Sunday Thinking

Even on my darkest days, when all I feel is lacking, when all I’m aware of is everything I don’t have, I can’t even pretend to imagine the terror, horror, nightmare, fear, heartache – there isn’t even a big enough word to encompass what people caught up in the fire have been through, are going through, will continue to go through for probably all of their lives.

Home is supposed to be sanctuary, not tomb, it’s the place where we hold our loved ones close in love, not fear, it’s supposed to be the peace away from whatever struggles we face outside in the world.

This. Should not. Have happened.

There’s investigations to make, there’s analyses to be carried out, photographs to be taken and witness statements to be recorded. There is a process to follow to get to the answers and however long that takes, however much we recognise these steps are necessary, how is that ever going to feel like soon enough?

Speculation is rife at the moment, and because there doesn’t seem to have been a centralised point of information, all we feel, is frustration. True, those of us spectating this horror from a distance without personal involvement cannot appreciate what those in the middle of this are going through; this is not a situation we can empathise with because this is not something people experience, not today, not in this allegedly civilised country. But when we’re getting no clear answers, when we allow our press to bluster and blather and bullshit their way into every space occupied on our screens, it’s hard not to hate, point fingers, blame.

We need the press to keep us updated, not to invade personal tragedies. We need to know who is accountable for this, not through newsroom whispering but from those who have authority to speak on these situations. We need the press to report on this from a view of compassion and community, not who is going to score the biggest headline.

We need the authorities to speak to us. We need to know people are being heard, cared for, protected. How can people be anything but angry when it feels as though no one is being told anything? We need to know what’s happening, and it’s difficult to navigate between what people want to know and need to know when it comes to facts and figures on injuries, deaths, missing persons. But when we’re hearing the same figures repeated in our news, then hearing whispers from others telling a completely different story, it’s hard not to demand to know more, seek clarity on this nightmare situation.

We need to acknowledge that the poorest people in our society are being ignored. We need to understand why their lives are considered unworthy of just a little extra money to ensure renovations to their properties are done in their best interests and to keep them safe. We need landlords, social and otherwise, to provide homes for their tenants that are safe, fit for human habitation, not literal death traps. How is that a statement we even need to be saying; is that not obvious from a purely moral, humanitarian perspective anyway?

We need the alleged leader of this country to be a person. Not an automaton, not an approximation of what compassion is supposed to look like, we need to be able to trust them, see them in ourselves, see that they represent all of us. Whatever your political views at this moment, can any of us really say that we respect our leader? Trust them? Have faith in their abilities to lead us into an unknown future when they can’t even face these people who have lost everything in that fire? Who hides behind other people taking their flack, because they can’t handle criticism, and confrontation? Politics is not a game, and if confrontation makes you antsy, you are not fit to represent any of us, plain and simple.

But none of this. None of the bitterness, hatred, disillusionment, judgement, ridicule, is going to bring lives back. It’s not going to rebuild homes with a click of a fingers, erase the mental, physical, emotional scars people are left with after this ordeal. We can scream, and shout, and wail until our throats bleed, but none of that is going to bring those people back to us. None of it is going to ever be enough to console those left behind.

Sorry doesn’t seem like enough to say. Love not big enough to help. Kindness, continual thoughts, prayer, well-wishes; we will keep sending them in until they burst from our bodies. But right now, everything feels like it can’t ever be enough to help.

 

Sunday Thinking…

Today I’m thinking… that we just don’t do enough, you know? Not, we don’t chase our dreams hard enough, or are so busy we don’t have time for other things enough, though thinking about it, maybe they’re things we don’t do enough of as well; the list is probably endless.

But what I meant today, at least, when I started typing, anyway, is that we don’t do enough for other people. Now, yes, I’m sure there’s a lot of people who’d huff and disagree at that, listing all the things they do do enough of for people, and that’s great, really it is; we need more people doing stuff for other people. But the truth is, we don’t do enough, not anywhere near enough. Here’s what I’m thinking; I wonder how many of you agree.

Charity muggers, heart-wrenching TV ad campaigns, shock-tactic images in our Twitter feeds; constantly having people ask for help, ask for more, has succeeded in us doing the opposite. We don’t want to walk along our high streets and have clipboards shoved in our faces. We don’t want to have to skip channels because there’s a malnourished child, or dehydrated donkey, or any of the other reminders that there’s so much wrong with this world. The problem with all of these charities is they’re telling us we’re not doing enough: thank you for your generous donation – here’s a thousand other ways you need to be giving us more, and you’re heartless if you pass us by. The charity campaigns that don’t have us looking away are the subtle ones, the ones that manage to tug on my heartstrings without making me feel like I’m evil for not having the finances to help. They’re the ones encouraging us harder to do something, so that collectively we’re doing enough.

Celebrities, waxing lyrical about helping constantly yet living these lavish lifestyles we can’t afford to live ourselves; they piss a lot of people off, because how can you continually ask for people with less than you to help those with even less? Well, that’s tarnishing every celebrity with the same brush, now isn’t it? But here’s a couple of examples of celebrities helping out recently: Nicki Minaj helping a huge amount of students by paying off debts or helping with course fees on Twitter, and Stormzy donating a huge amount of money so a fan can go to Harvard. And yes, many of these celebrities have money beyond our wildest dreams that means they can donate vast amounts of cash that we can’t; but there are an enormous amount of celebrities that encourage by leading by example for the thing they care about – think Leo and his passion for the environment. Constantly encouraging us to take action so that collectively, we are doing enough.

But it doesn’t have to be about the big things, does it? We don’t need to make grand gestures to start making a change, do we? There are so many small things we can do to make a difference, and even if that difference is to one person, well. How do you know that by putting someone else in a good mood, by smiling, holding a door open, letting them go before you at the checkout because they’ve only got one item; how do you know they’re not going to take that little token of kindness and do something good themselves? Those small changes add up, and in doing so, they become enough.

I know; anyone who is regularly reading this Sunday Thinking post is probably rolling their eyes and thinking, ugh, they’re at it again; spewling about kindness being important, blah blah blah. Well guess what? We’ve got to start somewhere to make our world – our lives – other peoples’ lives better. So whilst I’m dead against having people shove positivity down anyone’s throat morning, noon and night, I will keep hammering on about kindness, because it’s important, it’s the most important thing we can be: think about how many unkind things you’ve said to yourself and how it’s ruined your entire day, and that’s impacted those around yo? Kindness for yourself, kindness for others, kindness all round; it is the foundation of how we get things done.

So, why did I say we’re not doing enough? That’s easy. Too often we listen to our inner critics and are cruel to ourselves for how we look, what we think we can’t do, decisions we’ve made. Too often we say things like, oh, well, I can’t help, but someone else can, or yes we need to make a change but I don’t know how and then get on with other things – guilty as charged, on so many occasions. And when we’re cruel to ourselves, we’re not helping us, and in turn, we’re not helping other people. We’re not doing enough when we do that to ourselves, so I suppose what I’m trying to say is, kindness has to start somewhere, even if it is to ourselves. That is how we can do enough, but starting that smallest of changes.

Alright, that’s enough social justicing (sort of) for one day; on with your own Sunday’s, I hope they’re good!

Sunday Thinking

It’s probably fair to say that there’s a fair few angry people around the world this week following the immoral, arrogant decision by an alleged leader of a country to back out of the Paris Agreement. When it comes to climate change, there can be no my country first, no prioritise economic growth, no serving the interests of our industries. Those things are important, of course they are, because who would deny humanity the chance to develop? But what will be the point in having all of these things when our very lives, our very planet is pushed beyond sustainable limits?

Climate change isn’t someone else’s problem, this is our home, our home. Not mine, not yours, certainly not the fools that are in power in countries who talk about doing the best for their people yet clearly don’t have their peoples’ best interests at heart. Climate change will not discriminate. It will not care how much wealth you offer it, how great your business acumen is, how many of your peers think the sun shines out of your arse. What it will do, is drastically reshape our way of life, strip us of all our achievements, and turn this planet into a husk, or waterworld – and we know how bad a film that was (other versions of apocalypse are available).

Now, I said that climate change is inescapable and will come for all of us, and we know that’s true. And though it won’t discriminate, it will likely divide us further, because those already impoverished, malnourished, living in places most likely to bear the brunt of whatever climate change with throw at us; they’re the ones that are going to be hit hardest. Are we seriously going to sit there and watch fellow citizens of this planet suffer more than they already are? Just so we can line our pockets a bit more, stick a pray for **insert country of choice here** status on our social medias and pat ourselves on our backs for a job well done?

Climate change deniers, I don’t know where the hell you’re getting your information from. If you know anything about the scientific method (I’ll presume not), you know hypotheses and research don’t come out of thin air, or get cherry picked to fit your way of thinking. Science is cold, irrefutable fact, and yes, science fucks up; we learn things and change our ways of thinking, only to discover new data that says oops, we were wrong, this is how we now think it is. Science is about learning and relearning a hundred times over if necessary; it’s how we grow as a species, it’s how we discover our pasts and attempt to steer our futures somewhere good, worth heading for. To have a future to head towards

There is literally no excuse for being uneducated about the things that matter in the way of our world today, not with the seemingly infinite amount of information to hand on the internet. Here’s a few things about climate change, in case you don’t feel like googling it yourself.

When people talk about climate change, some people argue that what’s happening with our climate now has happened before, and will happen again, with or without our interference, so there’s nothing to worry about – natural processes and all, blah blah blah. And yes, a lot of that is at least in part true. The Earth has existed as both so-called greenhouse and icehouse worlds throughout its history throughout the Phanerozoic eon – the geological eon that we live in; Holocene epoch if you want to get specific, and Anthropocene if you want to be really topical or up to date. Right now, we’re actually in an icehouse climate, though you’d probably picture a much icier landscape than the one outside our windows today (depending on where you live, naturally).

The Late Cretaceous (100.5–66 Ma) is a good place to look for historical climate change – natural climate change – because us humans weren’t around to be blamed for that so theoretically, there’s nothing to argue about. At that time, basaltic lava erupted through the boundaries of the tectonic plates that ran under the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and in other places there were huge volcanic eruptions of sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide – some of which was absorbed by the ocean, but also fair amount that escaped into the atmosphere. At this time, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is thought to have been between 4 and 18 times our current levels.

Now, carbon dioxide along with other greenhouse gases such as methane, and even water vapour, they’re kind of like coiled springs of energy. They vibrate when they absorb infrared radiation, and likely will spit that radiation back out for it to be absorbed elsewhere. Effectively, this cycle of absorption-emission-absorption forms a blanket – the greenhouse effect – that holds on to the heat near the Earth’s surface and keeps us toasty; we do need to keep warm somehow, so we don’t all freeze to death, just… not to the excess that climate change could potentially bring.

One theory scientists propose happening at the end of the Cretaceous, was that oceanic anoxic events contributed to a regulation of the Earth’s atmosphere – a natural, self-regulating process. Organic matter got ‘locked away’ in black shales, effectively scrubbing carbon dioxide from the ocean and storing it away where it couldn’t be used. And as the carbon dioxide in the ocean was depleted, more of it was absorbed from the atmosphere, bringing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration levels back down. Nature is good, nature is wise; most of it, anyway.

So what’s the problem with climate change currently?

Historically, as mentioned above, there have been periods of high and low carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere – you can see it in peaks and troughs here. But on the first of June 2017, the Keeling Curve compiling data from the Mauna Loa Observatory showed we’d reached 409ppm which is essentially considered a recipe for disaster. Think of it like this: that natural, self-regulating process we saw back in the Cretaceous still takes place today. The ocean absorbs vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But if global temperatures increase, that’s going to heat the oceans and slow down its circulation. And if ocean circulation slows down, surface water will become saturated with carbon dioxide, and the oceans as a whole will slow their carbon dioxide uptake. Negative feedback systems? Well, this would be it.

So heres some theories of what climate change will bring us. We’ve got the melting of ice caps which everyone already knows about. Won’t impact you? How lovely; tell that to members of AOSIS, a coalition of small islands and low-lying coastal areas predicted to be hit hardest if sea levels rise what’s really, just a tiny amount. These places are at risk of inundation, or total annihilation. And we all might be at the mercy of worsening storms, harsher tornados, higher risks of tsunamis, exacerbated El Niño effects as well as La Niña; you’ve heard all the apocalyptic theories that have been proposed over the years, but they’re not just things out of disaster stories, we’ve already seen some of the effects already start happening.

Climate change doesn’t just mean we all get a bit of a sun tan. It means shifting of habitats and therefore to biodiversity, changes to agricultural methods, scarcer freshwater sources, increased vectors that are responsible for the spread of diseases, such as malaria. Changes in food supply, worsening air pollution, which in turn lead to health problems… this list is endless, there’s not a facet of our lives that wouldn’t be impacted in some way.

Climate change, then, is a natural phenomenon, that was experienced by our planet long before us humans started springing up all over its surface. Carbon dioxide concentration has fluctuated over time, we’re not doubting that: what’s concerning is the rate at which we’re chucking carbon dioxide up into the atmosphere, and what the fallout of that might be – that’s barely scratching the surface of the things we’re doing. Anthropomorphic change is what we are doing to this world; from carbon dioxide emissions, damaging the ozone layer, pollution, eutrophication, bleaching of corals, hunting species into extinction, depleting the Earth’s resources: we don’t know for sure what’s going to be the outcome of all the things we do. Neither can we be ignorant, or complacent about it, if we want our future generations to have a world to exist in.

Sustainable, renewable energy sources are available, and not just the solar energy, or windfarms we hear so much about. There are in addition to these other, cleaner alternatives that people in some industries tend to whine about and say will never happen or be nearly effective enough; how about investing in these renewables, both at home and overseas in less wealthy countries, instead of turning a blind eye, adopting NIMBYism, or worse, denying there are any alternatives. The question we possibly should be considering is why renewable energy sources are vastly more expensive than those based on fossil fuel. Not enough profit, huh?

Now, there’s all sorts of stuff I’ve missed out in this typing splurge above, like, for example, the amount of methane that’s locked up in our ice caps that’s potentially going to be released into our atmosphere, further exacerbating the greenhouse gas problem. There are all kinds of other problems we face related to those I’ve mentioned and so many more; this is obviously not a scientific paper looking to be peer reviewed, because I have no hypothesis nor methodology to write out; all I do have is an unwavering love of this planet, and genuine fear that we’re going to destroy it. I haven’t planned this out in the slightest (as you can tell), but it’s taken me mere minutes to find credible, reliable sources for the information and links that I’ve provided; if you’re interested in this planet having a future, look. Please.

No one is saying the human race shouldn’t innovate and develop. What we’re saying is, how can countries that are already ‘developed’, point fingers at other countries and tell them how they need to reduce their emissions whilst doing little themselves? How can they selfishly, arrogantly say, well learn from our lessons but we’re not going to contribute anything to this effort because we’ve got our own economy to grow. How can we continue to take this world for granted when it’s the only home we have? How pigheaded is that?

We all sit here and nod when we see things we agree with on our dashboards. We all, from time to time, like I’ve just done, do some kind of keyboard smashing when something hits a nerve about the things we are passionate about. But seriously, us armchair social warriors, what are we truly doing to help this world? Maybe we should remind each other that by helping this planet, we are in fact helping ourselves; surely that will appeal to the egotistical natures of so many of us.

World pledges to save ‘Mother Earth’ despite Trump’s snub to climate pact 
Video: Arnold Schwarzenegger rebukes President Trump over climate change
The effects of climate change
Health Effects of Climate Change
Climate Impacts on Food Security
Linking climate change and water resources: impacts and responses
Poverty and Climate Change: Reducing the Vulnerability of the Poor through Adaptation
AOSIS
Climate Change Mitigation
NRDC on Climate Change
The consequences of climate change
IPCC
Why a half-degree temperature rise is a big deal
Elon Musk and Disney boss quit Trump’s business panel over Paris pullout

Sunday Thinking

…I can’t stop thinking, in fact I’m sure there’s so many of us who’ve got images of this week burned into the back of our eyelids.

Kids. They targeted kids. And yes, I’m aware it’s not the first time, and no, I’m not naive enough to pretend it isn’t happening all over the world in a lot of other countries: being upset about what happened in Manchester doesn’t take anything away from the constant sorrow I think we all feel for children being hurt in the name of war, terrorism, proving a point, and whatever other justification these bastards give.

Kids. They weren’t even all kids. There were families, friends, people out for what’s supposed to be fun. Concerts are usually these inclusive little bubbles where for a few hours you meet people with the same interests and get to share their lives, side by side, singing along, before parting again. It’s supposed to be fun, happy, and it goes without saying it isn’t supposed to end in bloodshed.

To the familes and friends of anyone caught up in this, I hope you feel our collective outpouring of love, because you’re in our thoughts, and have been all week.

We’ve also had the attacks that led to Martial Law being imposed in Mindanao, Philippines. We’ve had the hospital bombing in Bangkok, we’ve had countless other things happen that haven’t appeared in my Twitter feed and I’ve only learned about in passing. This week, so much blood has been spilled, and it feels like there’s just not enough love to give back.

But we have to, more than ever now, we have to give love back. Every time one of these things happens we have an outpouring of outrage, calls for retaliatory strikes that historically have proved to be little more than a cheap bandage over a still-bleeding wound. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t; how long does it take to stop a war? How much violence, how many deaths must happen before people actually talk about ways to stop it? How can we not learn that counter-attacks don’t work, ever, can’t hold, can’t work, can’t fix the mess that is us?

You can practically feel the Islamaphobia rising, just by scrolling through social media, and watching the news. We can’t… we can’t let these terrorists win like that; they are trying to divide us, making this an us and them situation and it isn’t, it really isn’t. It’s just feeding the flames, and they’re winning if we believe even for a second that any faith is responsible for such barbarity, because it isn’t.

Every time someone claims to have carried out a terrorist attack in the name of Islam – or more accurately ISIS – people start pointing fingers. All Muslims are like thisthey all want us dead, on and on, and much worse things are said. But think about this. Every time we who aren’t Muslim do that finger pointing, blaming, and again, much, much worse, these terrorist organisations that are butchering that faith… they win. Because the more we show that fear and hatred by blanket statements of all Muslims are like this, well. Aren’t we adding fuel to the flame? People who are Muslim must be so tired of the rest of us constantly blaming them for things beyond their control, or saying stupid stuff like… why can’t you do something about it? Tell me, how can the average person go up against a terrorist organisation alone – how can these terrorists not point to Muslims and say see? Other faiths hate us, this is why we’re ‘fighting back’? If we choose Islamaphobia, we’re helping with that constant hatred.

Faith is not about terror. Those that choose to carry out terrorism in the name of a faith are, frankly, cowards. How dare you hide behind a religion to justify your hatred, and in doing so endangering not only the people you are trying to kill, but also those you claim to share a faith with by alienating them like this?

I’m saying nothing new here. I’m suffering, as I’m sure so many are suffering, with I guess a form of weltschmerz. There is too much pain and anger in the world, and this week has taken away any kind of eloquence of words that would get my point across better – this has been written three times over now, and still doesn’t feel right.

I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to feel. But we’ve got to… we’ve got to do something, haven’t we?

Love, love, and love. It’s all I can think right now.

Sunday Thinking

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about fandoms. I’ve been thinking about what it means to be in a fandom, how being in a fandom has changed so much because of social media, and how generally thankful I am that for the most part, I’ve lurked on the fringes of many fandoms without getting personally embroiled in all the discourse and politics.

Fandoms, for those of you who maybe haven’t come across the word before, are the collective groups of fans for particular shows/books/films etc. It’s a place where you can squeal and get excited about your favourite things, and have other people squeal and get just as excited back. It’s where you share ideas, speculation, spoilers, go to cry on (virtual) shoulders when the shows do bad things, people show their art and fiction based on their favourite characters, and so on. A fandom is an amazing, welcoming, inclusive place to be for the most part, it really, honestly is.

What fandom can be, though, is toxic. People get passionate about what they believe in, and that’s beautiful, but then there’s another level of passionate that is frightening, damaging even. You get bullying – so much bullying; even more with social media than before we had it. You get possessiveness over the actors, you get people getting so into the idea that we own the actors that we can belittle their families, demand their constant attention on social media and at conventions, and get vindictive and destructive against those actors who we dislike – or whose characters we dislike.

Let’s give you some examples, in case you haven’t come across any. Just this week, Alanna Masterson (Tara/The Walking Dead) deleted her Instagram account after the detritus of the fandom bodyshamed her for putting on weight whilst pregnant. Co star Josh McDermitt (Eugene/The Walking Dead) quit social media altogether because of death threats, and some fans had the audacity to say, oh, well, the rest of the cast get death threats and they don’t quit – like he was in the wrong for quitting. And speaking of death threats, Melissa McBride (Carol/The Walking Dead) has suffered some really nasty treatment from another alleged fan of the show because, well, because her character is often shipped with Daryl, and she happens to be friends with Norman Reedus outside of the show, and some people just don’t agree with any of that at all. Guess what, if you don’t agree? It’s not your business. And you can just disagree quietly, or find a politer way to disagree with what’s happening, without being a poor excuse of a human being about it.

This example is just from The Walking Dead; this behaviour is unfortunately true of a lot of fandoms, and only seems to be spiraling. I could write chapter and verse about the truly nasty side of the fans of, say, Supernatural, but to be honest, I can’t be bothered to: these so-called fans don’t deserve any of our time, and the idea behind the SPNFamily is caring about the people in your fandom – including the actors and crew – and not being utter dicks.

On to another example of where fandoms can go wrong. Conventions are great experiences for fandoms, but can be so expensive to attend, and often out-price the average fan. I have friends who make a choice between having a yearly holiday and going to conventions; that might give you an indication of the cost involved. And generally speaking, it’s really, really rewarding being in a room full of people that maybe you’ve only ever spoken to online, but who just get your love of a show etc that your ‘real life’ friends don’t.  Unfortunately, however, you’ll usually find at least a few fans amongst that group that stick out for their oddness. And by oddness, I mean that their authority on the show must not be questioned, they develop a mentality of ‘to get to the actors you’ve got to get through me’, they have insider information, and so on. You’ve also got con-goers that use it to get in contact with the actors they don’t like so they can attack them face to face with their nastiness. Honestly; sometimes you can understand why saying you’re part of a fandom is a bit like wearing a sign saying I might be a little unhinged.

Online fandom at the moment – probably always, if you go looking for it – is full of discourse. Arguments over which ship is right or will go canon, whether the actors are secretly in relationships with each other in real life, arguments about things we have no business speculating over, like the families of those actors. Yet we do it, or we see it, and sometimes it makes you wonder; does that make us complicit in those arguments when we say nothing, just as much as it does when we get involved? Or does getting involved just fan the flames of these individuals who clearly are missing something in their lives if they choose to be so hateful all of the time.

Fandom is also a place where we hold shows accountable. Fandom is where we look at all the things a lot of shows seem to glorify – sexism, misogyny, homophobia, racism, gratuitous sex and violence, for example – and talk about why shows think that should be shoved in our faces, why we need more representation; why showrunners are wrong to keep giving us these outdated ideas.

Now, what fandoms can’t seem to do a lot of, or have had little success in doing at least, is actually influencing these shows to do better. It doesn’t seem to matter how many fans stop watching, or how many emails/letters/tweets we write; nothing changes. Now, sometimes that’s good, because there’s elements of fandoms that just bitch and moan because they’re trying to get everything their own way, and that is unreasonable. But when a show consistently seems to glorify the mistreatment/dismissal of women (Game of Thrones, Supernatural; you’re two I’m staring at hard for some of your choices), where there is very limited or just token representation of the LGBTQIA+ community, where apparently, disabilities just don’t exist (or again, are nothing but token gestures to say hey look at us; we get diversity, keep watching our show), the only people in the world are white, where hey, it’s still a man’s world and there’s nothing better to watch than virile men who always get the girl – yet, you know, only to sleep with, then discard of them afterwards (Supernatural, I loved you until recently, but you tick all of these boxes)…  what kind of message are you sending?

Imagine, if you aren’t in what’s considered a ‘minority’ of any kind – and I’m not too keen on the word minority because it feels like we’re alienating people just for not fitting a certain mould – imagine what it must be like. To have all of these TV shows and films and books available, but no one looks like you. No one has your hair or skin tone. No one is attracted to the same sex like you are – but everyone is attracted to someone, so if you aren’t, there’s something wrong with you. Imagine feeling alien in your own body because you identify as a different gender to what you’ve been born with, but there’s no one on your TV screen that’s like you, so it’s got to be you that’s broken. No one suffers from your ailments, no one has your beliefs; there is no one like you being portrayed. And when they are like you, they’re the characters that always, always seem to be killed off, or are half-heartedly written, or the butt of all the jokes. Or even more commonly, they’re the bad guys. What message does that send?

No one says a TV show, or a film, or even a book, is solely responsible for addressing all of the above at the same time, as much as that would be really, really good to see. But how about we stop making excuses for why we – and yes, I’m lumping all of us in here; showrunners, actors, fans, network execs etc – can’t be the start of something positive? How about we stop pretending we’re representative with our token gesture characters, and instead, flesh them out, make them living, breathing parts of what we’re reading and seeing. You know, like in real life, where we are diverse?

Real life, of course, has its problems with diversity, prejudice, and so on, we’d be stupid to think otherwise. But we can’t keep pointing the finger of blame elsewhere, or saying ‘let’s see what others do before we do it ourselves’ – and then jump on the bandwagon for it and try to take all the credit if it looks like it’s successful. We need to do something, and TV shows in particular can be such a huge catalyst for that change. We need more TV shows – and all their fandoms – to be that catalyst. How can we make anything better if we just sit here observing?

Sunday Thinking

Once upon a time, there was a genre of fiction called dystopian. Generally, this meant, our world but different, with nuances of our reality typically defined by a totalitarian or repressive leadership that meant the everyday lives of their people were arduous at one end of the scale, and impossible at the other. Think 1984, The Hunger Games, Fahrenheit 451 and others.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to push yourself into some lateral thinking, to ponder our society and view worst case scenarios from the safety of behind a page, dystopian fiction was where you would head to.

Aren’t we lucky to live in the society we do today, where such escapism isn’t necessary to contemplate what life would be like if it was our world, but different?

Just by turning on the news, opening our eyes even, every day, we get to witness and experience a smorgasbord of dystopian principles. Discrimination because of race, religion, sex, appearance, orientation, nationality – the list goes on. Leaders who seek power to benefit themselves and their peers, where the Proles can be denied things like healthcare because of any of those things above. Can be denied healthcare because they’re a certain kind of sick, have been attacked – mostly can be denied healthcare because they’re not wealthy enough to pay their way through the system or aren’t in the leader’s back pockets. Leaders who want everything in their vision, yet deny leaders of other places wanting the same things for their people. Leaders who manipulate, coerce, try to influence the way media and information is presented then accuse the media itself for bullying them when they can’t get their own way. Leaders who call elections at the exact time that is optimum for their party to win because the opposition is a shambles. Leaders that force their people to treat them as gods. Leaders who belittle, detest, despite anyone who is less than them, have no interest in what it’s really like to live in this world when you don’t have the resources, the money to get by. Leaders who deny there is poverty, and homelessness. Leaders who throw parties to celebrate the potential death of millions because of their convictions. Leaders who will lie, say anything to win, can’t win fairly, only win because of tarnishing the names of their opponents, leaders who-

Fairly sure you get the picture.

We have got ourselves into a situation that even authors with the cruellest visions for fiction couldn’t imagine. We’re living in a time when every day we wake up, there’s a new way to be prejudiced, discriminated against, denied basic human rights, something to worry about. We’re existing at a point of history where society has taken huge steps backwards, proving George Santanyana correct, when he said, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Only, it’s not that we don’t remember, it’s that we choose to ignore it, spin it into a different tale to fit our needs.

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How lucky are we, as one people, to have the ability to change all of that? How lucky are we, as one people, to be capable of doing something, no matter how small, to make this world better for everyone? We might be tiny, individual, mere butterflies in the scheme of things. But even butterflies can effect change; we can’t forget that, especially not now.

We can make a difference – all of us can. And I don’t know about you, but some days when things feel too bleak, look too difficult to deal with, I struggle to imagine even a happy for now, never mind a happily ever after. But we deserve one, don’t we?

Do good things, do what you can; for you, for other people, even just to fuck with those who are trying to crush us. We deserve better.

 

Sunday Thinking

Once upon a time, there was a crone. A twisted, nonsensical, twitching-eyed crone, who found herself in a position of power that she hadn’t earned, and had no idea how to handle.

This crone was a self-important bully, pandering to peers of similar class and opportunity, looking down on anything less as though it was something on the bottom of her shoe. So uninterested in helping those that needed help and instead favouring ideas and customs that meant even more divide between rich and poor, that even some of her followers began to have doubts (not enough though; c’mon, people, open your eyes).

This crone was not, however, unintelligent. Conniving, and sneaky, yes. Without heart, absolutely. But clever, nonetheless. For when those with opposing views to her were at their most weak, was when she struck, calling on the populace to formerly choose her as their leader, when the others had no hope in hell – no resources, funds or cohesion – to stand a chance of fighting back.

Now. The world around her, wider afield than her own fair isle, was in trouble. So much trouble, in fact, that it was hard to know where to look to first for signs of when the Next Bad Thing would strike. And this crone, she played her people like pawns, the perfect chess player, planning strategic moves several steps ahead.

What the crone didn’t realise, was, that even if she was successful, even if she did manage to win an overall confidence vote simply because there lacked anyone else to have much confidence in, it didn’t mean that the people would stay quiet. It didn’t mean they would be denied their voices, no matter how hard she tried to suppress them, and shut them down. This isle had been forged on wars and civil disputes, and there was an undercurrent of turning, just about everywhere people looked. Pacifists sat there on the sidelines hoping history wouldn’t repeat itself. Torch bearers ignited and incited, whispering things about differences as evils, that scaremongered, called meek-minded into battles they were in no way ready for, or even believing in, just following like sheep.

We can only hope that whatever comes next will result in a happy ever after, where people are treated with respect, quality, and dignity, instead of the rabbled remains of a nation that was once powerful, and now is nothing but a laughing stock clawing at the rest of the world for survival, being kicked away like a street urging scrabbling at its heels.

Sunday Thinking

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(Pixabay)

Once upon a time, there was a planet. A beautiful blue-green dot in the vastness of space, going about its business as the third rock from the sun.

This world saw many changes. Its landmasses contorted and formed over millennia, warping through Pangea, Gondwanaland and many other named-faces, converging and diverging along plates, scarring and puckering, reforming through volcanoes and earthquakes, but always beautiful.

Its atmospheric composition changed, from its early hydrogen/water/methane/carbon oxides, through various other combinations, before ‘settling’ on nitrogen/argon/oxygen – making it possible for living things to start to populate its various lands – under the protection of an ozone layer, of course.

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(Pixabay)

It has known ice ages and interglacials, been a greenhouse and an icehouse world, survived meteors and comets, solar radiation, more extinction than it’s known new species; and yet it goes on, strives to keep going, keeping itself alive, if you’re a Gaia theorist.

Earth, with its solid core, liquid mantle, shifting crust, has been through so much. It’s survived around 4.5 billion years without our interference. We’ve been here barely the blink of an eye, in the scheme of things, and look what we’ve done to it. And for those who say climate change is a natural phenomenon; yes it is. It’s not that we’ve invented climate change like it’s a brand new, shiny gadget; it’s the rate at which we’re changing it that’s alarming.

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(Pixabay)

Isn’t it funny how so many of the naysayers, the climate change deniers, are those with vested interests in industries doing the most harm? Isn’t it bemusing how western countries that know how much damage fossil fuel consumption does, points the finger of blame at nations who are just going through an industrial revolution that we’ve already been through, yet look away when anyone talks of helping those countries with renewable energy sources?

No. Actually, it isn’t. It’s not funny, bemusing, or someone else’s problem. Climate change denial is the ultimate form of NIMBYism. Ah, we’ll be fine; we have the technology to deal with whatever comesYou might, sure, but maybe you want to talk to one of the alliance of AOSIS, those nations that would be hit first, that might disappear altogether, if the global climate rises just a tiny amount.

And by the way, it does impact you. You don’t think any amount of money is going to stop increased severe weather events coming to your doorstep, do you? You don’t think that it’s not going to hit your pockets when we ignore what’s happening, when you have to start paying, oh, you know. Increased taxes to cover the cost of constant infrastructure renewal, for example. Increased health insurance because our skin’s just not tolerant of constant exposure to the sun – and skin cancer’s no longer covered, because hey, everyone’s got it. Increased cost of water if/when potable water starts becoming – already is an outpriced, unobtainable commodity for far too many people (… Flint…). When the cost of fuel becomes too extortionate because there’s just not enough left to run all of our vehicles.

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(Pixabay)

Last week saw the March For Science on Earth Day. We have science champions who know what they’re talking about telling us this is happening – that politicians choose to ignore, tell them they have no place in politics. We’ve grown in awareness for so many of our problems, and yet we also seem to have grown in our stupidity; particularly for things like the very real issue we are facing with climate change. Do we have the technology to move to another planet when we’ve killed this one off? Not yet – and even if we did, that’s no excuse. This is our home.

No one’s saying we shouldn’t advance as a species. What we should do, is look to methods of sustainable growth, so that future generations have a planet to actually exist on. No one’s denying that we need energy to power our societies; we need to find a way to make renewable energy sources affordable, reliable, viable, even.

No one is saying the onus is on one single individual, or nation. But if single nations can decide how the rest of the world lives by flexing their political, or military muscles, why can they not do the same to help our environment? Hey, politicians, you get into politics for personal gain, don’t you? How about thinking of the environment like this; it is personal gain. Because if you protect our environment, you’re saving yourself – and your future generations to continue dictating this planet (on second thoughts…).

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(Pixabay)

This planet deserves a happy ever after, and it existed quite happily before we became a stain on its surface. If we push the climate to the point where life is no longer sustainable here, this planet will continue existing, right up until the sun goes out in about five billion years from now. It doesn’t need us, but we need it; there’s a reason it’s called Mother Earth.

Sunday Thinking

Once upon a time… I was a Tigger. Bouncy, excitable, tending to make people back up a little for my enthusiasm with things. And that was fine; I was happy enough in my own head, in my own little world. At least, I’d tell myself that. Tigger on the outside, Eeyore within.

I’m reasonably sure that a lot of people identify with that feeling. Putting on a brave face, or a ‘happy’ face for those around when you feel anything but. You don’t want to talk about whatever’s wrong – you’re not even sure what’s wrong; you just feel out of step with the world, and most things in it.

Of course, not every day is like that. Not every day is a struggle to do simple things like, oh, I don’t know. Shower. Change clothes. Make yourself ‘presentable’ for the outside world – putting on your armour, which doesn’t have to be wrought and gelded, it can be denim, and plaid, flower-printed and band-named.

It’s not every day that the simple act of talking to people, making eye contact, or answering messages is impossible. It’s not every day that you have to rehearse conversations, rewrite answers to messages on Whatsapp. Not every day when people don’t roll their eyes and tell you to ‘make more effort’ – can’t you see we’re trying to??

It’s not even every day that things like intrusive thoughts win the conversations you have with yourself. Not every day you can’t shrug it off, work your way through it, feel okay for once. But it’s typically those days, when you tell yourself you’re an attention-seeker, and that everything’s just in your head; it’s on those days you forget the wise words of Dumbledore: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

These days, I’m often just plain old Eeyore. Maudlin. Gloomy. Terrible at the human contact thing. And as for the world around us, it does nothing but add to my Eeyore-iness. Does that mean I’m broken? Probably. Stuck for what to say? At times. Lost? Very. But you know what? Broken means something can be fixed. Words, can be found. As can people, however lost they might be.

To those of you who don’t relate to any of this, but perhaps know someone that is, please don’t dismiss them. No one is telling you not to give up on them, because as much as that would be nice, you have just as much right to be happy and good with your life, free of things that drag you down, as those who don’t believe they do. Neither is anyone saying you must have infinite patience; believe me, those of us lost in our own heads tend to be past the point of patience with ourselves as well. Just… don’t dismiss them.

You know what one of the great things about Eeyore is? His friends recognised what was happening with him, yet still treated Eeyore the same as ever. Still invited him to things, included him in what they were doing – even though Eeyore was often reluctant, generally he went along with what they were doing anyway; because Eeyore hated being alone, even if his behaviour said otherwise at times. And, would you look at that; often Eeyore smiled.

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(via Giphy)

From this Eeyore to other Eeyores out there, I don’t know what your bee stings are, and please don’t think I’m trying to take your tail – that’s no fun for any of us. I wish we could have an all day long picnic in a park, with a bridge over a stream running all the way through it, where we could play poohsticks and be gloomy together (…maybe that’s what the internet is…). In silence if necessary, if it’s a day when none of us feel like talking.

And for all the friends of Eeyores out there; we don’t mean to disappear on you. We love when you support us, and understand when you can’t; we’d just like to say thank you for being there in our hundred acre woods.

Sunday Thinking

Once upon a time, it was possible to turn on the news to keep yourself informed, and though the world has been forever messed up, when the news was over, it would invariably end with a story about a skateboarding squirrel, or a surfing Labrador, or some other, cutesy thing that would put a smile on our faces even when we turned away from our screens and looked back into the often-awfulness that is our world.

The news format changed. Gone are the skateboarding squirrels (although we’re fairly sure they still exist out there), and in its place is PANICPANICPANIC; death, doom, destruction, to the point where every time the news comes on, it’s like our living rooms have been invaded with demontors and we’ve all forgotten how to summon our patronuses

Now, the world is currently a horrible place. We have nation leaders intent on running said nations as though they’re playing a real life version of a bastardisation of Monopoly and Risk. We have individuals so ignorant, that they would allow their image to be used to front an advertising campaign for a company who seem to think it’s okay to profit from real life problems faced by real life people. We have airlines who think brute force is the way to deal with their own mistakes of overbooking. Real life sucks, in just about every way imaginable, and sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed for fear of what bad news we’ll hear today. And hey! By the time this posts, we might have already started WWIII…

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To quote John Lennon: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one, I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.” Now, I don’t always believe this; in fact, with everything that’s going on, I’m having trouble believing it’s worth inhaling another breath. My own dark clouds descending at regular intervals, shrouding me in unpleasantness with or without the shittiness in the news. But despite, or in spite of that, I do believe in kindness. I do believe we’re better together than we are apart. And I do believe that all this current hatred and negativity in the world isn’t helping us one bit. (no shit, Sherlock…) That we have to keep strong, keep fighting, get better at existing.

We’ve got a history tainted with death and destruction, and our present is rife with it; don’t we deserve a happily ever after?