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Equality can save us. If we remember what it is.

September 11, 2015

Iain-Duncan-Smith

We talk about equality whilst letting our media and public figures talk about refugees and those with disabilities as inhuman monsters. What does that say about how we really feel?

This one will get pretty graphic. So I’ve added a content warning for graphic depictions of violence and suffering. I understand why some people wouldn’t want to view them. I found it hard enough looking for them, especially when seeing so many pictures of suffering watermarked for commercial reasons (the link… I have no words for the anger I feel). But for many of us, it’s important we look.

I’m sitting home tonight and I’m writing a piece for a course I’m taking at the moment. This particular piece is on equality and how it effects other people. If you’ve ever filled in a form, studied it in school or at a workplace induction, you’ll have encountered the same dry text, where the answer is expected to be the same style of dry reply.

We’re meant to care about equality, about the basic common belief that there should be an end goal, a target we reach where everyone should be able to live comfortably, with the full list of human rights and opportunities. At at least we say we do. That dry repetition of the basic facts has sucked the reality of it out of things, so we let large influential figures get up on TV, or radio, or write in newspaper and tell us how we should say fuck em all. As long as we’re ok. It gets increasingly easier to believe in the rhetoric too.

There are failures on multiples level of society to blame for this, but I think it’s mostly to do with us being unable to fully conceptualise what inequality results in as a final, logical end point.

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This is the logical end of Iain Duncan Smith deciding people with disabilities can live without any real money because they’re a ‘drain on the economy for hard working families*‘. Of Katie Hopkins saying we should ship them back where they came from or else gun them out of the water with our military . Of racists saying the first world is ‘too full’ for refugees.

We don’t like to admit it either, but the semi lie of ‘media doesn’t affect us’ isn’t quite true. Whilst it can’t make us change our opinions of things, it can affect our way of thinking about things, makes us reframe them and become desensitised to it. So whilst you can argue that those saying what they say can be ignored safely…in reality it just takes those who care out of the picture by wearing them down and inducing apathy.

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Many people in the world don’t get a choice when it comes to equality. When it comes to safety from persecution. So you would hope we could be better. That whenever someone mentions off handedly how ‘maybe UKIP has a point’ they would be told quite where to fuck off to (Spain probably).

Maybe you’ve read the above and you agree with some of the points made. Maybe you are thinking ‘this liberal leftie** hasn’t a clue’about the real world. So let’s get some statistics. We could reasonably make everyone on the planet have all their human rights met for about a Trillion dollars. That may seem a lot, but the Iraq War has cost $3 trillion dollars so far. Apple makes just under $1 Trillion in a year. Worldwide we spent $1.8 trillion dollars on conflict in 2014 alone.

Think about that for a moment. If you can – it’s staggeringly hard to because the kind of scale being talked about is difficult to even comprehend. Perhaps it’s that magnitude – the realisation that in an increasingly globalised world we can’t hide behind the lie of ignorance, or how our actions affect others so profoundly, so some are choosing to double down on the lie, hoping it works long enough for people to leave them alone. It beats imaging a world where people are rationalising letting others due for the simple ‘crime’ of asking for help.

So I decide to focus on the positives of the smaller scale instead. About what inequality means. Where it’s lack of nurturing with this generation could lead. And how perhaps how people need to be shocked into realising that no matter how dry a subject may be, it too often has real world consequences.

*’Hard working families’ is a phrase that makes my blood boil. But that’s for another time.

**guilty as charged.

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From → Rant, Writing

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