The Simmering

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The simmering behind my eyes. Is it a consequence of mid-night sunshine? The fever of hayfever? The burning up of hope as hate-crime follows hate-crime? Too much fire in the head?

It’s undeniable. Our environmental and political situation is getting grimmer and grimmer. Kevan Manwaring sums this up in his Publisher’s Note to the 2016 edition of Soul of the Earth:

‘As I write this the world looks in even worse shape than it did then. Not only are rapacious ideologies and practices continuing to damage this precious Earth (so much so that this epoch may be designated the ‘Anthropocene’ because of the lasting legacy we will leave in the Earth’s fossil record because of our massive impact upon the biosphere), but humanity seems intent on tearing itself apart. Conflict in the Middle East, in Africa, in Eastern Europe, and elsewhere continues to create human suffering on a massive scale. The war in Syria has resulted in the migration of millions. The European project is fracturing. Right-wing extremism is on the march once again. Campaigners lobby for the closure of borders, for breaking away from the EU, for increasing parochialism. With such a bunker mentality, with selfishness, fear and loathing, and a perpetual heightened state of terror becoming the ‘new normal’, it is perhaps more poignant than ever to think of ourselves as ‘souls of the earth’.’

In the space of four days, 49 people have been shot dead in a gay club in Orlando and a Yorkshire MP murdered for standing for the Remain campaign and the benefits of immigration.

On the day of Jo Cox’s murder, UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage unveiled a poster condemned as ‘disgusting’ and ‘a blatant attempt to incite racial hatred’ featuring a line of refugees, mostly of colour, crossing the Croatia-Slovenia border with the captions ‘Breaking Point: The EU has failed us all’ and ‘We must break free of the EU and take control of our borders.’ It has been compared to Nazi propaganda.

On a less consequential note, yesterday I attended the second public consultation on Penwortham By-Pass. In 2014 I raised objections to the new stretch of by-pass to Penwortham Town Council and was relieved to find they were opposed to it too (albeit in favour of an alternative through Longton). However their opposition was overruled by Lancashire County Council and it was decided the Penwortham route would be protected. This meeting just provided the opportunity to make comments and suggestions for minor amendments to the route, provisions for wildlife, and reduction of noise.

Two things infuriated me. Firstly the wording in the leaflet ‘City Deal will help grow the local economy at an unprecedented rate over the next ten years, providing more jobs and homes and improved travelling times’. Secondly a table showing changes in traffic flow on local roads with and without the bypass assuming a massive increase between 2019 and 2035. Locally the role of economic growth and fuel emissions in climate change are not being addressed.

Not only that, the whole City Deal development is designed for the main purpose of creating more jobs at new ‘Enterprise Zones’ at BAE Systems in Warton and Samlesbury which manufacture military aircraft. It’s founded on the assumption not only that war will continue but additional warplanes will be needed. At a time when the far-right are campaigning to close the borders to refugees fleeing from war we’re building the weapons that force them to flee.

It’s enough to make an iceberg simmer. To hate ‘them’: the people in power, pulling the strings, inciting hatred. Yet hatred only incites more hatred, burns, kills, incinerates the hater.

How not to go mad in a world where hope burns? To reach out rather than strike out? Not to depart down the long, dark tunnels of tears to the caverns of despair?

Responding to the attacks on Paris and Brussels, storyteller Martin Shaw wrote ‘a counsel of resistance and delight in the face of fear’. His advice was to ‘go deeper’ ‘attend your soul-ground’. Do not cut the cords to ‘our soulful waters’. Be around truth. Love.

Such a temptation in the face of recent events: to abandon one’s life, one’s work, one’s loves, because they seem worthless if they cannot prevent homophobia, xenophobia, war, environmental destruction. Yet without a ‘soul-ground’ it is impossible to fight against oppression or build a better world.

Too much simmering is bad for the soul. Fire cannot be fought with fire without the destruction of the minds, bodies, and spirits of us all. I purge the fire in my head in the deep, where flame meets water like a flambeau seek visions of how to face the threats that aim to divide and destroy the ‘souls of the earth’.

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2 thoughts on “The Simmering

  1. Thanks for the Martin Shaw link…..Sedna is one of my muses. A few years back 3 of us women had a artist’s group that meet once of twice a month and we called ourselves the Sednas. Sadly both women moved to the West Coast and our meetings ended. They were where my inspiration came from to write Glossing the Spoils. Have been a writing group orphan ever since. It’s a dark time, but Sedna is the Lady to call on for help….

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