About Me

My photo
Blogging about things that matter to me. Photographing things I love - Instagram @debcyork. Writing about both. Only wine and chocolate can save us… You can also find me on Twitter (@debcyork) and Facebook. If you like four-legged views, try @missbonniedog on Twitter

Monday, 30 January 2017

A Life like Melania

After a weekend of more turmoil caused by Donald Trump' administration, I wondered if I should find something else to write about today.  I actually have an idea for a different post.  But I strongly feel that in the current world political situation, numbers of voices are everything.  We must stand up and be counted or watch our nations slide back to the Thirties.  If we get bored with talking about it all, we will fall into a lethargy which will perpetuate Trump's regime and allow Europe to slide too.

So here is a voice, a thought.  Yesterday I saw a photo of a protester in New York.  Her sign said 'Without immigration, Trump would have no wives'.  Strictly speaking, he would have had Marla Maples and one child but you get the point.

Nothing has really been said about the fact that the new First Lady is an immigrant though, has it?  Not nasty stuff in the mainstream media.  (That I can find anyway. ) And this, it seems to me, is because in a civilised multi-cultural society, we don't comment on such things.  A person's background does not define them.  My children have acquaintances with parents from various countries.  Some of these children themselves were not born in the UK.  My husband and I both have immigrants in our family histories.   No Western country is 'pure bred' despite the Nazis' best efforts.

Melania Trump only became a permanent US resident in 2001.  Probably less time than a lot of the people currently fearing for their residencies simply because of their religion.  She is the first foreign-born First Lady since 1825.  But in normal circumstances, who cares?  She went to the US to make a home and a new life.  Without commenting on who she chose to make that life with (!), we can definitely say that she was entitled to do so.  But so are others, regardless of religion or colour or sex.  Those things shape us and contribute to our identities but should never be a factor in where we can go, who we can see or what we can do with our lives. 

As I said last week, we need momentum now.  Keep protesting, keeping sharing the petitions and the latest news, keep fighting back.  Our ancestors knew right from wrong and they fought the Nazis.  It is a short step from banning people and curtailing their rights to imprisonment or worse.  It has happened before and must not happen again.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Bubble Momentum

Image result for womens march

We were told, after Brexit, to get out of our bubbles.  Apparently, we were all only preaching to the converted.  Both in person and on social media.  Looking at my own posts, I definitely felt this to be true on social media.  I had shared and shared stuff in favour of Remain.  But actually I was just exchanging stuff with like-minded individuals.  Not changing anyone's mind.  

I always worry about tweeting something which accidentally attracts mass vitriol.  I don't know who I think I am going to reach, in that vast twittering ether but anyway.  I have, however, been making a point of reading more of the 'opposition' social media traffic. It is mostly, in my opinion, horrific.  The opinions being expressed are the antithesis of my own feelings.

But it is quite clear that many of these people are just as well organised as the more liberal-minded of us.  And their lack of empathy for others means they are far more likely to use the most appalling language and to express the most outrageous opinions on social media.  A mass of shock jocks, vying to cause the most offence.  Led by Trump, whose position gives permission for such behaviour by others.  People who believe in fairness and honesty are more reluctant to offend in my experience.

Some of the tweets and other pronouncements rejoicing at the end of Obama's presidency and the installation of Trump have been sickening in their ferocity.  I am not for a minute suggesting fighting fire with fire.  But the opposition does need to organise.  The same needs to happen in the UK.  It is not just about lack of effective political opposition anymore.  It is about developing a presence, a language which will appeal to those tempted by racism, sexism, etc.  Piers Morgan and Katie Hopkins, for example, are despicable but their voices are being heard.

The Women's Marches this last weekend were angry enough and well organised enough to be a start.  Momentum is now the key.  In the US, Trump forms a focus for the anger.  In Europe we need to turn our focus onto the Far Right and organise before it is too late.  Trump is in power and it is going to take quite something to unseat him.  In Europe we have an opportunity to prevent his like from gaining power in the first place.  And that means coming out of our bubbles fighting.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Hold On

For the last few months - and for many reasons -  I have been doing some work on myself, for want of a better phrase.  Rest assured, I have not been dabbling in plastic surgery.  It has been more about my general well-being.  Both mental and physical.

One of the strands which I have been pursuing is the idea of being true to how we actually feel about something.  I have not been good at believing in my right to feel angry or upset.  But I am getting better at holding onto and validating my feelings.

The current news climate, though, has caused me to think that we are all going to have to get better at this. We must not allow ourselves to be convinced by politicians or certain news outlets that our initial feelings of revulsion or anger about something are wrong.  We have to hang on to what we know to be true, to be right, to be fair.

In Nazi Germany, the necessary majority of people were gradually convinced - by way of an improving economy and much militaristic posturing - that the disappearance of the Jews, of the disabled, of any effective opposition was a good thing.  That it was for the greater good.  The Nazis didn't have social media but they had stupendous propaganda.  It was the ultimate in fake news, surely?

Meryl Streep's speech at the Golden Globes was a brilliant example of holding on to how something had really and truly made her feel.  And she used that to show the kind of behaviour we are up against.  Not just in the US either.  Brexit in the UK and the rise of politicians like Marine Le Pen in France have allowed all sorts of horrific things to be said and done which are just plain wrong.  To say nothing of our general malaise towards the continuing situations in the Middle East.

I believe in free speech and honest exchanges of opinions.  But no one, whatever their political colouring, should be allowed to use gender, race, religion or other human characteristics to attack their opponents.  If you do not have the wit and intelligence to put together a coherent, fact-based and fair argument, you should not be in public life.

[Not a family history post but one for our descendants maybe...]

Monday, 9 January 2017

January's here again

Holidays are a funny thing in family history.  All those of a certain age generally have so many photos from our childhoods which are of holidays.  Virtually no-one carried a camera 24/7 like they do now.  So the camera was particularly taken on holidays.  The photos show groups of people gathered on beaches, up mountains, round tables, in boats, etc.  Doesn't life look marvellous, we think.

Yet holidays are like little bubbles in a lifetime.  There is nothing normal about them.  That's the whole point.  You are often with people who you don't get to spend much time with ordinarily.  You are plonked down in mainly unfamiliar places.  Eating unusual food and trying new activities.  Or maybe not.  Maybe all your family photos are of gatherings in the same place every year, with the only perceptible difference being in the ages/quantities of people.

Whatever your family albums show, unless your ancestors were pretty wealthy, it is only in the last century - but more likely fifty years - that people have taken holidays as we would recognise them.  We owe a lot to the fight for workers' rights, whatever our politics!  Imagine if 2017 people only got one day off per month, like many in domestic service did only a century ago.

Now taking a holiday will always be a privilege and goodness knows, there are far more people in the world who do not have that privilege than those who do.   But making good memories, however or wherever we choose to doit, is vital to our well being in my opinion.  The booking gives you something to look forward to.  The return, after the initial shock (!), gives you memories to sustain you until the next time.  No wonder January blues start to kick in on about the 27th of December.  The build-up to Christmas and then flat spirits and fat bodies descend.  

This week, everyone seems to be talking either about diets and gyms or holidays.  Or both.  Including me, clearly....