In films, when things are going badly wrong, you see the characters consumed by events; they are intense, focussed, driven.
In reality, in between throwing your hands up in horror, you spend much of your time doing the usual things as though the world might not come to a premature end. You get up, eat breakfast, chat with friends, watch Gogglebox and Graham Norton.
The world right now is in a bigger mess than I have ever known. Maybe the Cold War days were just as apocryphal, only I was too young to understand the threat hanging over us. Krushchev banging his shoe on a table was something I learned about in history lessons. The holocaust has continued to have repercussions, but its power to appall and shock seemed to be nudging us into greater awareness that, as Jo Cox said, we have more in common that we have that divides us. Out of that terrible evil it seemed we might finally understand the importance of interfaith dialogue, human rights legislation and anti-racist education.
Then along came Brexit, and the realisation that there were an astounding number of people about who wanted to blame someone, something, anyone, anything for the things that weren’t working. Not unfortunately the actual people who were to blame, politicians who have dealt a toxic cocktail of short termism, and fake successes, financial deals which are supposed to help the country but where the cash ends up in the bank accounts of a privileged few. Meanwhile papers like the Mail and the Sun ramp up the fear factor about ‘benefits cheats’, ‘health tourists’, illegal immigrants’.
There has to be accountability. Real accountability, not the shrugging off of responsibility onto someone else who hasn’t the cash to hire an expensive lawyer, not the scapegoating of a few individuals or civil servants who’ll carry the can for a minister or two. The missing Saudi journalist is the immediate event that makes my blood run cold. If, as seems likely, he has been abducted or killed having gone to the Saudi consulate in Turkey for the required paperwork for his marriage, it is yet another example of a state that believes itself untouchable taking revenge on an individual who has criticised it. Saudi Arabia has said the accusations levelled at it are ‘baseless’. to my ear that sounds suspiciously like ‘you can’t prove it’.
Putin mocks the investigations into poisonings in Salisbury. Trump declares the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh’s were a hoax ‘brought about by people that are evil’. The UK sells arms to Saudi Arabia in vast quantities; Prince Charles is friendly with the Saudi royals; my gut feeling is the UK government will not be pressing the House of Saud as hard as it should for real answers. Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance will be an uncomfortable inconvenience for the British government, not a cause for outrage about human rights violations.
Still, I cook the pasta, prepare a packed lunch for tomorrow, start to make plans for Christmas. Our ability to live in several realities at the same time is truly astounding. Most of the time I think that helps to keep us sane, but perhaps it’s also what makes us act insanely. That might explain why presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro has promised to make Brazil great again by reneging on the Paris agreement and open Indigenous areas up to mining, even potentially introducing a paved highway through the Amazon. The environmental impact of those policies would be, to put it mildly, catastrophic, not just for Brazil but for all of us. That Bolsonaro can even contemplate this is mind-boggling. If he does it, basically we’re all fucked.
Now I’d better do the washing up and get ready for bed. Work tomorrow.