Friday, February 26, 2016

Good News, Bad News

I have a lot occupying my mind. A whole lot of good - I like my world, I like being where I am right now. I like my house off the park. I like waking up on a clear, cold day and the leafless tree branches framing the window being the first thing I see. I like hot tea in the evenings. I like my daily routine, my commute and work. I love London and the person I’m here with.

But there’s bad too – not a whole lot, but it’s there. The intermittent bad news that is filtered through websites and papers. Margaret Atwood once wrote that ‘we live in the gaps between the stories’ – and I couldn’t relate to this any more than right now. Stories of displaced people all over the world, of injustice and cruelty beyond imagination. An endless narrative that sees humans methodically destroying our planet. 

Life is a kind of balancing act between the foreground and the background. Occupying the comfy foreground, ignoring the blurry background.

The Bad

Millions of people have been displaced by the (4-year) civil war in Syria. Taking treacherous journeys in a desperate attempt to leave the place they once called home – but that is now, largely, a barren wasteland – they are on the move. Some have stopped in camps or on fenced borders, but this is just a brief interim. Their circumstances are largely temporary. And rather than make a fully-fledged, united effort to process the thousands, Europe has cast them away. We have erased them from our land and our consciousness. We have allowed fear and misunderstanding to shut us off from all empathy.

Donald Trump is a serious contender in the Republican race. And thousands of people are cheering him on. He appeals to the ignorance, the bias, the bigotry in people. The problem isn’t him becoming president – he won’t, but it’s the paradigm he creates. He makes it OK for people to be racist, prejudiced and oblivious to reality.

Climate change is a real thing. We can all feel it. It’s not just something they’re warning about. Production processes of everything we buy, from our clothes to our food to any other commodities, are totally skewed. They exhaust natural resources and cheap manual labour and have huge repercussions on the environment and on people and communities all over the world. We buy things without asking where they have come from. Clothes that are cheap at the expense of real people’s livelihoods, food that is pumped with cancer-causing chemicals and available at the expense of slaughtering millions of animals.

It's not all bad though.

The Good

Corporations and businesses – who ultimately hold the majority of the power in our societies – are opening up to the idea that good business is good business, i.e. shifting their production and distribution models to be more ethical and sustainable reflects well on them, and might bring them more revenue. If the promise of revenue is what it takes to make this shift, then so be it.

Art – so much of it. Books, films, exhibitions, illustrations, projects, experiences. It’s all out there for us to grab with few limitations. The internet has made all this wonderful art accessible, and also opened up the possibilities for collaboration. 

Travel is more accessible than it’s ever been before. We can whizz to the other side of the planet at a relatively cheap cost. Incredible experiences and new insights are within our grasp.

Bernie Sanders, and the majority of the population who have good intentions and kind hearts.

And we can’t leave out the calming manatee. This guy helps even on the worst of days.

If The Bad makes you angry, or upset, or just wrenches something inside, however small –there are ways your actions and choices can be a force for good. Curate your life; lace it with value; live slowly and consciously.

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