Thursday, 29 June 2017

The new radicalism for our time?

                              Compassion is the radicalism of our time. Dalia Lama

I've written many blogs in my head of late but the truth is i haven't written them down. They're hard to find the words for , the feelings too complex or too deeply personal to share. There is no doubt grieving for my Mum has had different shapes and impacts and I’m doing my best to accept that. There's a visceral quality to loss that's beyond words. What I also recognise is that there is part of me grieving for more settled and gentler times in our world and nation too. It feels for the last year that we've been in different, less tolerant times. 
I suspect  it's a time in history I'm struggling with. Maybe it is the dying throws of a society that cares more for money or things than people, and that the dark underbelly of global capitalism is exposed at last? What could be more emblematic of the failures of neoliberal philosophy than the Grenfell Tower fire and the unrest and distress it has resulted in. Ben Okri in his poem expresses this reality and the anger many feel so eloquently " If you want to see how the poor die,come see Grenfell Tower"
Perhaps it is the beginning of something else? I'm hoping that alongside these events we are seeing an awakening that's creating a counter movement that calls for change and speaks of compassion for others, whoever they are. 
Alongside living with the loss in my own life and in the churn in the external world I've also been trying to deepen my mindfulness practice. Highly charged political times can capture me in a very non-mindful place so in the run up to this election I was practicing a loving kindness meditation with some friends. We each found ourselves thinking of politicians who are on our daily screens. Those politicians carry our expectations, our woes, our ideals, our anger, our distrust, our "othering" of them so we can stop thinking of them as people but merely as the butts of our intolerance and sometimes even our deification which is often just as destructive. We expect them to behave with authenticity whilst coping with daily abuse in mainstream media and even more so in social media. Perhaps it's not surprising that each of us had found ourselves sending loving kindness meditation to not only those we would vote for but also the very people who we were voting against; we saw their need for compassion too.

As the results of the election came in, I felt caught in a maelstrom of emotion, which was not at all mindful nor indeed compassionate at times! But I was also very aware of the viciousness of the political environment and the impact on those who work in it. The politicians and their staff who gained or lost seats are embracing a very different future have a stressful time of transition ahead. Yes the knives will get sharpened for those who have created this perilous situation, and they should and must be held accountable, but are we not all also complicit to some extent in the system that led to this flawed democracy? The system of perpetuating and fostering anger and tribalism, the system that judges and criticises and seeks only to find fault, the system that doesn't listen or reflect but merely pronounces. This is a critical society and it's deeply ingrained in our culture. It feels like a poison.
Could we now be ready to call for change not only in the dreadful inequalities in our nations but as well for more compassion instead of criticism and foster the difference that emerges?  If we want our nations to change we each of us have a role to play. Nursing hatred will never create a better environment.The Dali Lama has said compassion is the new radicalism so we all have the power to be radical. 
We can create a different narrative and a collective vision of a society based on compassion and human rights where every voice is valued and every person is equal. What this recent election has demonstrated is that more people are open to change, we are no longer all attached to a neo-liberal philosophy. And next time we get the chance to vote-and it seems we might sooner rather than later- we need to be ready with a powerful narrative for a better society.To show there is another approach and help people see that. I believe we can and and that we must start now...

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Knowing what matters

She was the Queen of; 
the cashmere cardi,
the crossword puzzle,
the weekly quiz,
the one liner

She'd forgotten to eat
But knew us still
and knew the staff,
knew her new friends
She looked out for them

She'd forgotten the prime minster,
where had been home,
if she was married,
what day it was
But she knew what mattered

What mattered to her was;
not going to hospital,
staying in her home,
being with her carers,
being with her family

What mattered to her carers,
was seeing her happy,
it was sharing a joke,
or a tale of children,
it was to feel like family

She'd saved for that rainy day
and paid dearly for the care 
that created the rainbow
of kindness, fun, friendship 
and love

In turn she loved them back
and they grieved, 
shed tears as we did
when she finally gave up
her fragile grasp on life

So minimum wages and no sick pay
doesn't express the gratitude we felt
Carers with zero hours contracts 
proffered with zero compassion
deserve so much better 

She was the Queen of the family
she understood what matters
Do we?

Saturday, 10 June 2017

I had a new prime minister...

I had a new prime minister

I'd gone out 
just for the morning
And heard it on the news
Is this 
taking back control?

Be glad its a woman-
Remember Thatcher?
I need to know 
what she'll do
not her gender

She wants to unite her country
this disunited kingdom
Poverty and place
Power and privilege 
Are the hard borders of division 

A referendum
I didn't vote for
A result I didn't vote for
A prime minster
I didn't vote for

I have a new prime minister
Who will make me less European 
Powerless in my capital city where
75% of us voted 
to stay in the heart of Europe

Since June 24 I've grieved
I've puzzled
I've tried to understand
I've looked everywhere 
for silver linings

She's spoken of  governing
for all not just the privileged
So I'm clinging to some wreckage of my hope   
for signs that my fear is unfounded

And now ten months on
there's an angst
that is never far away
The linings are not silver 
just tarnished by lies

Now is not the time she said
Not in the best interest of the people
But then suddenly it is the time
for an election we're told
In whose best interest now?

I'm not a vicars daughter
I'm a miners daughter 
And I know deceit
I'm skilled at that
I know  whose interest it's in 
And it's not ours 

An election designed to stop dissent
Is not an election 
It's a power grab
It's a cynical perversion 
Of a democracy on its knees

And now the votes are counted
A parliament hung by duplicity 
A coalition of distrust
A country shaken, vulnerable
Our call for change still drowned out

But the call is louder now
The pressure cooker 
Simmering with quiet anger
The voices more confident 
Plans more ambitious 

I had a new prime minister 
But not for long