I apologise in advance for the hypocrytical nature of this post. I try to refrain from using social media to comment on something so sensitive as I often feel that reading a heartfelt or impassioned comment just after I have seen a picture of their breakfast somewhat trivialises the words they have taken all of three seconds to compose. I appreciate the irony, but here I am, commenting, so if you just want avoid the excess, scroll to the paragraphs in bold.
One of the hardest things about living in Hong Kong is the dissociation I feel from my homeland. Sure, we have never lived in an age of more easy connectivity (for better or worse). But, there is a significant time difference and to be honest, I prefer face to face interaction (usually over a pint). This, I am certain can be attested to by my friends and family, who can go weeks on end without contact. In particular one of my best friends moved to Australia maybe 7 years ago now. I seem him very infrequently and hardly ever get in contact, but it doesn’t diminish our friendship at all in my eyes, I am just a lazy communicator when it is not in person. This message is to you, I still care! I still read the British papers online, watch exclusively British TV shows and I guess also mostly hang out with British people here, but it’s just not quite the same here; like some giant holiday camp for people that still wish they were students.
So this week has been disaffecting, to be so far from the solid ground of where I call ‘home’. It is with great sadness I look to the UK and see the pain and suffering that has been caused. I think about my beloved friends who live and love and have called Manchester their home. I think a lot about those beloved friends who have a different family heritage to what a growing ignorant and degenerate proportion of the population would regard as being ‘British’. I know they will probably see whilst walking down the street or hear in passing conversation looks and words which betray fear and anger and disgust directed at them, a judgement without cause or corroboration. That makes me sad.
I think mostly though about the family and friends of those who lost someone on Monday night. (Someone who was simply living and loving in their lives in a way their murderer would never be able to understand.) I know they must be feeling a sorrow I could not possible replicate.
After the news broke, I have found myself increasing falling down a spiraling well of Twitter recriminations and vitriol in my search for any sort of news regarding this cowardly act. Writing a blog, especially on such a sensitive topic as this, puts me very much at odds with my general feelings about social media and how it is corrupting the world we know. My experience with Twitter has only sought to strengthen these feelings. Just because it is easier than ever to shout and scream about what we think about anything to the whole world, does not mean that we should. Just because everyone is entitled to an opinion does not mean that it is useful tell it to everyone else. Just because you can say it does not mean you should. Whatever inanities people spout, their words and actions have a power which can be harnessed for good and for bad, it’s still the real world out there, on the end of that black mirror . Someone is reading that and thinking that and saying that and doing that. It must also be remembered that social media has illustrated a tremendous amount of goodwill, love and solidarity in the aftermath.
Usually I don’t find it appropriate to write about things like this, but this time a song has been stuck in my head which I want to write about. It feels very appropriate at this moment. The UK’s shores have been buffeted pretty hard in the last year or so. I have tried not to be reactionary and see every possible opinion from the point of view of the speaker, and the context of their experience. I think we can apply this understanding to people from all over the world. I appreciate I am in a privileged position of safety and comfort that a lot of them are not. Living in Hong Kong and seeing the wider world has only underlined that. We as a nation, should appreciate that we are lucky and privileged to have been born on that island. There is nothing that divides us from millions of others who live with suffering and poverty and death and misery other than geography i.e. sheer dumb luck. There are complex issues all over the world, that as a whole we will do very well to navigate, this is not the time of place to comment on them.
This time does feel more important though, a breaking point seems close on the horizon. For that reason the lyrics speak to me, both as a message of love and aspiration, but also as a call to action. I apologise for my self-indulgent comments, it’s not my usual style. The song is a bit cheesy and the video is an absolute shocker (n.b. 80’s fashion and extreme ‘dad dancing’), but the sentiment is honourable and good. As the aphorism goes, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. This is a time I think we must stand up. Stand Up for love and for compassion and for what you believe in. Stand Up against those who seek to destroy what we hold most dear.