Friday 23rd March 2018
I don’t really know how to be a man, only how to be a decent person.
I have seen people get angry and in this state do harm to others and themselves. I have seen people ruthlessly exercising power to advantage themselves, their families or some other chosen group. I have seen people ignorant of their own privilege, defending their rights and entitlements over others less privileged. I have witnessed people espousing beliefs that come from places of fear and that defy all rationality. I have seen people watch all this indecency and do nothing.
I am ranting above about these things in a period of time where political correctness, especially the rise of identity politics, seems to be dividing rather than uniting humanity. And I get this distinct feeling that the establishment, or should I say, the rich and powerful humans sitting on the top of the heap, are quietly glad and rubbing their hands as the debates about gender, sexuality, race and religion, rage on below them. The identity political debates where blame is laid upon one particular identity or the other. The 1% are glad because the spotlight is not on them or the systems of economics and law that chug along keeping them in their castles.
There were moments of optimism in the 1970s and early 80s when the populace felt that democracy and equality was finally settling over the western world. Then it all turned back.
There I go, raving on about the socio political climate again.
Anyway, I guess the big question is how to engage with the world and its realities. How much of an activist should one become?
I recall a few years ago getting more active. I joined some groups with good intentions, but the human flaws within the groups, flaws conditioned from years of less than ideal experience, became barriers to any real progress. Bullies pushed their weight around, gossips spread their lies and fear, and generally people accepted that this is the way of things, this is how humans work. Stick it out they would say, progress is slow and has to won by hard fought battles, really?
Do I want to do this anymore?
Back when I worked full-time to pay mortgages or rent, I’d find my self as part of the staff of some organisation, be it a school or a health department, a business or not-for-profit. I think once or twice I found myself in a nice place, nice because it contained a significant majority of decent people. It didn’t matter what we had to do, the humanness and co-operative nature of those occasions made it bearable, perhaps even fun. At the very least, nausea did not accompany the five day a week morning wake up alarm.
Working with decent people made all the different. It didn’t matter if they were male, female or some other gender, if they were straight, gay or some other permutation of sexuality, it didn’t matter if they were religious or atheists, or even agnostics, and of course the colour of their skin was totally irrelevant and of no issue. There was unity and not division. We would talk in breaks about ideas and not identities, and no one preached. But these rare workplace nirvanas, like everything, are impermanent. Things change. Typically things would revert to the status quo where work became unpleasant again. Where the whole raison d’être was that you work to pay the bills, work to pay your way, work through the week to have fun on the weekend. Yes, that idiocy. The idiocy where KPIs and productivity become the sole focus of all activity. Where management practices become micro and all pervasive, and of course induce feelings of inferiority and the feeling that you are constantly being watched. Feeling dispensible, insecure. Feeling that one wrong move and you could be homeless and hungry and shunned by society.
When did the Beatles sing about revolution? When did Gil Scott Heron rap about how the revolution not being televised? There are murmurings now. Will revolution come? And will it be so violent and create such chaos and destruction that the next rise of civilisation will make exactly the same mistakes? Or will civilisation evolve, peacefully and with sufficient pace and effect to avoid violence and war?
I have a theory. Today’s theory. A theory for what its worth. A theory because I know nothing.
My theory: To avoid revolution and facilitate evolution:
1. Be decent.
2. Call out indecency whenever it is present.
3. Walk away from people and situations where indecency prevails.
4. Encourage decency in others.
Decency is simple. We all know what is decent. We can feel its presence and also its absence. It is about being human, curious and co-operative, loving and generous, honest and peaceful.
Have a nice day everyone. May decency be with you.