I’m an IF sceptic, and an Obama fan, I’m haunted by torture footage in Guatanamo as portrayed in Zero Dark Thirty, I’m dismayed and frustrated at the pressure the G8 in Northern Ireland has put on local workers, their people and communities, I’m embarrassed by how unjust and arrogant my country and it’s friends are with it’s power and it’s words and I find myself caught between hope and doubt, change and paralysis.
First there was going to be a blog piece about the IF campaign – where I said I didn’t really believe any campaign was going to influence the politicans to end world hunger – because if there was, they would have done it already. But then I watched this video and then this one too and saw the photo above. I met people who have worked on and coordinated the campaign and on Saturday night I ate dinner with people from all around the world who believe that voices in campaigns matter and will bring profound change to communities around the world. It’s not magic, it won’t all happen at once, but smart, clever people are behind it, they’re hopeful and this somehow challenges my doubts – which is right I think.
Then there was going to be a blog piece about how the little person’s chicken pox had prevented me from going to protests about the G8 – not because my political opinions are formed significantly against this summit (I think it’s a good idea for these leaders to get their heads together on a regular basis) but I value the socialist critique and the diverse representation of groups and people that identify with the 99% so to speak is a group I want to be standing near in order to hear what they have to say. I’ve thought and read a lot about what justice and transformation might look like in the world at theological, political, social and economical levels – I value an oppression and liberation perspective and right now a lot of the poltical rhetoric is dominated by talk of war and money – which is mostly always has been – but in a time where we know more about the dignity and flourishment of persons and societies and communities – I find our leaders invoking the ideology of the oppressed and marginalised that has help them to survive, struggle and resist oppression, to now justify and expand oppressive models.
Then today happened, a big event in Belfast city, roads shut down, big helicopters over head, people sharing photos of their tickets to go and hear Obama speak. I think I would have liked to have gone I didn’t start out with this uneasiness, it’s a historic moment that will be a special memory for many people. As the day has gone on, I’ve gotten a little uneasy with the enthusiasm for the speech. The words ‘inspiring’ and ‘hopeful’ and ‘great speaker and orator’ I’ve seen many times. All of which I do not disagree with. However, they make me uncomfortable. I’ve grown unsure in recent months about integrity as a value in any politician who grooms the public with words – because in many ways that’s all any politican does – whilst actions in the fore and background and the walk vs talk dynamic are and can be inconsistent. I watched and loved enough of The Wire and The West Wing to understand that the ‘system’ is crippling and even the powerful don’t have much power. I guess I’m caught wanting a leader to not be glossy or sweeping, but mention the hardship, the deals and the ‘crocks of sh-t’ as spoken of by Mayor Carcetti (The Wire) that are necessary to move things forward and that also hold things back. There’s more integrity in tranparency I think, rather than spin. I feel that some comments made today minimised the complexities and sensitivies within communities here and ignored the huge disconnect beween some communities and their politicians which have been massively highlighted recently – and that’s not an adult only analysis, I’m aware the address was for young people. It would have felt more authentic to hear about those – otherwise is it all not just another part or extension of this ridiculous circus or show?
This circus, it’s not just happened to roll into town here over this G8 week – but we are being sold tickets to a long running show of manipulated messages that are fed and goaded and propped up in order to keep us consumptive, bloated Westerners at bay.
I know many people are pleased about Northern Ireland being famous for good things, and I’m sorry if my betwixedness takes awau from that. I know that it’s a hard gig, being a President of any country, being a leader even. I guess I’m disillusioned with the power structures at work in our world and my expectation are that leaders know and should lead better – they don’t – and therefore my hope wavers.
I remain caught – between hope and doubt, comfort and discomfort, information and misinformation.