Let me start by saying I respect your right to do so, if it helps you express your grief and outrage. But I won’t do it myself, for several reasons.
Firstly, I don’t believe that UK or European or US lives are worth more than other lives. I don’t find terrorist outrages on “our” soil to be more shocking or tragic or devastating than those that happen in other parts of the world where violence and suffering maybe even more common place. I do find it shocking and saddening that so many people, including people I know, think “we” are somehow better and more valuable than “them”.
Therefore, if I create a London or Manchester or Paris avatar, I have to do it for every attack that happens everywhere in the world. And they are too numerous, and it becomes meaningless. It is meaningless. It doesn’t help. Continue reading
This is a talk my mum gave about her grandfather at her synagogue on holocaust memorial day earlier this week. This is partly why it’s so clear to me that we all have a duty to help and give sanctuary to refugees. In the words of Pope Francis, “It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help”.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how it felt during the riots in England in 2011 when, as the violence, burning and looting spread across London and to other cities, the police stopped responding. You could call 999 and say “There’s a mob outside my house and they’re destroying stuff.” and nothing would happen. It felt really scary. The people that are supposed to protect the population just decided not to. It was suddenly apparent how fragile is the line between order and disorder, safety and danger.
I remember, too, a ‘Grants not loans’ march I went on as a student in 1988. We were kettled by police who then surged into the crowd on horseback. We had no where to escape to, because there were thousands of us and buildings in the way. I remember seeing a mounted police woman beating people with a baton, her face distorted with hate. I remember shouting “We can’t go anywhere! People are being trampled!” And they kept coming at us. It felt really scary. The people that are supposed to protect the population were deliberately trying to hurt us. It profoundly rocked my middle class view of the world. It was a shocking experience.
No safety net. Being under attack from the people that are supposed to protect you. Two short-lived experiences that disrupted my normality for a while. I wonder if they offer a glimpse of a tiny fraction of what it must feel like to be a black person in America.
My sister gave me a miniature water colour sketch pad and pocket-sized box of water colour paints for Christmas and it’s taken me until now to crack them open and have a go. My first attempt (above) turned out better than I thought it would, despite one of my girls grabbing the sticks part-way through. Even while I was doing it I was pretty sure it was going badly wrong but I kept going because it was fun. Definitely plenty of room for improvement, but I really enjoyed it and was pleasantly surprised by the result.