Political anxiety

It’s not a term or even a recognised illness, but I have self-diagnosed myself with just that. Since the campaign for Brexit, I have lived with a constant anxiety over what will happen next and “surely, they cannot do that?” – only to find out that every single time they did and they will and they do it over and over again.

Like so many, I feel swept away by all the things a certain president in a certain large country has been doing. I even went to a protest, which considering the levels of anxiety and panic I feel, is quite something, I still don’t believe I did that. But this post is not about me.

It’s about us. You and me, and that guy over there and see that woman there at the corner. It’s all about all of us. If like me you are a fixer at heart, you probably been thinking a lot on “how can we fix this shit”. I want to say, that I hear you, but like the lovely Sas Petherick would say: “You are going into solution mode, let’s just acknowledge the problem first.”

I think the whole “wanting to fix shit” was getting us into this mess in the first place. We look at a situation and see there is a problem and we want to fix it, we come up with a solution, implement it and expect it to work and are flummoxed when it just throws up a whole host of new problems. And heck, isn’t this just so frustrating?! Right, it is, we all feel it.

Take Foodbanks for example. Now don’t get me wrong, they are necessary to fix a problem, i.e. that we live in a country where people are victimised for needing financial assistance by the government either short-term/long-term. We all might find ourselves in that situation as the film “I Daniel Blake” illustrates so shockingly. So the government cuts spending on benefits and makes the whole process harder and more unfair and this results in people not getting any money, often for months. So, Churches come together and set up Foodbanks. Here, we are fixing a problem. Of course, it is important they are there, because without it people would actually have nothing to eat at all. Yet, with this we are not fixing the issue that a lot of people no longer think that anyone deserves “a handout”. And in turn, a lot of people think that those that are using Foodbanks are cheaters, that they are lazy and a whole host of other things. At the end of the 1980ies, nearly 2/3 of the population believed that benefits, allowances and general government spending on welfare should increase to help more people. This has now dropped to less than a quarter. From over 66% to less than 25%. And here is my thought of the day: if we cannot change that, nothing can be fixed with regards to these problems.

This is just one of the problems we are facing, but I think the overall trend is clear: As humans we have just gotten a lot less kind. We think mainly of ourselves, what can I get, how can I get X quicker. We are told that we should live the best life possible and if we don’t then we are losers. It’s evident in small things you and I witness every day. And yes my post from November about parking may be a bit tongue in cheek, but there is a lot of truth in that: If you can’t be bothered to be kind in the small things, then you won’t be bothered in the big things either.

Don’t expect any answers here, because I really just want to sit with the problem today and get “comfortable” in acknowledging its wider implications. We are just so unkind. Unkind to ourselves by holding us up to ideals and notions that we are shown in the media of things we should achieve. And unkind to others, by judging them on their behaviour. Trust me, becoming a mother has opened my eyes to that, so much judgement just around how you feed your baby when all that really matters is that you feed that small bundle. And yes, breast may be best, but do you really feel ok for shaming millions of mothers for making a different choice when often it is not a choice. And even if it is a choice, what the hell does one mother know about another?

Or how if you are white you will have thought “I am not a racist” when clearly most of us are, including me.

Or how it can seem like such a bother to learn the ever changing terms around people’s sexuality. It’s hard and uncomfortable and often I don’t know what to say and boy have I said stupid stuff in the past.

All these things are signs of unkindness that is absolutely everywhere.

I am not quite sure where I am going with this, but really, I just want to sit with the problem for a while. I have no ready made solutions, my days in trying to fix this planet are over, I shall protest against the injustices I see, but I shall be more careful with trying to find solutions. True solutions can only happen if you understand the problem from all sides not just from your own perspective: And I am just not there yet.




2 thoughts on “Political anxiety

  1. We’ve all said and done stupid stuff. And I find comfort in knowing that most of us try to be better over time.
    The journalist from the US who interviewed us last year usually covers crime stories (not us!). She spoke to a very busy NYC psychiatrist last summer who told her he’d never been busier. And the majority of people he saw were suffering with intense political anxiety, because Trump. So it is kind of a thing. Which we knew anyway.


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