I’m feeling angry, sad, vexed, stressed, annoyed, defeated, useless, scared, worried, confused and I don’t know which of these emotions is going to be the one taking control of my fingers as I type this blog post.
My eyes are tingling, staring ahead behind a watery glaze. My mind pulsing, willing to find the right next step – a solution. This isn’t how life should be. Is it? There must be a different way. When will the light turn on and make the path appear? Perhaps I’m in a delusional state that is hankering after a world that can never be!
So what has got me typing on a rampage?POLITICS!
To be specific it was reading this article on Trump’s policy to expand the Mexico City policy, which in short plans to stop the United States financially supporting groups around the world that support or promote abortion.
I have always shied away from politics. Growing up in a working-class family on a council estate we didn’t talk about it. We had the orange poster which belonged to the Liberal Democrat party on our window – like the majority of the houses on our street. I didn’t ask why we voted Lib-Dem all I knew is that we didn’t like the ‘tories especially not ‘Maggie Thatcher’ (throw her up and catch her)!*
When I was old enough to vote, I carried on the tradition and placed a clear fat X in the Lib-Dem box – not spending a moment reviewing policies. I actually spent more time researching where I was going to go on my first holiday abroad without parents than I did deciding which party I wanted to lead the country. I’m sure I’m not alone with this disclosure.
Another reason I shied away from politics was the belief I held that it was for the intelligent and educated and dare I say it dull – in my circles, politics wasn’t cool! On the rare times that I did decide to pick up a newspaper and read about it, I was quickly discouraged as it was really hard to understand and what was with the long words and drawn out information? Google wasn’t to hand then to check – so I cast the paper aside and continued to live my life in an oblivious ignorant bubble.
I’m so pleased to say that through the years my opinions changed and I started to take politics more seriously. Although I still feel very uncomfortable sharing my views because I’m not academically articulate. I understand that no matter my background, I have a right to my views.
I think that people often get confused with having a right to own an opinion with being abusive, hateful, offensive, controlling and forceful with their views and dangerous with their actions. I’ve seen attacks become personal as the virtual gloves come on and the subject which was been debated cast aside – with neither side having any intention of hearing the other person out.
The scathing down right disgusting comments my eyes witnessed over the recent Alabama abortion policy still weighs heavily on me now. Posts were full of loaded threats, hypocrisy and contradictions.
I can understand that’s the reason why many people steer clear of getting dragged into the troll wars on social media but unfortunately many people sidestep politics all together.
I came across a quote from Elie Wiesel, a Romanian-American writer and political activist. It said:
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
I sat with it. Wanting to defend my action of inaction in the past, but…..I couldn’t.
I’m clearing my throat from years of silence of things that actually do matter – I’m croaky and at times nervous but I realise that every voice matters and I stand with the tormented.
Speaking out does mean putting yourself out there and at times it’s going to be uncomfortable but staying silent often means turning your back on the ones that need the most support.
I came across an infographic which was a breakdown of the results from the 2015 UK General Election. What was shocking to see was the amount of people that did not vote – the numbers surpassed the 2 main parties (Conservative and Labour).
Such an eye-opening statistic. So many people stayed silent!
I believe the world is inherently good and the reasons many people stay out of politics are justifiable – to a certain extent. But we need to think wider than what personally affects us and further than our immediate future.
I constantly hear that there’s a shift happening and things are going to improve and I have to admit I’ve been drawn into believing that as I am seeing it. Then I think back to a book I’d read by Naomi Klein, ‘No is Not Enough’. It is where I first heard about Echo Chambers. Wikipedia describes it as:
An echo chamber is a metaphorical description of a situation in which beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a closed system. By visiting an echo chamber, people are able to seek out information which reinforces their existing views.
Yes, it’s important to be surrounded with people who are on a similar wavelength to you and share your views and values but it can give false hope that things are actually better than they are.
A while back I came across a post on Instagram that made me assess the type of people I followed on social media and become more diverse.
The poster asked you to: check your follow list. Is it full of people who: Look like you? Face the same issues as you? Have the same privileges as you? Because if it is then it’s highly likely that you’re viewing the world through a warped lens – set just to your perfect temperature.
I started to write this post to let off steam, I have a platform to vent and writing helps me to do that. I didn’t know where it was going to go and have taken many a detour to get to here. It’s not a usual post for me but it is one that I needed to write.
If this post can make just one person:
- that doesn’t currently vote to vote
- that usually stays neutral to openly offer their support to a vulnerable group
- join a rally or demonstration march
- assess the views they currently have (are they hand-me-downs or your own?)
- follow someone on social media that is different to them
Then I will be grateful.
Hi Emma, I read your post and the article you referenced, and I have a lot to say. First and foremost, I’m always surprised by the level of engagement citizens of foreign countries have in American politics. By and large, Americans don’t give a hoot what happens any place else. The current anti-abortion movement in America is troubling and dangerous. If our current supreme court isn’t willing to overturn Roe v. Wade, then probably the next or the next or the next will. I was one of the few people I know who predicted that Trump would win the election, and I’m going on record here saying he will get reelected. For everyone’s disgust over this new trend (75% are OK with abortions in the case of rape) voters make their decision on vague feelings rather than smart choices. I think there’s a longing in much of America for what is seen as a simpler time, before feminism and LGBTQ rights and #blacklivesmatter and #Metoo. And not just from white men over fifty. I find it astounding that a person who mocks the disabled and denigrates women and spends most of his waking hours calling his opponents names on twitter could get any support at all, but it’s clear that I don’t understand my fellow countrymen. The time for American leadership is over. Of late, we’ve done a poor job. The damage done to the USA in the past 3 years won’t be corrected for decades to come.
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Hello. Thank you for your post it made for a really engaging and interesting read. Unfortunately America is so powerful and heavily influences other countries, even if we didn’t want to pay attention we would know. I actually think a lot of people from the UK could probably name more US Presidents than UK Prime Ministers. Since Trump has got into power I feel it has been like a nod of approval for nationalism, perhaps it just feels like a rise because more people are being vocal about their views. It is so good to hear your views as an American about the anti-abortion movement and American politics in general. On a day to day basis does it feel any different living there? I totally agree with you that so many people want that simpler time, there are a lot of previously muted voices that are speaking up and people don’t like it – don’t like the change or disruption. We are living in a time that will be studied in history classes years to come it is that big. I really do hope that you’re not correct in saying he will get re-elected but I agree with you here too. Today we voted in the European elections – so eagerly awaiting the results of this. Thanks again for your post 🙂
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Yes, it does feel different. There’s very much an ‘us and them’ vibe now that wasn’t so pronounced before. But like anything else, time has smoothed the edges of it which is a bad thing. It’s disgusting to get used to blatant racism, sexism, etc. The other day I read that Joe Biden has coined his own nickname for Trump to use in the campaign. This shows me that while many of us abhor his behavior, we are still adopting it. This coming weekend, I’m vacationing with my very right-wing sister-in-law’s family. Hopefully we’ll avoid politics altogether, but her teenage son typically won’t let it rest. Then my choice is hold my tongue or argue with a fifteen year old.