What else

IssueApril - May 2024
Comment by Rebecca Elson-Watkins

For the very first time since I began this column in January 2019, this month I have struggled to write. There are of course easily 100 issues I could champion, each as worthwhile as the others. 

But I am tired, PN readers. So tired. 

When our leaders are not the personification of political stagnation (I’m looking at you, Keir Starmer), they are Tories veering dangerously close to the right-wing in the hopes of capturing The Gammon Vote. The fact that already vulnerable people are being thrown under the bus for their political gain means nothing to these politicians. 

I’m not as tired as transgender folx. I’m thinking particularly of the announcement on 12 March that transgender teenagers will no longer be offered puberty blockers (which ‘pause’ puberty, allowing transgender youths time to consider their identities without enduring distressing bodily changes) in England without being part of a clinical trial. 

NHS England has said there is not enough evidence that they are safe. Bull. Shit.

Puberty blockers have been in use since the 1980s. There are armfuls of research showing the benefits of this treatment, including up to a 73 percent reduction in suicidal thinking.

I am not as tired as people of colour. The Tories have taken £15 million from Frank Hester, the now notorious racist who said Diane Abbot MP (a badass and a pioneer) made him ‘hate all black women’ and ‘should be shot’. 

In a time when two MPs have been brutally murdered by extremists in the last decade, remarks like this are beyond the pale. 

However, it took days of the ongoing mainstream media frenzy before anyone in the parliamentary Conservative party admitted these remarks were racist. We are living in 1984. This is the age of doublespeak, my friends. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. We have always been at war with Eurasia. What. The. Actual. Fuck. 

Excuse my language, PN readers. Like I say, I am tired. 

I am not as tired as the people of Gaza. Every day brings news of further atrocities, while the world looks on. 

People are calling this ‘the first live-streamed genocide in history.’ And it is. I’m writing on 18 March, and 31,645 people are dead. That’s like wiping the entire population of Barnstaple off the map. 

Thousands and thousands of children are dead. People murdered in their beds, or in front of their children. Children in hospital, dying preventable deaths. 

Last night, al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City was raided by the IDF. Today, Israel has told civilians in the hospital and local area to move 18 miles south. There’s no provision for them to do so, they are just left to get on with it, regardless of age or infirmity. 

I cannot even begin to imagine how tired the Palestinian people are. Palestine has been literally wiped off the map. This is so wrong. 

I could continue. There are so many people, creatures and places that are hurting. Please look at what is happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South America. Remember that human rights abuses are still happening in China. And there is the small matter of the planet being on fire. 

Now, some folx might be sensing that I am a little burned out. And they would be right. I’ll spare you the details, but I’ve been sick for three months on top of my usual conditions, and it got a little hairy there for a moment. When I say ‘I am tired’ what I mean is: ‘I need a little rest and I need a little joy and I need to hug a tree or two.’ And that is okay. 

It’s easy to get swept up in the hugeness of the problems we face as a species. Too easy, especially when life adds its own troubles. What’s not so easy is taking step back for a moment to rest. It may even feel selfish. But it’s okay.

I say this to myself as much as anyone else who may need to hear it. It’s okay to turn off the news for a couple of days. It’s easy enough to catch up now if you like. It’s okay to read just for pleasure. It’s okay to dance around the living room with the cat and a healthy dose of reckless abandon. It’s okay to indulge your inner six-year-old and eat ice cream for dinner while watching cartoons. 

Get a little rest, get a little joy, hug a tree or two, then we’ll get back to it.

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