You may have noticed I have not been writing much on Slugger the past few weeks. Since Christmas, my head has been particularly mushy, to use the medical term. Over Christmas, we all got that bug which seemed to be some kind of Covid/Cold/Flu mashup. We were not sick that long but for about a month after, we had this persistent cough, tiredness and brain fog.
I am better but still not 100%, 70% on a good day.
Combine this with the continuing misery of the world. The War in Ukraine, the threat of nuclear war, the climate crisis, the cost of living crisis, public services imploding etc. Every day seems to bring fresh horrors. It’s Monday – how about a massive earthquake killing thousands? You are scared to look at the news now. You feel like you are living in some particularly grim book of the Old Testament.
Humans are adaptable and we do tend to just get on with life but you do wonder how much more of this sh*t people can take.
I would be the first to admit I have it easy. I work from home, and thankfully, I have no concerns over paying the mortgage or feeding the kids. For those struggling, it really must be a miserable time. I particularly feel sorry for our health workers who have to struggle in a system that seems to be imploding day by day. Putting in 12-hour days in the medical version of the battle of Stalingrad is going to permanently burn out a lot of medical staff.
It must be particularly demoralising for nurses to know the Tory Government cares more about the ripeness of Avocados than they do about them.
The classic self-help advice in these scenarios is ‘put on your oxygen mask first’. In simple terms, sort your own health out first and worry about everything else later. While like is solid advice, up to a point, we have to realise that a lot of our institutions and systems are broken and need to be reformed.
The biggest trick neoliberalism ever pulled was privatising our misery. Oh, you feel bad? That’s because of a chemical imbalance in your brain, take these magic pills and you will be all shiny and new. People are waking up to the fact that it’s not all in their head. They are miserable because they can’t afford a home, they are working in a low paid job, they are fed a diet of junk, they are isolated in their communities, the education system tells them they are a failure, they can’t get the social support they need, they drink and take drugs to numb the pain of their existence. The system has ground them down finer than horsemeat in a french hamburger.
The one bright spot is that more people are waking up. They are banding together to demand change. Apart from the militant stuff like strikes, there is a softer revolution going on. People are reevaluating their lives and some are deciding they want to work less, retire or do different jobs. They are going ‘f*ck this sh*t I am out of here’. Once people have tasted freedom, it will be hard to get them back into captivity. Spend hours a day commuting? I am good, thanks.
It can be hard to recognise seismic change as you live through it, but I think we are in the middle of a profound change in the world. I am just not sure if it’s going to be some Mad Max Dystopia or a kinder, better world. It is a coin toss either way.
I help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site as well as running our live events. My background is in business, marketing and IT. My politics tend towards middle-of-the-road pragmatism, I am not a member of any political party. Oddly for a member of the Slugger team, I am not that interested in daily politics, preferring to write about big ideas in society. When not stuck in front of a screen, I am a parkrun Run Director.