a large or major undertaking, especially one involving considerable money, personnel, and equipment.
My comfort zone is based on words. However, in the past three weeks of lockdown, my comfort zone has been eroded as I’ve been projected on via what I’ve read, listened to, and spoken about. Covid-19/coronavirus/pandemic creates so much fear and stifles so much normality (granted, what is normality? Such a question is a different post for a different day).
I had written two drafts of blogs for this month (as writing is helping me process lockdown) and they were about disaster capitalism and sport, then ‘calling out’ passive academics and the higher education response to the pandemic. Alas, my power, capitalist, and patriarchal driven commentaries about contemporary society and neoliberalism will need to wait.
Instead, I flipped my thinking. Largely, because I was reminded by the final episode of Criminal Minds of a great poem “A Poet’s Advice to Students,” by E.E.Cummings. The piece is (oft. Quoted) on Pintrest, walls of schools, and in Hollywood narrations of times needing courage. I think it is very appropriate and pertinent to the current moment.
Western society and its dominant voices (e.g. media, politicians, celebrities…) are projecting many negative tropes at the moment: fear, sadness, worry, doom etc. onto many people. On the one hand, I am pleased to see that these tropes have been accompanied by many mechanisms for people to ‘cope,’ e.g. mindfulness working practices, Joe Wickes PE videos, or The Scouts #ThreeFor3. However, on the other hand for those who do not have the privilege of self-awareness or the ability to form coping mechanisms, what voice or freedom do they have from the harmful tropes? I’m mainly speaking about groups connected to youth, deprivation, isolation, disability, gender identity, or carers. A sobering thought.
My wish during this next week of lockdown is to be more like E.E.Cummings, who encourages us to ‘feel’ more empathy and sympathy for the most vulnerable, and during this time it translates as how best to support and reach out. Don’t worry; I’m not going to tag you in a challenge or ask for money. I mean support for vulnerable groups by considering ‘who can’t’ and ‘who don’t know’ how to express or adapt to lockdown for themselves.
My coping mechanism is to write and, therefore, I’ve written up the following examples for myself:
- Voice/faces: can I find ways to encourage mainstream platforms to reach out to different voices and faces, e.g. Joe Wickes is marvellous for families. Still, in my area, petty crime and youth violence has increased significantly. It appears Joe does not resonate with all families and youth. Can Premier League football clubs get athletes to do videos that focus on youth that want to see non-white, non-male, non-privileged faces encouraging productive and responsible physical activity? I shall write an email to the FA and Premier League.
- Writing in the first person: can I find ways to encourage responsible social media usage this week. I am more and more annoyed by the insistence of people to ‘share’ or ‘repost’ harmful dominant news or fake news headlines and links. I will call out and encourage people to write and express their opinions in their own words, i.e. in the first person. I will do this through private messages and phone conversations with family, friends, or colleagues.
- Freedom of expression: can I find ways to embrace some of the very whimsical but meaningful non-writing gestures of coping during lockdown, e.g. I am yet to put up a rainbow sign in my house window. Maybe this week I will design (and probably include a quote) my own rainbow piece, so my neighbours and local community see my expression of support. I am going to start my piece today.
3 x things to feasibly think through and do.
And you will probably be reading this and tutting, what does this – white, privileged, able-bodied – girl know about hardship or deprivation? My answer will be ‘feelings’… and how many times in the past week I’ve felt sad, guilty, anxious, angry, doom for myself and others. As I have projected harmful tropes and plots from the BBC, Sky News, The Times or Guardian, my Twitter/FB/Intsa timelines, or those bloody Government pamphlets from BJ. We are all living lockdown, but are we all feeling ourselves?
Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.
To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
My aim this week is to enact my three thoughts above, and also to continue to reach out to UG/PGs learners during the lockdown.
What are your aims? What do you project at the moment? How can you be yourself during lockdown? How can you encourage others to be themselves?
Quite the questions for a post bank-holiday Tuesday, thanks for listening and get in contact if you want to discuss further.