(First published September 2015 at wendypillar.co.uk)
I admire gardeners who carry on cheerfully posting about their gardens no matter what goes on around them. It shows a strength of spirit and purpose that I struggle to have. The dreadful things that go on across the globe sometimes make my garden seem trivial. I am unable to isolate my garden and my life from the world in general, or restrain myself from getting involved in politics, as anyone who regularly reads my posts will have realised!
Last night I went to see Woman in Gold at the cinema. One of the themes was how the civilian population of Austria welcomed and supported the Nazis. The Nazis were, it has to be remembered, elected to power, and immensely popular. One of the great mysteries of the whole Nazi era is how so many people supported them; after all, they were not a few thousand nutters subjecting a population, but had the support and collaboration of millions of ordinary people. When I see newspapers calling refugees ‘cockroaches’, when politicians talk about them as a ‘swarm’, when all those in power conveniently forget the role our military and economic policies have played in creating the hell holes of Afghanistan, Syria and other countries that are driving this Biblical exodus, and when the people around me, from my builder to my landed aristocrat neighbour, parrot what the newspapers print, I see echoes of this Nazi project. A race of people is ‘othered’, made to seem utterly different and unrelated to ourselves, scapegoated for society’s ills, usually by the same people actually driving those ills, and demonised. It makes it acceptable to do terrible things to those people, or just stand by while they suffer and die. Before anyone jumps on me, I’m not saying it is the same as the Holocaust, I am saying that a similar process is at work there, in embryo. Coupled with the organised and coordinated campaign by the media, all parties in Westminster and the elite generally, including the threat of a military coup, to derail the first prinicipled leader with a democratic mandate in my lifetime, these are troubling times. Us white westerners tend to think we are immune to the kinds of disasters, social, military and natural, that see people displaced and destitute in their millions, but we are not, no one is. Our approach should always be ‘there, but for the grace of God, go I’.
It would definitely be easier to live, and to make change in the world, without the present bunch of sociopaths in power, with a government on our side instead of always making us fight them. And we have to stand up for what is right. However, the gardeners who get on with their gardens whatever happens are right. Real change does not happen in Westminster, in international fora. They are just facilitating or fighting what happens in the real world: I read somewhere ‘If you want to create a new world, don’t bother arguing with the old one, just build the new one’. Westminster gets its power from us, as does the media, and if we treated them as irrelevant, they would quickly become irrelevant. And as irrelevant, they would have less power to fuck up people’s lives across the planet.
‘Be the change you want to see’, is also a favourite mantra. The important things in life are the people and environment around us, getting clean and good food and being healthy. Paying attention to those things and not what the media invites us to pay attention to takes power from them and denies them their messages about what we should buy or buy into. Repeated often enough, it changes the world.
So today, I am going to go into my garden. I am going to tackle the weeds that have miraculously taken over after just a fortnight away, I am going to harvest potatoes and pumpkins, and pick apples, plums, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. And then I am going to make some amazing food for us to eat. I’m not going to worry about the state of the world today. And I don’t want to see any more pig jokes.