I was in tears watching Johnson’s absurd speech tonight. Tears of anxiety, tears of fear, tears of rage.
Construction workers (to take one example) should go back to work – with no PPE, with no health standards in place at 12 hours notice, with their bosses and management able to work from home, but the people who use their bodies to physically build the society we all live in are to go to work and risk themselves for the economy.
Their children are not yet back at school, so who is to look after them? Their elderly family members are still to be isolated, so who is to look after them? The NHS staff who will be called on to treat them if and when they become ill – because some WILL become ill – still don’t have the right PPE or working conditions to save them from the virus. The public transport workers who also need to continue to risk their lives while others work from home. And on it goes. For every worker expected to return to work tomorrow there is an increased risk for the worker, for their families, for those they come into contact with, for all of us.
We can see what this rhetoric is doing, it is absolving the government from responsibility and making it our problem – our ‘choice’ to work from home or not (if we have the kind of work than can be done from home, if we have work), our ‘choice’ to social distance or not, our ‘choice’ to put more strain on the underfunded and under-supported NHS. It is putting profit before lives, economy before individuals.
It comes from a government that doesn’t think over thirty thousand people dead is a catastrophe.
It is heartbreaking and it is frightening. And still, because we have a government that has abdicated its own responsibility to the people, I will take responsibility for these things:
- I will continue to socially distance, exercise safely (ie. alone), aware of the deep privilege of living with someone I love and being able to work for home.
- I will remember that not everyone has this privilege and that therefore I have a duty to speak up for those who do not.
- I will keep doing my best work with and for Fun Palaces because I have faith in and love for the people of communities across the UK, who deserve far more care than this and are giving that care themselves, day in day out, in their own communities.
- And I will remember this government and how badly they handled this situation, the chaos, the arrogance and the constant lies.
When we are apart from those we love, fearful or anxious we are more likely to let anger exhaust us. I suspect that is what this government wants.
I choose to feel my rage. I cannot act on it in the ways I would like – we are far from an election and we cannot protest in person – so, for now, I will choose to translate my rage into care.
That way I can make sure the rage stays stoked – its day will come.
The image is from the Southwark Clinic, Walworth Road. My mum worked there for a bit during WW2, before she joined up.