How have you been?
It's taken a while to get back to this. This past year and a half has been a lot, with so much being so overwhelming, and still it piles on – anxieties sustained, isolation intensified, precarity multiplied, segregations reinforced, complacency entrenched, struggles pacified, horizons obscured… all entangled between infinitely scrolling news cycles of inescapable doom, rehashed political theatre, and spectacular ecological catastrophe. None of this needs reminding, and yet at the same time, it all seems so easily hidden from view as things return to normal.
If you haven't been able to be present, to be “of value”, to “contribute”, to either “resist” nor “see the positive”, to know and speak and be heard amidst all this, you're most surely not alone. Even this has taken months to write. An even longer journey to realise: It's alright. You're enough.
There is no denying the palpable feeling of fatigue and grief all around, a feedback loop of powerlessness that may have us each turning to distractions while toiling, waiting for things to get… better. Those of us who can anyway.
Help and empathy run up against the limits of uncaring structures. It almost seems like the closest thing desirable and imaginable is indeed “return” to familiarity which some would call “normal” – even if normal was always twisted, punishing, and blanketed by atomised hopelessness. And as if the lasting effects of living through all this could simply be brushed off later, always later, as the “new” normal they decided on is once again forcefully instituted from the top down.
What is or should normal be? Could its understanding and experience still be changed now, be dissolved into myriad divergences, when it's easier than ever to conflate nation-state, capital, and authority with expertise, ability, and possibility? Does the urgency for response to climate crisis make it seem like these systems of rule could magically start working differently? When they haven’t for the crises normal of pandemic or everyday harms? How could we possibly break expectations of peace, joy, and comfort away from this colonialist reality moulded by extraction and death? What is “safety” predicated on the border, on exclusion, on hierarchy, but violence?