If only – SoCS July 16/16

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If we could all take a moment to look into a stranger’s eyes, to communicate properly with each other, to smile, to shake hands, to say thank you, would the world be kinder than it feels now?

I feel extremely uncomfortable about the state of our small blue planet¬†right now. There seems to be so much polarisation, so much isolationism, so much suspicion and mistrust. Shades of grey, nuances seem so far out of reach. There seems to be far too much encouragement to consider everything to be binary – yes/no, black/white, right/wrong/, in/out. This world, full of humans as it is, cannot be like that. We are emotional creatures, there are so many points in-between. Aren’t there?

I’m a relatively cynical woman, but in my daydreams and night-dreams, I sometimes ponder a better world than the one we have now. And in my waking moments, I try to make the infinitesimal space that I inhabit a little better for others – say thank you to the bus driver, smile at the overworked and underpaid shop assistant who still goes about her work in the best way possible, wish the postman a good day. It’s not much, but I hope it helps. We all want to be acknowledged, don’t we?


 

This week, the lovely Linda has asked to write stream of consciousness style on ‘if’. This week in particular, I am thinking about the similarities that bind us together, not the differences that push us apart.

Why not hop on over to Linda’s place, have a read, and take part yourself?

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Class (un)distinction – SoCS June 18/16

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“Due to overcrowding on this train, I am pleased to let all passengers know that the First Class compartments have now been declassified.”

Oh, the oft-repeated lament of the conductor on my commuter train services. It seems to be a permanent fixture of late. There’s an ongoing dispute between the crew and operating company and who comes off the worst? Of course, the passengers. Cancelled trains over and over and over again.

But then, this statement got me to thinking. No matter how often claims are made that we live in a classless society, it can’t possibly be true. Here in the UK we are staring down the barrel of the Brexit gun, with our in/out of the EU referendum taking place next week. The tone of the campaigning has made me feel very uncomfortable, to say the least, with many, many arguments focussing on very thinly disguised racism, on the part of the Leave campaign. We are not an isolationist nation (I don’t think), but that’s how the Leave campaign appear, wishing to pull up the drawbridge between here and mainland Europe, looking down on the policies and nationalities of our neighbours from a very ill-drawn and shaky high horse.

I grew up in Birmingham in the 1970s. Most of my friends were second generation immigrants – Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Afro-Carribean. I loved the fact that our school nativity play was as multi-racial as I imagine Jerusalem would have been back then. I learned so much from my friends, our neighbours, the shopkeepers about different cultures. Yes, there were disagreements, no, it wasn’t all easy-going, but it worked.

On Thursday (yesterday as I write this) a female Labour MP was murdered in her Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen. She was a shining example of a good person (from what I have read), someone who believed that we all had far more in common as human beings than differences. She was passionate about humanity, about looking after people. She strongly believed that we are better off as part of the EU than outside it.

I don’t tend to write so bluntly about politics, about racism, about isolationism on this blog. ¬†But I am terribly worried about the direction the UK is taking, about the direction many other countries are taking, about the polarisation of views, about the insistence that there is no need to understand the ‘other’, because the ‘other’ can’t possibly be right, shouldn’t be listened to. Shouting loudest (something that seems to be the vast part of our politics these days) is not the way to understand, is not the way to deal with differences.

Compassion. We all have the capacity for it. Where has it gone?


Here is my early-bird entry into the lovely Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, where we are invited to write using the word ‘class’ as our prompt.

This was truly a stream of consciousness. Feelings in the UK are ugly right now, with the Brexit referendum right round the corner. It hurts. I don’t like much of what I am hearing.

Please do feel free to read – even better, take part. You never know where it might take you!

 

Under Pressure – Daily Prompt

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You could tell, just by looking at them that they were all of the same bloodline.Same open expression, same physique, same tilt of the head when listening with undivided attention. You could be forgiven for thinking that they weren’t quite human, really. Someone, somewhere, had possessed incredibly strong genes.

So, time passed and everyone knew what to expect of the Meyers. You’d met one, you’d met them all, so it was said. It almost became folklore, that saying.

But then, then The Tragedy happened. And then, then their individuality was revealed in all its, well, unique glory, despite the circumstances.

Mother was a rock. She was the one they all turned to, the one they leaned on, the one that remained calm in the face of unspeakable horror.

Father broke. He wouldn’t, or couldn’t stop telling everyone how horrible everything was, how they would never recover, how he couldn’t see a way back from the edge. In short, he just wouldn’t shut up.

Granny remained in her rocking chair, demanding tea and toast and a drop of sherry in the evening as if nothing had changed. To be fair, she was as deaf as a post and impervious, so for her, nothing had changed really.

The Children, normally squabbling over the slightest perceived wrong, united, held fast to and supported one another as if sensing that they were stronger together. As a unit, they kept away from Father, not wanting his instability to puncture their carefully crafted strength.

And Sister? Oh she was the sly, crafty one in all of this. Like Janus, she had two faces, the dutiful daughter to all intents and purposes when she was being watched. At nightfall, under cover of streets as mute and dark as the dead, she would slip out and take her chances with anyone that would give her the glad eye, young or old, man or woman. This was freedom and she feasted on it.

The Meyers? Each as individual as the flakes of snow settling on this iron earth. Don’t underestimate them. Especially Father. I don’t think he’s as cracked as he likes you to think.

Survival of the fittest, right?


Here’s my entry into the latest WordPress Daily Prompt – today’s word is Diverse. Please do check in here to read other entries – why not take part?

The image above is of an art installation in the Memory Void (one of the empty spaces in the Libeskind Buiding at the Berlin Jewish Museum). The installation was created by Menashe Kadishman and is called ‘Shalechet’ (Fallen Leaves). The steel faces (more than 10,000) are a memorial to the Shoah (Holocaust) and completely cover the ground. Visitors are asked to walk on the faces creating an eerie clanking sound.