There is an episode of House of Cards that is predicated on a Hurricane. It opens with a close up of a computer screen filled with the image of its swirling, threatening mass. It’s still out at sea but its power is evident. Implicit in the image is the notion that when the storm reaches land fall it will bring utter devastation.
We’re experiencing similar conditions. A perfect storm is building; a storm driven by the worst of human nature; hatred, greed, selfishness, apathy and fear. For some, for me, it’s still out at sea but for many it’s right overhead.
Wars are being waged in multiple countries across the globe, people are dying on our doorstep, thousands wait interminably on our borders in the cold, with no shelter. Rain falls endlessly in December. Ice melts. A mad man wins primary after primary. A drone strikes.
The storm hasn’t hit us yet. Not yet. It’s circling, skirting our coast. Prickling our fear.
In a subconscious response we hunker down, close ourselves off, switch into survival mode. Governments hoard resources, my sister studies the healing qualities of herbs, I stockpile paracetamol and tinned food. I buy more matches than I need. I think about buying a gun.
I am afraid. My fear keeps me up at night. I am haunted by the images of parents in Calais, in Greece, in Syria, on the borders of Macedonia, offering up their children to strangers. I close my eyes and see the limp body of a drowned child. I imagine how it would feel to have your home bulldozed with your belongings inside, or to be utterly helpless; at the mercy of a system that is opposed to you and doesn’t hear your cries for help. I think of the oceans awash with plastic and trees burning.
For now, these horrors are not part of my immediate existence and it is possible to ignore them if I choose. In the morning the sun shines across the calm waters of the estuary. Boats bob and gulls fly. My boy sleeps next to me, his hand in mine, safe and warm.
But try as I might I can’t ignore them, I can't hunker down or cut myself off and I watch events unfold with horror. No one with any real power seems to be doing anything. We are taught in books, films, political speeches that in our hour of need someone will come for us. Not so it seems. There are caveats to goodwill. We must offer evidence of our distress, papers and proof; more evidence than is required for politicians to take our country to war. The videos of devastated Syrian cities aren’t enough, the tyranny of Daesh is not enough, stories of towns under siege, starved of supplies for weeks on end. Not enough.
You must struggle on alone is the message they send. By our measure you're not desperate enough. Besides, we can’t help all of you and so we’ll help no one.
I am terrified because it could so easily be me, it could so easily be any of us and should the storm hit, we might not be able to prove that we are worthy of help either. In any case, I’m not certain that evidence makes any difference. Countless scientific journals and events we have all witnessed with our own eyes; unprecedented flooding, warming oceans, daffodils in December, they don’t spur the Government into action either. They are not money or big business. They aren’t things worthy of concern.
In House of Cards the Hurricane doesn’t make landfall, it changes course and America is saved. I don't think we'll be that lucky, not unless we do something. We’re not dealing with a natural phenomenon. This is something we’ve created ourselves and only we have the power to change its course.
The solutions are out there, I hear clever and inspiring people talking about them all the time on the podcasts I listen to. I see clever and inspiring people volunteering help, offering compassion and innovating on a small scale. I'm starting to think that it's these people we’re going to have to turn to. Up to now they've been dismissed as naive, as hippies or idealists but honestly, they’re the ones with the answers. It's them we should support; where we should donate our spare time and our resources.
I no longer have any faith in the Governments’ ability, inclination or capacity to protect us from the storm that threatens our very existence. Actually I think they might be a big part of it. That said, I’m not advocating revolution (although in the mood I’m in today if someone started one I’d probably grab a pitch fork and join in) those who know me well, know how much I like systems and structure and I truly believe some kind of system is better than a free for all. But this system is shit, it’s failing at every level and if the Governments aren’t going to do anything then we, the people will have to do it ourselves.
There’s more of us anyway.