A bruised reed will he not break, and a dimly burning wick will he not quench: he will bring forth justice in truth
Open your FB feed. Finger your way up and down Twitter. Open any newspaper. What will you see? I guarantee you that bookending all the cat videos and other people’s holiday making the dominant message you will encounter will be this one;
We will be titillated by a sense of threat and almost-panic, which will leave us nursing a constant, debilitating, border-line anxiety.
I know this because I play that game too. I contrbute to it. I share posts railing against climate change denial and the bloody awful Univeral Credit system in the UK. I do this because what else can I do but piss into the digital wind? At least raising the issues might do some good, right?
Or perhaps not. After all, these posts almost certainly only reach people who already agree with them. They achieve nothing, change nothing. All they do is stoke the sense of crisis and anxiety.
Perhaps it might be even worse and that this anxiety is debilitating and undermining our ability to actually change anything. After all, there is something about how we consume our social media that then consumes us, rendering us impotent and useless as a force for change. The end result is a feed back loop that traps us, nullifying any energy that might be left for actual activism.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when we need to declare an emergency, in order to stimulate an emergency response. Real change often requires a crisis to pitch us into action. But when this crisis is framed in a way to make meaningful indiviual response seem impossible, it becomes a problem.
What can we do about it? I think it is time that even an old cynic like me has to start looking for stories of change that can inspre and unite local response. These are the stories that need to clog our FB feed- not just the virtue signalling ‘aren’t I cool’ thing, but in terms of celebrating the things done by others.
There also seems to me to be an impotant mind-shift in challenging what philospher Timothy Morton called Hyperobjects- terms that might represent something real, but are no longer useful terms because they are too big to get into our heads; black holes, the internet and of course global warming. Hyperobjects overwhelm us and render us powerless before them, like the approach of juggernauts. We have to find ways to break down hyperobjects so they become meaningful again.
We have to find ways back to hope.
It is a small thing, but this is one of the reasons I read and write poetry, so here goes again;
We are not helpless here
Thundering juggernauts will shudder to a halt
Inches from our upraised hands
We have made a stand
We are not victims here
Each injustice is remembered, not to avenge
But as the tender wounds of our becoming
Back when we made a stand
We are not broken here
Our bodies embrace their beautiful imperfections
And here, in our many shapes and colours
We make our stand
We are not defeated here
There is much to do but we are many, and
Whole worlds are reshaped by loving
So right here, we will stand