Be Counted

By: Lydia Crow

 

I’ve been here before.

Back in May 2017, I relaunched my #OurGirlOnTheOutside column on ShiverWriggle, with a reflection of how far the western world had come (not in the best direction) since my previous poetic musings.

“And maybe, just maybe, I’ll manage more than eight posts in five years. No promises.”

I have now managed eleven posts in nearly seven years. This is my twelfth. Not great (though there were extenuating circumstances, to some degree).

It’s not surprising, though, that gathering one’s thoughts long enough to appear coherent and measured in a world gone mad takes so much effort. It’s all so exhausting, and it so often feels futile to resist the inexorable march of nastiness that seems to grow every day. But resist it we must, now more than ever.

A year and a half ago, I wrote this:

“But something in me says it is important to capture something, in some form or other. More and more, it seems like we’re living in a world where political haggling is the norm. Throw out an outlandish policy, then take a step back with a faux apology, and many people won’t realise that the planned concession has nevertheless shifted the state of play that little bit more. We spend so much time being outraged at the outrageous, that we forget (or are simply too exhausted) to stay saddened and angry at all these less seismic developments.

We don’t just need to stay incensed at the eradication of basic human rights and dignities, we need to remind ourselves of where we were yesterday, so we remember how far we have progressed along this path.

So Our Girl on the Outside is about to change shape a little. There will undoubtedly still be poetry at times, but it will now take the form of a scrapbook. A few observations and snippets of thoughts, or the occasional essay. Perhaps this is auto-ethnographic navel-gazing, but it seems important not just to try and record, but to try and reflect on these times in which we find ourselves living. I genuinely want to understand how we’ve arrived at this point because, though I can follow the path back, I still can’t quite believe we’re here.”

My views have not changed; in fact, my prior resolve has only been strengthened. Following Chuck Wendig’s recent firing from two Star Wars projects, apparently due to his behaviour on Twitter (which was public knowledge before he was hired: ringing any bells?), one writer posted some misjudged tweets pitching for the job. Apparently, this was meant in jest, and the offending tweet was later deleted (after initial attempts to justify it) once enough people in the industry highlighted the distasteful crassness of it all. What was interesting, though, is that the author in question initially used in her defence the fact that she did not know who Chuck Wendig was (fair enough, though she did describe herself as a life-long Star Wars fan, and he had written for Star Wars before) but, worse, that she prided herself on not being publicly political in any way.

This is what it has come to in these dark times: that people believe it is a good thing that they do not stand up to be counted against the relentless negativity that permeates our communities and societies. Some people believe it is a good thing to keep their heads below the parapet and hope it all passes by (presumably because of the actions of those who dare to put themselves on the line). There is a degree of privilege in being able to take this stance.

There are ways and means of making a stand, and social media platforms certainly aren’t tools known for their ability to be nuanced and encourage respectful debate: but to be proud, when challenged, of being silent in the face of what is happening across the world right now is altogether another thing. And it may not be too long before we all look back and wonder why we didn’t make more of a stand when we still could: if not for ourselves, then certainly for those around us whose rights and freedoms are under greater threat.

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