Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Ashamed not be a politician?

Hi all, this isn’t going to be a party political broadcast don’t worry but as the US Presidential race is on the news and our own party conferences are taking place I thought it was a suitable time to write this particular blog.
I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, as far back as school. It seemed to be a passing fad (as when I was sixteen years old and popped into my local church to ask what I had to do to become a priest…that would have been an interesting turn of events, check my religious outlook on Facebook to see what path that would have led me down) as around that time I had no real interest in joining the local Conservative or Labour party as I didn’t think much about politics as a subject in itself, I thought about it more as a vocational calling that people either had or didn’t have, so for example I never considered studying politics at college or anything like that. As I’ve said before I always had an interest in writing and that if anything was the backdrop to normal life. However I can see now why I had the side of me that enjoyed watching Prime Minister’s questions, BBC1’s Question Time and generally keeping in the loop of what can easily be considered boring at that age.
The more I have focused on writing in the last couple of years and the more I have examined my interests the more I have accepted that I am aligned to contemporary fiction, modern day drama, coping with society, and issues that deal with what people are going through in the here and now. That doesn’t necessarily mean my writing has to be set in a realistic present day recognizable London but that those themes will be present. As I listen to the same old arguments that politicians have debated for centuries, the same old inequalities, the same (in my eyes) ridiculously outdated prejudices and countless other blood-boiling ignorance, the closer I feel to what I want to write about. At the root of all their talk, whether it is genius or drivel, they are talking about people’s lives and I know that is what I want to talk about too.
I am not a ‘writer’ yet, I am a novice but I think I am prepared to go out on a limb and say that the kind of writing I am interested in requires the desire to examine emotions that expose the unrecognized aspects of ourselves, the parts that we hide away (from ourselves as well as from others), the elements of our make up we know are there but don’t put down in bold on our CV…selfishness, jealously, spite, anger, resentment, ego, ignorance…not to say I’m a totally miserable grump (not totally…) as I want to celebrate all that is fantastic and beautiful too but I feel that I am drawn to conflict, not out of a physical desire to hurt but from an emotional need to control and justify. I want to expose situations where there is discord in fairness, justice, equality and happiness and isn’t that, well, politics?
There is an old saying, “All mouth and fool me trousers”, sorry, ”Fool me twice and never wear trousers again”…no wait, oh something like that anyway, and whether it is a politician saying it or your friend down the pub, it is getting at the core of this blog. I want to talk about politics, I want to raise awareness of politics, I want to champion my view of politics…so why haven’t I got the guts to go into politics? I do feel ashamed when I ask myself that question. I want the world to be a better place. I want my views to be listened to. I want to create. I want to drive. I want to inform. I want to empower. Yet, here I am sitting in my bedroom, on my laptop, wondering if I should call my protagonist Tom, Dick or Harry.  Shouldn’t I be out there knocking on doors telling people why it is so important for them to vote? Shouldn’t I be convincing people that they are in one of the most privileged societies in the world and they should use that privilege to make their country more democratically governed? Shouldn’t I be telling them how they can contribute to making this country a better place? Shouldn’t I be campaigning for things that are important to me, housing, healthcare, employment, education education education? The answer has to be yes. I can think of a thousand excuses why I want it to be no, and I will continue to employ those excuses, and let’s be honest, the most basic excuse is, I’m all right Jack. I’ve got a sensible head on my shoulders, I can cope with changes in my life if I need to…but the truth is not everyone can, and actually, what if I’m wrong, what if put in that situation I can’t cope…what if I lose my job and I can’t find another? What if I lived somewhere where I didn’t have access to medication? What if I didn’t have the friends and family I do and there was no one to help me when I needed it? What if…
Well, for a lot of the world those what if’s happen every day and I have to look in the mirror and tell myself I am doing nothing to change that. Yes, I give money to charity and yes I help people who fundraise and yes I take social responsibility seriously so I recycle and do all those little things that make us feel better about ourselves while making no difference at all on the international level.
So how do I console myself and convince myself I am a useful member of society? There are a couple of obvious things, I am a decent person, I do not commit crimes, I do not take advantage of people, I act as a useful and constructive person in my community. However, that’s taken for granted right? Anyone reading this who thinks it is acceptable to actively promote making other people’s lives worse probably doesn’t care less about the minimum wage or teaching standards in schools (well, maybe they do).
So that is my dilemma. Is it good enough just to be good? If we are capable of doing more then aren’t we obligated by our own morality and intelligence to do so? I know that we aren’t all cut out to be politicians, it is a hard tough demanding job and I praise those who dedicate their lives (very publicly) to their causes. Even if I will always regret not making a stand as a politician I know that I will try to make an impact in my own way, and for me that way is by writing. I just hope that I write for long enough to produce meaningful works that people like and make them feel better, whether that is through simply enjoying a story, or by making them question themselves over the subjects raised…that would make me happy. I may never earn enough money from writing to buy myself more than the occasional pint and a packet of peanuts at the pub but I want to know I have made a difference to someone other than me. Perhaps that is politics? I don’t really have an answer, this blog is more of an on-going argument I have with myself every time I sit down to write and I ask myself why I’m bothering. I will try to create awareness of, and debate on, social issues by writing rather than standing on the soapbox. Everyone will have their own view on it and there is no right or wrong, people’s opinions are their own and isn’t that politics!

I think I’ll stick with my own party rosette…or is it a daisyette?

Hour’s up.


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