Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Doing more than not enough

I see Twitter as a kind of meme storage device. Therefore often I will post Tweets of news stories I consider a 'priority' i.e. something of immediate importance that I think deserves attention. I also consider Retweets to be a gauge of whether other folk also consider your tweets important and worthy of attention.
It strikes me that what most of us find worth of attention are quotes that make us feel better; that make us see the world through new eyes, that reaffirm the truths we already have figured out.
The desperation of the world's poor, economic prejudice, conflict fuelled by our economies; these aren't considered important. In my experience they NEVER get retweeted; but then I don't have thousands of followers I have a random 600 with a hardcore loyal bunch of tweetery folk and some interesting newcomers who I enjoy getting to know.
My guidelines for following folk on twitter are that:-
  • You're not on a personal development pyramid scheme that wants to help me all for only a $100 or a $1000 or more become more succesful, perfect, healthy and the same as everyone
  • Your'e not a giant corporation or individual twittering on behalf of said giant corporation
  • You're not in the Tea Party or right wing anything
  • You're not an idiot or a time waster
It doesn't take too much perusal to figure out who fit into the above categories.
Of course if you are any of the above, I will be eternally patient with you and your ignorance. But you should know that:-
A - I haven't watched a commercial/advert since I learnt to use a remote control and especially the mute button and
B - I will spend a small amount of my time attempting to dissuade you from your chosen path on your behalf - not mine - yours; I have better things to do; there are worthier causes out there.

What I have discovered about Twitter is that a Tweet can save a person's life. I have discovered that you can connect with like minds. I have discovered that people love a good quotation. It must be part of our byte size capacity for using information as an escapist diversion - its feels good, its quick fix, it affirms that other people are like us; though sometimes when you delve a little deeper they're sometimes not, it's just that you both like football but don't mention health care.

I have been doing a little experiment to see what people's priorities are. I think Tweets fairly accurately reflect people's priorities; they are an informal log of people's daily or weekly activities that they consider noteworthy. So Retweets should also reflect this; my conclusion... ...my conclusion is that we are not doing enough. My conclusion is that most of us (not all us) have our priorities screwed. Well and truly superficially screwed.

Many of you know that cake is a favourite of mine. I often tweet about cake. The fact is most of the time I can't eat cake not if its got dairy, or wheat, glucose fructose or eggs in and lets face it - that's cake isn't it. So cake is generally symbolic. It stands for something I love that is a little out of reach, it stands for wishful thinking, for memories of happy moments full of friends, family and fun. But next to my cake tweet you will also find a article about genocide in Africa, or economic prejudice in Europe. You will find links to the stories that are absolutely crucial to all of our futures. Next to cake you will hear me talk about violence against women and children, about the insane economic bandwagon that ALL of the world's industries are on; the one that says 'It's Ok to turn a blind eye to massive conflict, industrial pollution and environmental degradation, not to mention the huge possibility of world immolation in the nuclear fallout from some random corporate human error/intention - 'Oh oops I pressed the wrong switch...' Oops-y-daisy.

But then those things are things that have ALREADY happened -we've already had 1000+ nuclear bombs blown up on this planet albeit in 'remote' places. Chernobyl happened and they never told us that they narrowly avoided a second explosion which would have rendered the whole of Europe uninhabitable. Narrow in that it was the observations of ONE scientist and the actions based on his advice that avoided it at least for now. That possibility looms once again - except they don't want to fund the 1billion for the avoidance of it this time - they'd rather pay 18billion for the hadron particle collider or whatever that is.
Please all of you nuclear loving folks out there, carry on, feel free after all it doesn't look like any of the big corporations or the governments are listening to any dissenters does it. And why aren't they listening? Because they can get away scot free, or at least they've budgeted for irritating court procedures ahead of time? Or because we don't care?

Some of the comments on Youtube - 'Why should we care about the West abandoning the Congo when we haven't even heard of it?' So the fact that the UN peacekeeping mission is clearly failing miserably doesn't really matter does it. or that four baby boys were gang raped along with 200 women less than a month ago. But it doesn't matter does it - because that was in the Congo and we've not heard of it.

Clearly the big corporations didn't care in the first place because this was happening when they knowingly bought the shipments of minerals, or conflict diamonds, or sold them arms or nitrate fertilisers or GM seeds. I'm not just talking about the Congo, I'm talking about anyone that knowingly trades with those who don't care about human rights - and that's everyone. All of us by our silent acquiescing are buying up oil fields for the next fifty years, drilling for more oil; open-caste mining for nitrates to make armaments and fertilisers to feed us on our deeply eroded soils and fuelling conflict to destabilise areas for the smash and grab that is the 'free market' - .

My soul is deeply eroded by all the suffering we are willing to casually stand by and let happen because its someone else's problem.

There's some strange collusion between countries that agree to the capitalist manifesto regardless of human rights. China, Russia, Iran sell arms to Afghanstan, the Afghani police being trained smuggle them south to their opponents; we also do business with China, Russia and Iran. Anyone failing to see these connections or the careful balancing act that is international business and politics and considers them unimportant is kidding themselves.

'It's the governments who are dealing with it; they're doing something about it aren't they?' - we blithely assume. The corporations wouldn't do that, (sharp intake of breath at horrifying details); our almighty God the corporation would never do that - they love us and care for us like we are their children; this is a democracy.' Right, it is a democracy of corn-fed fatigued zombies easily mollified by technological gadgets, fantasy movies, anti-depressants and low-fat ready meals. There are no Churchill's or Eisenhower's standing in the wings ready to lead us; the Martin Luther King's of the present are dead; killed by clever advertising campaigns and distracted by Machiavellian political slandering and concocted media storms; while the corporations act out reckless smash and grabs around the world - wherever they wish.

We are not doing enough. The future is being wrenched out of the hands of children via the neglect of us - their parents. By our absence, by our silence, by our willingness to accept the status quo, by our willingness to let errant behaviour go, by our watching as power is confronted and then returned to those who were absolutely irresponsible with it. You think a corporation is responsible because they have high share prices? You think a government is responsible because... well fuck knows what makes you think any government is responsible. Four years is not enough time to prove integrity especially when most of it is spent maintaining power and deluding the public.

We are so myopic it sickens me. We are so willing to be ruled; to abdicate our seats of decision, to give up our freedom. We have given it up - everyone of us that rents or buys property, or lays claim to one kind of passport - that's nearly all of us except for those Aboriginals, or tribes, or travellers, or nomads, or homeless that don't fit the capitalistic 'ideal' of conformist zealots - especially those who don't adhere to one place of residence, address or country. Oh those address-less people, those country swapping parasites - they are sooo frightening. You know who they are? They are us before we became domesticated - before we became tamed or afterwards; after our moment of disillusion, after the matrix came undone, after we swallowed that red pill of flagellation by the world at large - when we became one of them, one of the parasites; by default, by flood, by landslides of falling stocks and shares. If you have a roof over your head do I consider you lucky? No, I consider you naive - as one homeless man put it 'I just got here first, it won't be long and everyone else will come and join me'.

We are not doing enough. We are not doing enough because the suffering is escalating all around and we are tweeting about 'community building', 'sustainable lifestyles' and 'raw food' - oh wait a minute, hang on, wrong list - those are my 'Redpill' Twitter friends. The bluepills are talking about the temperature their Ipad's melt at, portraits of weird germanic guys with flamboyant moustaches and beards and fox furs on their heads, (oh it's Dave Mead's Magnificent Specimens exhibit which recently came to New York city) and the endless advice about how to increase your presence on social media, or business acumen... 'Stop wait a minute; YOU wrote that tweet - you, my favourite liberal Obama loving leftist who supplies me with endless links from diverse and wonderful charities and dogooders around the world; and your Ipad melts at what temperature?

Because the thing is none of us have really taken the redpill.

We can not escape our realities that easily, though we try. We try with cake, with discussions about politics, movies, the news, the latest catastrophe. The conditioner for our reality, is our awareness - it's our life lube - except nothing goes smoothly, its hard to focus, we don't ever know what will happen next, so we Twitter about cake and German moustaches and devote our lives to distraction, to entertainment, to our children, or our nearest and dearest, to control and compromise.

Even if we're the Aid worker up to our necks in deepest darkest Taliban crawling Afghanistan we're talking about acquiring silk for evening dresses and the amount of cosmetics on display at the local supermarket - we weren't to know, were we that we would be next weeks latest victim. Why do we do that; talk about these inanities next to dire straits?Because it enables us, it helps us to do what we can.

Dr Karen Woo did more than not enough.

(See Karen's picture above)
She went to a valley to help 50000 Afghanistani people to have access to eye care and medical aid; she did it while praising the Shewee that enabled her to pee standing up or in a moving vehicle. She did more than not enough while caring for stray cats and lamenting the idiosyncrasies of Kabul that mean security guards are given the leftovers of Westerners to eat (and they wonder why there's a security issue).

Her blog makes for fascinating reading, shining light into the daily life of westerners, aid workers and journalists in Afghanistan as well as the lives of the local people. Throughout her concern for others is obvious - she laments the freedoms we so readily take for granted being unavailable in so many places; she grates at the disparity between the affluent and the poor and the ostentatious ways we try and mould the natural world and the human environment to fit our idea of how it should be. Poverty doesn't fit and we prefer to look away. Except she didn't look away, she was compelled just days before her wedding to go to one of the most hostile places on the planet and help people. Compelled by humanity, compelled by the needless suffering of others, compelled by the massive obstacles facing a mother bringing a child into the world in the rugged environment that is Nuristan where there is the highest infant mortality. Dr Karen Woo was killed on the way back from her successful humanitarian mission. She was one of a team of nine on that mission who were killed doing more than not enough.

They are dead but we are still alive. We can carry on where the inspired have left us - our options; to be humanitarian or die, or to be humanitarian and die. There is no other choice, we are going to die any way - all of us eventually.

So I will continue to Tweet about cake and when I do so please don't think that my priorities are screwed, or that I'm a bluepill. I am a redpill at heart. We all are. We are Churchill's, Eisenhowers and Martin Luther King's-in-waiting; with the political. military and humanitarian will there just when it's needed.

Karen set up an organisation called Bridge Afghanistan to channel hospital stock from the UK that would have been destroyed to where it was desperately needed. Her work is being continued by close friends who are setting up the Karen Woo Foundation to this end.
The question is what will you do? Will you let them, who ever they are, decide our fate?

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