Dear Facebook (4th September 2015)

Dear Facebook,

As I read through my newsfeed today, I notice several of my friends (some who are more acquaintances, really) are perturbed by all the pictures of Aylan Kurdi that were flying all over the Internet. As someone who shared no fewer than 4 pictures of Aylan yesterday, allow me to address those of you who find this distasteful.

1) I’ve no idea if anyone shared pictures of Aylan in, for example, meme form. Certainly I did not; and I could see how such a use of his picture could be construed as distasteful. I didn’t personally see anything of that nature.

2) Each picture I shared was either the header for an article, a petition, or a link to email your MP, each addressing the refugee crisis. Most, if not all, contained links whereby readers could donate money or learn about donating goods, if they wanted to tackle the problem in a practical way.

3) The reason I shared so many different (4–is 4 “so many”?) posts on the subject, was so that everyone who wanted to, could chip in. As a member of one particular organization whose petition I shared, I could sign, but non-members cannot. I shared that petition for other members who might see it; then I shared the other petition for everyone else. I shared the link to email one’s MP because everyone can do that; but since some people believe that’s about as much use as talking to the actual buildings of Parliament, well, those people can sign the petitions, OR just follow the links and donate some money. The first article I shared, was about how to address the refugee crisis (as in, where do we put them) and I shared it first because it was the first article I read that addressed that issue, and I wanted to get started with, “Yes we *can* fit them in the UK, here’s how,” and while it wasn’t the most reasoned article I’ve ever read, it made the points well enough.

In other words, I shared every “practical solution” link I could find (I found most of them in my own inbox, rather than searching for them) plus a single article on how we could house a massive influx of refugees.

4) Some of you have made statements about how “you wouldn’t want pictures of your child used like that”. Well, I will tell you, as the mother of 2 children (aged 7 and 9) if they ever die under similar, preventable circumstances, I imagine I will post the pictures myself alongside a shot of me weeping over their caskets, if I think it will make one single person sit up and take notice of whatever tragedy robbed them of their lives.

There’s actually a long history of that; as Piers Morgan informs us today (in the Mail Online… I know, I know):

“The civil rights movement changed irrevocably in the ‘50s when a young black boy named Emmet Till was brutally mutilated and murdered by the Ku Klux Klan and his mother insisted on a public funeral with an open casket, allowing the world to see exactly what these evil bastards had done to her son.” –Piers Morgan, 4th September 2015

5) I’d like to say that the above is why I chose to show the pictures as well as the links (because I could have just shared the links minus the pictures) but the truth is, I didn’t think of it. From the first picture of Aylan I saw, I was near tears; by the time I’d read the articles and shared a couple, I was actively crying and feeling sick. In that state, I didn’t think to share the links minus the pictures… and so I’d shared 3 of the 4 links by the time someone pointed out to me that I could share the one without the other.

And when I thought about it, I did wind up (may all the gods that ever were, forgive me) agreeing with Piers… I think the pictures do the horrific task of reminding us *why* we ought to care, better than anyone’s words alone could. That’s genuinely what I believe, and until I believe something different, I have to act in a manner that aligns with that belief.

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, I am rarely sure of the right thing to do. But if I never did anything, then I would *definitely* not be doing the right thing. People *did* sign both petitions (I get email notifications for one petition; on the other, at least one person told me they’d signed) and I think someone emailed their MP, as well. Maybe that’s not the overwhelming response I let myself hope for, in a moment of unbridled optism… but it’s not nothing, either.

And it’s kinda worked–my Prime Minister has, apparently, gone on record saying that we *will* offer sanctuary to more refugees, in the coming months. Even that wishy-washy promise is better than nothing.

Sometimes, nothing is the only thing I just can’t do.


An open letter to everyone who voted Conservative yesterday and why you should hesitate before you pat yourself on the back.

This, all of it:

Wilsher 's Blog

To everyone who voted conservative yesterday,

I hope you’re happy. Actually that’s a lie, I really don’t. But before you sit smugly down and give yourself a big pat on the back I’d like to ask you a few questions.

Do you think you haven’t benefitted from the system you are currently trying to break down? As a child, did you ever go to hospital? Have you had an education? Did you ever use a library? Have you ever been on a bus? If so, you have benefited from a system which subsidises facilities with taxes. And now you have, you are willing to take it away from everyone after you. Correct me if I’m wrong but that doesn’t seem very fair. You cannot have socialism and a support system when you need it but then be unwilling to support it for other people.

Now if you are someone who…

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So, I’m A Liberal

Which basically just means that I agree with things liberals tend to say: misogyny is not cool, punishing the poor for being poor is not cool, entrenched systems that favour white folks for being white are not cool, etc etc etc.

The other day, I got into an argument (debate? I wish) with a family member (middle-aged, somewhere between working-class and middle-class) and she kept saying things like, “you choose to see things from a decidely liberal standpoint and choose to hold everyone elose responsible. I choose to view things from a conservative standpoint and expect people to be accoutable for their choices.” and also, “I am a product of my choices. Did anyone ever hold a gun to my head and make me make the choices I’ve made? The answer would be no. Conversation over.” (sic)

She didn’t manage to give any concrete examples of the choices she’d made, and how they were truly her choices (as in, the choices she would make in a fair society, rather than a series of Hobson’s choices and/or dilemmas) but I did make an attempt to illustrate how sometimes, the choices we are given are rubbish:

“I’m not sure we’re talking about the same things, then. I’m talking about a system in which my Prime Minister–a multi-millionaire from a wealthy background–claimed roughly $600 a month off the government for his disabled son, for the entirety of his son’s life, and then the government he’s in charge of has been reducing those welfare programmes and removing said benefits from equally disabled people who are *not* multi-millionaires from wealthy backgrounds (as well as adding on various sanctions for people who are in need of government assistance–while continuing to suggest that the wealthy should get *more* tax breaks).

I’m also talking about a system in which ______ (this relative’s adult daughter) suffers from a debilitating illness, yet had to file for the American equivalent of disability living allowance numerous times, because it is standard practice to refuse first-time claimants–who can’t work, who are unable to support themselves–and hope they just go away and/or starve. Maybe we have a different perspective on this; if my daughter had been forced to fight that hard for government assistance she was legally entitled to, after working and paying tax for decades, I’d feel that she’d been crapped on (and if you crap on my kids, you crap on me, in my eyes).

I’m also talking about a system in which working-class individuals are “held accountable” for having to make terrible choices, but corporations aren’t; like when corporations give their workers unsafe, pollutant-filled conditions to work in, which results in diseases like pulmonary fibrosis, just as an example. Papa died from PF–I suppose no one put a gun to his head and *forced* him to work for Union Camp, so I suppose the choice was all his–work in an unsafe environment, or let his family do without, or find another job… but since Union Camp never told him he was working in unsafe conditions, how was he to know that getting a different job might have prolonged his life by 20 years? (And paper factories were still causing workers to develop PF when I was a teenager–it’s not like they don’t know, they just don’t care and no one has the power to make them care.)

THAT is the system I think needs an overhaul. And you are never going to convince me that you think THAT system is a good one, or that it should just continue as it is. As a society, we can do better than that.”

What is interesting to me, is that you were the first person to explain anything about business ethics to me, when I was a kid. You explained very clearly some of the unethical things you had seen, and how to avoid making those mistakes. There is a serious discord between expecting better of small businesses/local business owners, and not expecting better of governments, corporations, and society at large. Isn’t there?”

I’d like to say I’ve received her response to my question, or even that I’m still waiting for one, but I’ve given up hope on her, really; on the other hand, I had a much more productive conversation with the oldest of my younger brothers (11 years my junior, and a college kid, at the minute) and people *his* age are the future… so, y’know. There’s still hope where it counts.