Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter

Life, Politics

Troubled. A rare crosspost.

This morning I am troubled. The usual buyer’s regret that overwhelms me when I put some new material out (books or songs). But it’s more than that today. I’m suddenly aware of the emptiness of words.

The eye witness accounts from both sides in the Gaza atrocity accuse me in my comfortable middle-class middle-aged white male existence. The Russian non-election underlines how the islands of tolerance around the world are shrinking to tiny habitats ever more reduced by the tsunami of totalitarianism. The vote in the UK parliament last night on the bill to declare a cat a dog (read declare the unsafe Rwanda a safe country so 200 asylum seekers can be deported from the UK) underscores this.
If words are empty, why write this? Why write at all? If tolerance and freedom are being overwhelmed by the flood of intolerance, why not act? Get on a plane to Ukraine, Gaza, Russia, Afghanistan, and any other place in the world, and fight? The accusation of cowardice creeps up my spine. I’m sure my parents used to call me a coward (using a colour to describe me). Our childhoods form our diseases.

Why not protest? I used to think words were enough. I used to think marching in demos was enough. Ironic that demonstration and democracy start with the same four letters. There are, even in this comfortable little country (in the context of all the troubles around the world), laws which outlaw protest, or at least allow a flexible interpretation of it which permits protest to be shut down immediately and for protesters UK nationality to be removed without notice. What oppressive governments do best is to just ignore protests.

The sky is heavy and grey. The wind is picking up. On the last day of winter, there’s a chill in the air. Spring is not coming.

Time passes.

Afternoon now. My back creaks again. The guilt doesn’t go, because there are people with far worse ailments and terrors than mine. A note to say I didn’t win the National Poetry Competition. Piles of work. The notebooks to the right of me ignored. For days, actually.

A long chat on the phone with D. He’s a fount of wisdom, as usual. In dulcet tones. He quotes, and illuminates my afternoon: “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” His interpretation – every little thing we do does have the power to make things better. I’ll take that.

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