The hardest thing about speaking out is the fear of reprisal. When there is a significant power imbalance, this is a genuine source of anxiety. For the protestor who takes on the police, the person who goes whistleblowing about dangerous workplaces, the people who take on governments… you stand up to a system that might well give itself the power to stamp on you and pat itself on the back for doing so. Tyrants in the home will operate in much the same way.
This is one of the reasons why international human rights laws are so important, and why the Conservatives wanting to pull out of European agreements troubles me. I like to think that if I end up bleeding to death in the street, someone else will have the power to call my government out over what happened to me. We all need to be answerable to someone. We all need something that can challenge us, and the more power a person or group have, the more counterweight there needs to be.
In my soul I am an anarchist, wanting freedom from stifling legislation and a community that depends on honour and does the right things for the right reasons. Between the ears I am a pragmatist, all too aware that you only need a couple of really evil bastards to corrupt that kind of fluffy ideal. It’s no good saying we are answerable to our own consciences, because not everybody has one of those. It’s not enough to be answerable to the Gods, because frankly their track record on smiting people for acting out is not what it could be.
There is a flip side to accountability – namely that we have to enact it. There’s no point having a system if people will not, or dare not use it. Calling out is a part of the accountability process. Voicing dissent and manifesting protest is essential to make the system we have, work. And yet for the greater part we just shut up and put up. We accept infringements of our rights, we accept environmental degradation and species loss. How much of that is down to fear and how much is about apathy?
I do not want to shuffle slowly towards certain doom. I’ll go down fighting, not randomly falling apart as one more non entity in a zombie apocalypse. Every day though I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of causes that need supporting and wars that need waging. I am horrified by the numbers of vulnerable people continually being pushed to the edge. I am furious about the many abuses of power at all levels and that there are just not enough hours in the day to campaign on all of this. I want to be an army.
And at the same time, fighting a legacy of anxiety, fighting myself every bit as much as I fight those external battles. I have to keep reminding myself that I have rights, and that there are no systems in existence that are actually entitled to crush me for the sheer hell of it. But they do try and crush us all the same, and those day to day battles of survival are grinding lot of people down right now. I hear a lot, especially on facebook, about ‘you can’t get there from here’ philosophy and other people being forced into situations where the only options seem to be variations on a theme of lose. Keeping fighting in face of that is not easy, but fight we must because quite simply the alternative is to sink and go under, accepting being crushed.
I have fought battles I was told were unwinnable. I have fought them and won. They were costly, painful victories, but I do not regret them. When you are faced with living death, a fight that calls for your blood and pain, your tears and terror is a fight you might not even see the point in fighting. I am here to tell you to fight. Stand up, again, and again. Do not allow anyone to tell you that there is no hope and no way because this is usually A LIE and there are ALWAYS alternatives. Fight the impossible wars and believe they can be won. Fight your own despair. Come and tell me your tales from the trenches and I will tell you mine, and maybe we can all keep each other going.
The zombie apocalypse is here already, and you are fighting for your life.