I wrote this piece, about my relationship to keeping up with current events, a year ago. Not much has changed since.
After the anti-Poll Tax demonstration of March 1990, I gave up on newspapers, after the sole accurate source on what happened, out of all the print media in the UK, was Spare Rib.
After 9/11 I gave up on BBC radio news, as more and more coverage became about asking how people felt about events, deflecting attention from the events themselves, and as the years have gone by, veering further and further into government propaganda.
Over the past few years I have gathered my information about events around the world from social media. During the Arab Spring I received most of my news from individuals living in Egypt and Tunisia on Twitter. During 2016 especially, with the Brexit referendum and the US presidential elections, most of my news came from Facebook.
And it became overwhelming.
So now I don't watch or hear current events in the world, unless I choose to. I know this can only be a temporary measure -- although I've been keeping to it for a year so far. I know that in some ways it is cowardice: protecting my heart by abandoning the struggle.
But I also firmly believe that creating the world I want to live in is the most important political work I can do, and I cannot do that if I feel overwhelmed and helpless.
Think global, act local has never been more needed, and nor has this quote from Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman:
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
I have never known fully what that is for myself, but I know it has to do with cultivating a quality of spaciousness, of patience, and of acceptance of what is; deepening my roots, and bringing my awareness back to right here, right now.
It has to do with doing things together: in mutuality, in solidarity, and in community -- with other humans, and in partnership and with regard for the more-than-human, all-species web of Life of which we are all part.
It has to do with looking to the future, and creating, not reacting in defence against current events.
Yes, we absolutely need to protect ourselves and one another from the bullshit that is coming at us right now, from so many directions. And we need to give our nervous systems a break, and be with our own feelings and thoughts.
We need to discern what we want, now and for the future, and how we are going to create it, together.
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