2020: A Philosophy Of The Times
By Dawn M. Sanders
2020 has landed like a loaded jet halfway down the runway to hell – or is it two-thirds the way down?
Literally days into the new decade and without warning, President Trump drops a drone on a Senior Iranian commander. With no consideration as to the implications and continuing with the long tradition of pest control and double standards, the US seemingly thinks it can get away with ignoring its fledgling power and influence in the world, its business as usual.
The Last of the Good Old Days
I came to the UK at 24 in 1992 and lived in London for 4-and-a-half years before opting for Brighton when I was pregnant and homeless with my now 23-year-old son.
My London days were filled with making new friends, hanging out with a couple of good London lasses and going clubbing with my misfit bedsit neighbours in a dive of a little place in London’s Archway.
When circumstances got the better of me and I ended up squatting in North London, I got friends with a dude who stayed platonic, which was easier to just hang out and go to as many of the free festivals we could get to with whoever tagged along.
However, when I became pregnant with my son, getting out of London when I did was the best thing I could have done, despite being of no fixed abode.
Brighton was good to me and I eventually landed a grotty studio flat, achieved residency and moved to a nicer, more spacious maisonette with my little lad.
Being a single mum, hard and lonely as it was, I had found my kindred spirits and Pagan roots at last. Travelling, spending time at a quory protest site in a neck of the woods called Dead Woman’s Bottom, in the Forest of Dean.
A Darker Century
Wow! So I’ve witnessed the turn of the century and it has been like turning into a darkened tunnel.
I feel like some living relic more bewildered by modernity all the time…
The millennium bug was all the panick and I remember sitting on my own in a fairly empty pub, as everyone was down on the beach for the fire works to see in the new millennium. Sitting in Brighton’s Gladstone, I listened as pop tunes from the previous late 20th century played over the speaker. A new decade and mellinnium and there I sat on my own…
None of that mattered in the end, there we all were, no millennium bug and what a load of stupid humans…
The next year of course was the dark defining moment of 9/11 – who could ever, ever forget it?
The war, the protests, the lies and then of course the shadowy truth which many observing on the side-lines while politicians took us from night rades in the cities of Iraq, stand-offs in the mountains of Afghanistan to torture, had to uncover the truth themselves.
I was one of those political observers, as more of the truth was unearthed, the more I needed to know.
George W. Bush Jr. was in the Whitehouse by that time and I like other expats, was a shamed to admit to being American.
I had Joined Brighton’s peace coalition and the Truthout website mushroomed – based on the whole investigation into what was later found to be a conspiracy theory pointing to the claims of an inside job in years to follow.
I was fully immersed in my International Politics degree, having left Brighton for West Wales, a move I’ve regretted ever since, because the world was suddenly harsher. Small-town ostrecism meant unspoken hostilities from the locals because my son and I were, not just non-Welsh, but ‘different’ and stood out. My son and I may as well have been from outer space the way we were treated!
Highpoints, Intellectual and Political Growth
It was 2006 and I wanted to do field research in the Middle East, the place I had spent so much time reading about or hearing lecture after lecture on.
A flavour of it of course was when the lad and I travelled to
a so-called caravan in Morocco.
With a guide and translator, I made arrangements to have my son looked after and I was off to Egypt.
The experience was more than humbling, sobering and kind of bitter sweet.
I didn’t get on with my translator’s partner, a school teacher and spoilt western brat who insisted Egyptians should , ‘speak better English’ but we got through 5 weeks of the experience – including checkpoints in and out of Bethlehem along the perimeter wall, built by the Israelis.
I graduated University of Aberystwyth that next year with an average result which, was okay, because it was high time to get out of that hostile town.
Mistakes, Regrets and More Mistakes
Making all the wrong moves over the next several years was worse than being on any losing streak. I won’t even grace the two years I spent down the toilet in yet another inbred small-town in Derbyshire with its name, as after two weeks there I knew I had made the wrong decision.
A stagnant period of trying this and that – getting nowhere and not any younger followed.
Then I did the web trawl of needle-in-the-haystack grasping at straws and found a part time foundation course on offer at University of Sheffield.
What followed was me sticking my head back into the sands of academia for another two years.
I had decided to look toward advocacy work with my wealth of life experience and experience of the awareness stuff I had done so far at university and alternative forums addressing special needs.
What would become yet another move I not only would regret, but to this day plagues my life as one of the worse mistakes I could have ever made for my little family.
During the time I raised my son single-handedly, with alternative principles as a free thinker, the threat of local authority intrusion was never far from my front door.
In fact, when it managed to barge it’s way into our lives – simply from an inaccurate tip off from someone in a playground in Aberystwyth or disgruntled support workers who got too much mud on their shoes, stepping out of their comfort zone while accompanying us to a local festival, I had spent increasing amounts of time defending our position, right to be ‘different’ or, right not to “toe the line” when so-called professionals sized us up or made prejudged remarks about mine or my son’s capabilities or personality traits.
Sheffield, Socialism and Battles
When I left behind a council estate of unruly kids in the heart of middle England, I was desperate for a fresh start.
The only positives of the place, were a friendly next door neighbour and the fact it was only half an hour’s drive from my son’s specialist school, which meant he came home much more often.
Stupidly though, I didn’t make any manoeuvres to learn anything about Sheffield. Before going to the open day at the university, I had never even been there. But, in desperation to get out of small-town hell, bowing ‘never’ to live in a place like that again – I made the leap.
Maybe it was just the gipsy impulse I had leaped with when I was 24, new no one at all and had only visited the UK once, before deciding to immigrate – straight into the deepend.
I remember someone, a job coach at the job centre in the heart of Sheffield, telling me how, Sheffield was this macho kind of place – it was 2010 and he complained of how public services had been cut to the quick – I somehow never forgot that.
The 7 years I spent in Sheffield: trying to sniff out the need for advocacy, visiting volunteer organisations and making connections in a determined effort to move forward, were met with hostility of the most raw brand.
I was literally hounded by a social worker from the minute I set us up in a new home and everything I said or did was either taken out of context or scrutinised.
This hell ride became worse and worse – taking an unbearable turn when my son, who had been thriving at his school away from home, was ready for college and a change.
A failed business led me guess what, back to academia with the view to qualifying as a journalist.
Getting connected with Sheffield’s active Socialist party was a gem within poison pellets.
I did public speeches, got into the heart of our branch, helped with a policy or two and alas felt I had found where I had been politically all my life.
Keeping active in things I cared about kept me sane.
The Occupy movement mushroomed in the form of a makeshift camp in front of Sheffield’s cathedral and, their they all were, my kindred spirits, but it wasn’t to last.
In the final throws of my journalism masters, I waded through what felt like treacle, as the tit-for-tat with Sheffield became this psychological battle and war-of-words and wit.
I have since moved south, my son has lived in his own flat with support for 4 years, but the battle for our human rights and autonomy as a family rages on.
Ravaged by the battles of the last ten years, deteriorating health, worsening eye condition and overall wellbeing – life is edgy, a continuum of calculated risks and a struggle to keep the flame of hope alive.
Personal and Political Predictions
When I decided to write this, the intention definitely wasn’t to document this overview of the last 20+ years of my life, but that is what has manifested.
9/11 was the firing gun into this volatile century. The invasion into Iraq was the prequel to where we now stand – poised on the brink of yet another conflict born out of the first one.
The earth has not only taken a baking from the rath of humans and their lust for convenience, comfort and an artificial environment, it has tilted rightward on it’s axis – causing the backward flow of hate, nationalism and xenophobia, like toxic hot molten lava.
Upon moving to a small progressive city, I visited, researched it and made connections.
I did what I intended to do, which is join the Labour party (from the door on the left) but life progression has been slow.
At the very least, I think I have managed to not make the stupid impulsive leaps into hornet’s nests again.
We have been saddled with another 5 years of tyranny, austerity and a drain of power from common people to the ruling class.
My personal war with Sheffield city council is a microcosm of the constant political stand-offs or ensuing battles within our own little island nations.
So is it Mary Armageddon or jolly apocalypse?
I’m definitely not a Christian and certainly not your archetypal blind sooth sayer, but most tentatively the latter.
I do believe the world is rapidly self-destructing and will come to some sort of end in its current state.
What once was wrong: blatant lies, manipulating outcomes or imprisoning children because of their land-origin; glorifying in, or the celebration of autocracy, punishing the poor or disadvantaged – silencing whistle blowers, I could go on, but it has all become “the norm”.
By the same token what is now seemingly wrong: anyone with integrity, the will to help poor or disadvantaged people; a quest for the truth, reason-ability or equality and they are hounded and hated by the media. An advocate for the poor, injustice and the truth, will be choked by those he/she attempts to hold accountable or scorned by the very people desperate for help.
Maryanne Gordon of London, a good friend, describes this kind of media distruction or vilification as: “Scargillised.”
People will argue that Corbyn isn’t a victim, but I would argue he has been for the last 4 years of leading the opposition, a victim of the times we’re living in.
Journalism is after all, not just about delivering the news anymore, it’s about pitching from which side the so-called gate-keeper is on.
Dare I predict this polarising game will continue until something comes to a head – so will it be a natural environmental disaster, like some huge earthquake or the political fallout of a nuclear war?
There’s still so much I want to do: land a part-time job to support my freelance journalism pursuits, keep active making a difference, excelling within the Labour party and most importantly, give my son what he wants, more autonomy and a better quality of life.
So I’ve resolved to sit tight with vidulent insight as maybe we all should. Ending within the spirit of anti-sentiments belted out by Neil Young in ’89 on the cusp of a new decade:
“We got a thousand points of light
For the homeless man
We got a kinder, gentler,
Machine gun hand
We got department stores
and toilet paper
Got Styrofoam boxes
for the ozone layer
Got a man of the people,
says keep hope alive
Got fuel to burn,
got roads to drive.
Keep on rockin’ in the free world.”
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Top of Form
Bottom of Form