If people are so desperate, do we need to make far larger changes?
Do we need to begin by listening to those who we find intolerant and repugnant, to understand what is hurting so bad?
The posh boys from their posh schools: abandoned, buttoned up, having to appear smug and all knowing because they don’t know the first thing about how they really feel.
The racist thugs: venting spleen because they’ve been told so many times how worthless they are, and so must make someone else into a worthless pile of dust.
Nicola Sturgeon is not pretending when she describes her sadness seeing what is happening across in England.
We have our sectarianism and bigotry up here, but I have noticed ever since I moved back up to Scotland in the 80s, that when people speak in a public space here they/ we assume those listening to be social democrats, we assume a social solidarity and care for others (however much that may or may not be true).
Whereas those speaking in a similar space in the ‘Home Counties’ of southern England always assumed they were surrounded by Tories (even if they weren’t). [Except just after the 2008 crash when even bankers on trains to London were overheard saying “We’re all socialists now”. And I thought that was a good sign at the time; until I realised they meant we’d nationalise their debts and let them carry on as before.]
Is 2016 turning the page on 2008?
Would it be good to rise above parties and push for a declaration of independence from the real foe: an economic system that drives so many to desperation (whether gilded in paedophilic wealth or smashed in miserable poverty)?
Do we need a Transition movement of whole societies as well as of communities?
Do we need to build the resilience, the food growing, the energy and manufacturing, that can withstand the hard winters that would follow us calling the financiers bluff and their having fled [remember http://www.wewilldrivethemtotheairport.co.uk/]? Withstand the hardship of the financial economy crashing in its billions, before the real economy is yet resilient enough, before we are resilient enough, to live within our social and ecological means?
Would we have allies? Not countries, but citizens from elsewhere, even whole localities, movements? Would there be blockade busting allies to bring the supplies needed to get us through those winters?
Could we then repay those allies generosity as one by one countries seek to take back their lives? Might each country that has come through quietly let its citizens send support to those trying to escape the gilded lies and smashing grind where they are?
And is that all a fantasy, a dream, before returning to the mundane realities of steering our way through a Brexit or a humiliating (for Tories) climb down as they seek an eternal postponement of Article 50, while our European neighbours move from their earlier shock, to their current outrage, to tomorrow’s scorn?
Is it important NOT to dream just now, not to make this a bigger challenge than it already is? But instead to support a very capable Scottish Government to present stability to the world, to speak loud and clear that EVERYONE living here – from England, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, everywhere – all who live here are welcome and belong.
Or should we do both?
Should we use this unexpectedness moment to try to begin to meet the far larger challenge too? That of changing our sense of what is possible, so that we have a chance (this dominant global society has a chance, and therefore everyone else has a chance) to survive?
And would that feel like the Balkans must have felt when the war was finally over? What Europe felt like in 1945?
Only (unlike 1945) this time are we capable of making the deep social changes that created the Welfare State, without first undergoing a new war? Because our economy is already fed by a war on nature: a war which, the more we win, the more we annihilate our future.
Can we use this moment to see the depth of our crisis, and to dare dream the utter change required, or is this a moment simply to shore up what is good, and defy intolerance?
If not now, then when and how will we address the deeper crisis, the deeper war?
If now, and if we fought our way out of this war on nature and war on the poor: What would the air taste like, the morning feel like, at the break of the day that ends the war?
Would it be no different than this morning and tomorrow’s? Taking the kids to school, walking to the shops, working, chatting, tapping on these screens. Or would it be very different if in those public spaces the spell was broken and we knew that others knew that we had seen the war we were raging, and had decided we’d take the risk to no longer fight.
What would it feel like if we are no longer just trying to pay the bills, trying to get to the next weekend, the next holiday, the next job, the next stop, desperately trying to block out what is really happening to the people of the planet, the planet, and ourselves?
Does it start with a dream? Probably not.
It probably starts with an action.
“Mum/ Dad – What did you do to end the war?”
Allowing the hope (despite all the refusal to hope, the learnt dismissiveness / cynicism that promises to help us cope); feeling the hope can drop you into the depth of the despair.
But there, where the howling rage and the raging hope circle, if you know that others care as deeply too, then does the world still belong to ‘them’? Or is there only ‘us’?
Not the false unity ‘Us’ pushed by dictators/ elites as they exploit us (“we’re all in this together” meaning “the poor will pay for my economic and social crimes”).
But if “there’s only Us” means “I can see you are smashing others (out of greed or fear), regain your humanity instead” then it’s not that miracles happen and people transform before our eyes, but does that give us a far stronger place to stand?
From the place of refusing the violence and the lies and the manufactured greed and hopelessness, you can see the horizon.
The world turns. Nothing stays the same. Everything changes.
Do we choose to bow to changes as if they are imposed and inescapable, choose to be battered by the wind and stay in the small shrinking harbour of our private lives;
Or do we accept the changes that are surfacing, look to their deeper cause, and use this fierce wind to sail fast?
If we stop retreating in the face of night, can we turn with it as the world turns, and work our way through to the coming brightness of a spring day?
Is this a time to call out the deeper crisis, or a time to simply weather the one we’re in?