It takes a special kind of awful to unite us, writes Suzanne Harrington.
NOW that the 24-hour news cycle has hastened its pace to the point that British Iranian comedian Omid Djalili is complaining that material he writes in the morning has become obsolete by the afternoon, it’s very possible that we are all suffering from PTSD. That’s T for Trump. It’s only been a fortnight and we are all basket cases.
And yet turning off the news feeds is no longer an option. To do that is an ostrich response to the crazed tangerine velociraptor unleashed on the human savannah, all claws and teeth and a brain the size of a peanut. We can no longer look away. Pretending it doesn’t concern us is at best self delusion, at worst, complicity.
Equally, we can’t spend the next four years in a state of sustained freak out. (Unless we are women, Muslims, gays, refugees, foreigners … oh wait). Four years of daily raging would decimate our adrenal glands, etch our faces with horrid frown lines, and make for dull, dull dinner conversation — yet four years of humming la la la with our fingers in our ears would make us appeasers, colluders, collaborators.
Just like inviting a fascist to a royal dinner, or scurrying to fascist HQ clutching shamrock. No thank you. There’s got to be a middle ground between state-sponsored suck-uppery and hurling bricks through irrelevant windows.
We can manage our horror with humour. Remain alert to the unfolding nightmare, but laugh in its face while remaining doggedly resistant. Like those home-made protest signs — picture of Princess Leia, with the words, “A woman’s place is in the resistance”. The more straightforward “Get fucked, Wotsit Hitler”, and the classic, “We shall overcomb”.
Protesting might not immediately change anything, but it makes us feel better. It comforts us to know that there are tons of others who feel the same, and are not at home slumped in front of the news feeling hopeless.
The sound of 1,500 people singing in perfect harmony a very rude song about the American president as they gathered outside Brighton town hall, my adopted home town, was enough to raise even the bleakest spirits. Small children carrying signs “Love Trumps Hate”. All those people around the world, in their hundreds of thousands. It’s just the beginning. Life has gone Star Wars, and we are all in the resistance. It’s not dystopian science fiction anymore — Canada is offering asylum to US green card holders. Asylum seekers from America. In real life.
Cynics always say that if protest marches changed anything they’d be banned, but apart from presenting a targeted visual message — we don’t like you, please go away — it’s free therapy. Feeling helpless, isolated, despairing? Get out there, connect with others. Make some noise.
Shout things, wave things. Maybe don’t throw things, as this is counterproductive, but if you want to feel less impotent, more active, more resistant, hit the streets.
It takes a special kind of awful to unite us. And that awful has finally arrived.
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