with. It inspires me.

I go for the stuff that is less overtly political - but like you say about quilting and stitch n bitch, it is political too.

And the little things grow bigger...I've been going on at our knitting group about Irish wool and where to find it and how difficult it is, and bringing in samples of organic wool, - at first feeling no interest from most people, but slowly, as things come up over and over, people develop an interest, and suddenly start talking about where to get irish yarn.

I find it the same with blogging/protesting/whatever type of communication - the more things are said, the more I take notice, and I think it is the same for other people. That's why I enjoy reading your blog - it reminds me of the things that are important to me, makes me aware that someone else out there cares about this shit, and makes the whole thing seem stronger and more everyday.

So, it means a lot to me that you and thousands of other people care enough about this shit to write about it.
And I have to agree with Ghandi - "be the change you want to see in the world..." It might be small, but its still effective. A bit like fleas.


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