The remains of a battered Optimist…Posted: July 13, 2014
Protest, the optimism that begins to fade…
I learnt something about myself on Friday 11th, as I stood with thousands of others on High Street Kensington. That the feeling of helplessness is overwhelming. AND I hate it. I can only empathise, such an empty word at times.. I must do it. But…I can only empathise.
This is my personal dilemma. The desire to do something, anything, that does not make me feel so helpless. I felt pathetic. I stood there, silently, not chanting FREE FREE PALESTINE. I stood there silently and reflected on that moment, that particular act I had chosen to participate in. What possessed me to attend the protest? What possessed me to stand there, but then feel so disgusted at myself for just being there? One of the reasons was because, at the end of it, I would go on, elsewhere. I did.I went to meet a friend, had some drinks and dinner and a lovely evening. It was the fleeting nature of this participation that made me feel so uncomfortable. There is a disconnect. I stopped and drew this moment. I want to remember what this feeling was like.
I have been reading over the last few weeks about social justice, urban refugee camps, different communities that are experiencing injustice, the philosophy of living in camps etc. It has dawned on me: I feel ill-equipped, despite the past few years of working and developing skills and training around these topics. I don’t know what I could say or do for someone in Gaza whose home and life have been ripped apart, just as I am unable to know what to say to a child living on the streets of Dhaka who asks for some pennies so that they can eat. It frustrates me that I cannot find the right words to express my emotions. I wish, that I could just draw my way through life sometimes. Others will say, why not? It then forces me to question what is it that I want my art to represent, or re-present?
I force myself to challenge my own thoughts all the time, precisely because they can develop outside of my influence – they can be tainted, they can become impure, they can be horrible. Yet, the optimist in me wants to continue seeing the best, the positive, the potential for good, for change. This remains the challenge. How to keep the glass half full. This optimism is hard to ignore; but it clouds and taints reality, it can blur potential ways forward.
This reflexive act then also convinces me that I need to do more: read, draw, write, make revisions to my thoughts, clarify, analyse and re-interpret life. It is a long process. Do I have the stamina to endure it? It seems at the moment, no. I am battered, bruised emotionally and mentally, yet I continually dig deeper to answer difficult questions, not knowing when to stop.
Does anyone share my emotions? Can anyone offer any answers?
I want to extend a thank you to Philip for helping edit these thoughts.