Tuesday, 5 July 2016

What Society?

How the world can change with a X on a ballot paper eh?  Of course the world changed before that. . . it changed the moment we all knew that there would be a referendum on the EU.  Sad that this  appalling decision/amazing opportunity (depending on your viewpoint) has descended into this inter party squabble over who's going to be in charge next, never mind 'us', the British public attempting to work our way through the maze of lies and media bias, let's just press all the buttons and see what happens shall we?

Clearly all of the next bit is hypothesis, based on some known and agreed facts; but this is a situation created by one person's sense of entitlement...how they were destined to 'rule the land', it was just semantics how they were going to achieve this aim.   The hand might have been initially forced by UKiP, and their creeping (literally) infiltration into the UK political scene.  I mean even as I'm writing this, I feel like I'm writing the plot to some great Shakespearean play, or given the absurdity of some of the fodder that was fed to us, some epic Brechtian satirical masterpiece, with a simple message of 'be careful they're out there' at the end.

What's obvious now is that one of the main protagonists was playing this 'card' safe in the knowledge that the UK public would never actually vote Leave - it was the ultimate bluff by a deftly crafted jovial, political buffoon.  He just hadn't bargained on Feral Farage somehow being so charismatic that people of the UK would believe his lies.  I refuse to call it spin as that's too kind a word for it.  They all spouted their crap (both sides it has to be said), with neither side really working with the positives.

This was a country being wound up like a coiled spring, with none of the leading players stopping to look at what was really happening, because that's all they wanted to think about was themselves and their interests.

The bit that interests me in all of this though is that this political farce that is currently being played out at our expense feels to me, like a magnification of what society has turned into.  It's all about 'me', what can 'I' get out of the world.  There was once talk about the Big Society, but where did that go? Hell, did it really start?

The older I get, the harder I have to work to remain positive and outwardly focussed.  I'm beginning to see how people become cynical, and that's scary.  Our industry is full of people that have an inward focus, yet who throughout this tumultuous time, I see people sharing posts in disgust of people that are just doing what they've done but on a much bigger scale.

The MTA is a charity, we receive no funding at all other than the students' fees, so we do things like offer room hire to attempt to create a Hardship Fund for those students who can't pay.  The amount of people who contact me pointing out that they're  a charity, or they're just starting out on a venture, or they simply have no money so can we  help them? My favorite over the past few years, are the people that are essentially asking us to bet on them.  Give them a room for a reduced price now, and when/if they strike gold, then we will too, as they'll keep coming back to hire spaces from us.  Sounds too good to be true right? Well you're right. Those people (and I should add that a fair percentage of them are mates and colleagues, who know how much we struggle to raise money for the Hardship Fund) never return.  Maybe they've found somewhere cheaper, which increases their profit, maybe they've found somewhere closer to 'home', hell maybe they've just found somewhere better - but do we hear from them? Do we get a quick email saying sorry, but? Of course we don't. Yet those very same people will share a FB post saying that our industry is quickly becoming the playground of the rich.  They don't see that in their own way, they just contributed to that culture.  Their sense of entitlement to 'do the deal', 'make a bigger profit' superseded their desire to add to the 'big society'.

I seem to recall a time when our industry stuck together, we looked after one another, and we looked after one another's interests? I seldom see that now.  Increasingly people are out for themselves. Yet what I find fascinating is that in their own way, they 'spin' their lives via social media, so they appear to be outward looking, but in fact when you scratch the surface it is literally everybody just fighting for survival.

Regardless of what happens next, the country is now in difficulty.  In fighting has overtaken the greater good.  We're about to be presented with a new Prime Minister - 2 of the candidates have said in the last few days, that they couldn't write off the the suggestion that immigrants who have settled in the UK might be required to 'go home' (missing the fact of course, that they are already 'home'), with another candidate proudly supporting the fact that homosexuality can be cured? Bad news for Old Compton Street right there. I mean what the hell?? Our leaders are being applauded by the majority of the European far right parties.  Never has a name been more ironic - they are far from right.

My timeline and my FB feed is full of people sharing articles galore, each one claiming to have an explanation as to what's going on now, or why 'now' happened in the first place.  Actually it's rather simple isn't it? We just forgot to stick together, we forgot that the UK wasn't just London, we forgot to give people facts before a referendum, be that a Pythonesque 'what did the EU do for us?', or a 'this is what we're going to do after'.  Living in the here and now I see and hear people getting excited at the prospect of a female PM, celebrating that if Hilary gets in over in the US too, the women would have taken over.  I can't celebrate that as I read what the UK 'female' can't 'take off the table' right now, I heard her say that people's future in this country were no longer secured, I've read her voting record on all things gay (in a nutshell she's voted against everything including equalising the age of consent back in 1998, and in 2002 she voted against gay couple's adopting children).   I can't celebrate her gender as the bigger picture is too frightening. Let's not forget the last time a woman was in charge over here. Clearly I'm Welsh, so I have very strong feelings about the last time 'we' (the women) took over. Why do I see posts that even celebrate that fact - listen to what the hell she's saying!! Why do people think that it's OK to actively support the lesser of all evils. We should not be celebrating this news!

In spite of my blogging rant I refuse to grow cynical, I will keep metabolising my own feelings when somebody attempts to shaft us for their own gain, and I will fight the urge not to comment on their social media feed about their hypocrisy. However I can't help but feel sad about what we've become and why we've allowed personal ambition to overtake the 'greater good'.

In the tough times ahead, I really hope that we can all look outside of ourselves to support one another, and indeed to fight for one another, as opposed to fight with one another.  We should always be striving for a better 'us', which in turn would surely turn us into a better society?  So I'll naively (aka knowingly) keep attempting to help out people when they come asking for favours, in the hope that one day someone might return that favour to the college which would enable us to keep running a college that's available to everyone.

Meanwhile if you are one of the people sharing articles on the political crises with a running commentary on what we all should be doing to sort this mess out, firstly please check the date on the article, as we don't need nostalgia at the moment, we need today's facts, but then secondly maybe stop for a moment, and check that mirror, as you might not be attempting to take over a government with your own 'spin', but you might have contributed to the society that we currently find ourselves in, the society that let this situation happen.

I'm certainly not being sanctimonious in this thought, I also need to stand in front of the mirror and work out what I need to do differently in order to perpetuate small changes which might just have a ripple effect.  We hashtag #lovewins what if we started hashtagging #society? Better still let that love create the society - that way we'll all win.

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