Anger is toxic, but it can also come from a good place. Compassionate anger. Anger at an injustice. Anger at seeing a good thing torn down. In these circumstances, anger can be used – not as a gnawing pain, but as a fire to get up and fight for the people and the ones you love.
Any illusion that the progressive left – or even the affable middle – may have had that the political right was going to do “the right thing” in either the UK or the US is in the dirt, and has been for a while. In the US, the same week that the Supreme Court eased gun restrictions in a nation where mass shootings are a daily occurrence, it also took away the right of a woman to choose what to do with her body, her life. What we are seeing is the conclusion of decades of planning and work by a galvanised right that absolutely does not believe in the freedom of the individual. Maybe there are those who think they do. The individual freedom to carry a gun is considered, perhaps, more important than the freedom of everyone else not to live in fear. The freedom of speech – of hate speech, of bigotry, of lies, of bullying – is considered more important than the voices of those who are silenced by hate. The freedom to pollute now, for individual profit, now, is more valuable than the future of the planet. The freedom to invade a woman’s privacy, and tell her that her body is not her own.
Freedom is what created the Murdoch media empire, which spews Fox News in the US – a channel which spreads lies and defends itself in court by explaining that no one could possibly believe what its presenters say. Freedom is what allows the Daily Mail to blame refugees, the Labour opposition, the EU, for basically everything, and to spout so many lies that even Wikipedia won’t let people cite it as reliable source for anything.
In the UK, our right to protest has been curtailed. Our right to vote has been curtailed. The independence of our bodies – Electoral Commission, TV broadcasters, print media – is curtailed. Access to healthcare is curtailed, by squeezing the NHS so badly for so long that I am now stuck on a three year wait list for a neurological assessment, which of course sends people private. Those who can afford it. For the first time in decades, life expectancy is falling in parts of the UK – the poorest parts, to be exact, while for the richest it continues to increase. Wealth disparity kills; this is demonstrable fact.
Now they’re threatening to limit the power of the trade unions even more than they already have, taking away our ability to collectively bargain for basic rights like a pay rise that isn’t even keeping pace with inflation, unlike MP’s own salaries which continue to out-pace it, or the rumoured talks on uncapping banker’s bonuses, rewarding the richest once again for being rich while the poor get poorer.
I once received an email telling me that this protest blog.
I find that a bit odd. Everything I say, everything that makes me want to scream, is demonstrable fact. Banning abortion? Historically proven to not lower abortion, simply increase women’s mortality. Electoral fraud? Not an in issue in the UK. Migrants working in the UK? Increase our productivity and give back to our society at a time when job vacancies are outstripping workers and inflation is the highest it’s been in over 40 years.
These are facts. These are truths.
It’s the right that flaps and flails and exclaims “but I just worry that…” without evidence to support the hypothesis. When I am presented with “evidence” it’s anecdote, or personal attack on individuals, or mood boards showing XR protestors as thought that means… anything. Or it’s just demonstrably false. Graphs that cite sources that say the opposite of what they show. Numbers that have been manipulated and are easily torn apart. Or the Fox News classic – just refusing to look at something it doesn’t want to see. Eyes shut, hands over years, not listening.
The right doesn’t protect individual freedoms. It limits them. It limits them in order to protect entrenched power. The power of the richest to not pay their workers properly, to continue to profit off fossil fuels, tobacco or guns, or to buy influence over politicians at £120,000 dinners, shaping our politics in a way unimaginable to the rest of us. The power of old institutions – churches, rifle associations – to keep the power they traditionally held. Because scarcity holds the mass of people down more effectively than any black boot on the head. Scarcity of time, of money, scarcity of resources such as access to healthcare or education, leaves people struggling and in pain, looking for any answer, any reason. And that part of the media that is controlled by the very same power that is keeping people down is very happy to scapegoat refugees, or trans people, or trade unions, or anyone at all. It is happy to say that facts are opinions, and opinions are facts.
This has not come from no where. For decades this has been on the cards, and here we are, watching it bear fruit.
A lot of people are angry right now, and so am I. It is easy to turn that anger to screaming and to hate, but that helps nothing. Instead, I invite you to remember why you’re angry. To remember that you have compassion for your fellow humanity, that you are blazing with injustice, and that you desperately want a better future. You are angry, because you want a better world, a hopeful future.
It is easier to fight, when you know why. When you have a vision, not of what you want to tear down, but what you want to build. Remember that, and get active.
ThoughtCo has a decent short article on things you can do, if you want to get involved, albeit with a US bias:
The Big Issue also has a longer article for the UK: