There are days when you should avoid people. Avoid them altogether. When the best thing to do is to ignore the alarm clock, pull the duvet up a little snugger and just tell the world to go do one. Unfortunately not having a crystal ball leaves one rather at the mercy of the fates and prone to doing stupid things like leaving the house.
Today being a case in point. It started rather well, although tired I’d made it out of bed without swearing too much. The news hadn’t particularly caused me a great deal of grief for a change and my hair was behaving. In fact, I was even told to calm down by the 12 year old for bouncing along to George Harrison singing ‘Oh my sweet lord’ on the radio during the school run, so I figure at that point the day must have been going fairly well. (Nothing more pleasurable than when your children tell you off for being too exuberant.)
Anyway, having dispatched the boys to their various schools I set off to scour the shops for discounted food stuff to see us through the weekend and with snow forecast possibly a little extra to ensure we could manage until mid week if need be. At this point I believe I was still fairly optimistic for the days prospects. Then I bumped into the biggest piece of successful Tory/media propaganda I’ve encountered for some time and all my energy and positivity evaporated. Puff! Zap! Gone! I don’t want to identify anyone so I’m going to be really cagey about what I say here. Tynedale is a very, very small place, despite the vast amount of land we few Northumbrians occupy! Plus the walking piece of Tory ideology I’d bumped into is someone I actually like and I wouldn’t dream of offending him/her.
Now this person is a poorly paid (minimum wage) employee, has had more than his/her fair share of health issues, understands disability from a personal level and cares a great deal about others but…the media has worked it’s magic and convinced him/her that there are hoards of benefit scroungers out there living a life of luxury at the expense of ‘hard working tax payers’.
When I challenged this person on their belief that the recent 1% benefit cap was wrong, I was met with a list of people that he/she knew who were scrounging off the state. Having children so they could up their income and jumping waiting lists for council houses. I decided to walk away from the conversation at this point as the real situation was becoming all too clear. He/she didn’t include me as one of the scroungers being on carers allowance and all that but still didn’t seem to understand that the majority of people being clobbered by this government aren’t scroungers irresponsibly breeding hoards of children but ordinary people. Just ordinary people, some of whom have very little hope left. There was no questioning of the figures the media had thrust at him/her as fact. No openness to hear the other side of the story. No understanding of his/her own contribution in perpetuating a system that is destroying decency. A system that is turning people against each other in order to protect the interests of a privileged few.
Forgive my ignorance and my despondency at such a trivial conversation. Of coarse I know people hold these beliefs but until someone voices them right in front of you, until you see the propaganda machine at work in someone who has had a difficult life and is at the bottom of the economic ladder him/herself and should understand they’re being used, you never fully accept it as a reality. That’s why my day went black. Why my energy shrivelled.
I remember twenty plus years ago when I was choosing subjects for my Combined Arts degree being depressed as hell as I had to take politics. Now I’m grateful beyond words. Like everyone else I’m subject to the propaganda machine and there are times when I have to pull myself up as I find myself falling for some piece of left wing propaganda that is essentially right wing but being used to win over Daily Fail readers votes. Politics, political philosophy is too too important. We need to teach it in schools, all of it. Every ideology. It needs to be made relevant, consequences, history, principles of government, ethics even and we need to do it at a younger age if we are to ensure that before people swallow the propaganda machines words they question them first.