Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 01 Aug 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Love

Who are you, that you want to stand in solidarity with immigrants, refugees and Muslims? It’s a question I was asked tonight on Twitter. Why would I possibly want to stand up and say that I find kinship with people who many of those in mainstream society choose to reject, spurn and blame for almost every social evil? Easy. I’m someone who was redeemed by love.

After I split from my wife and became seriously mentally ill, my ex-mother in law took over my care. She doesn’t know of the existence of this blog and I’d rather keep it that way, so we’ll call her Ann. When she was younger, Ann went to a party in London, had a one night stand and through staggering ill-luck, got pregnant. Abortion was still illegal, so she tried to induce one by getting drunk on gin and having a hot bath. In the end, the water was lukewarm and she ended up sat there singing songs, being violently sick and then sleeping it off. The baby clung on.

She went up to Edinburgh, to the proverbial aunt in the country, where she duly gave birth to a baby boy who she called Richard, after Richard the Lionheart, because he had such a strong heartbeat and was allowed to stay with him for 24 hours until he was taken off her for adoption, for such were the arrangements. In time, he was adopted by a childless couple, both doctors, who had fled the Hungarian Revolution and who later moved to Papua New Guinea where, I assume, they carried on being doctors.

My first name, stalkers, is also Richard. It created an odd kind of bond between me and Ann when I was at my most broken. She showed me all the love and kindness in the world and for that, I love her beyond all measure. And I also owe her my life, as there were times when, had she not been looking after me, I know that I would have killed myself. I’m much better now and, while I know that I will probably be shadowed by depression for the rest of my life, I hope I will never feel it as keenly as I did when she had to look after me. And that leads me to the point of this blog.

If I, white, male, reasonably healthy and sound of wind and limb, to whom all the advantages that come with being a white, able-bodied male, all of which are thoroughly unearned and undeserved, have been given, can’t demonstrate kindness, then we, as a society, are truly in a bad way. And more than that, I have been shown how, more than kindness, love has a redemptive power of its own. I nearly took my own life and that I didn’t is down to love. How much more love must I show to prove that I was worthy of that? The answer can’t be known. But I do know that without love, my life is utterly meaningless.

How to show that love? In all honesty, I don’t know, but it’s something I keep coming back to. After Brexit I was steamingly, viscerally angry with everyone who voted to leave and, I regret to say, that feeling is not too far away now. You can read it for yourself, if you have a mind to, in the blogs that I’ve decided to leave up. But hate, as Martin Luther King said, is too heavy a burden for me to ever hope to carry. Getting angry might be understandable but it isn’t sustainable and when that goes, you have to reach out.

I donate platelets, which I suppose is done with love, and I’m also on the organ donation register, which again, is passively done with love. I’ve worked as a Street Pastor, trying to show love for the homeless, the lost and the intoxicated and I’m trying to find out how I might give support to detainees. One thought, though, recurs. I must show love for immigrants, for refugees, for asylum seekers, for racial minorities, for Muslims. They are the ones who now need it the most. They are the ones victimised in this society increasingly comfortable expressing its latent racism and its xenophobia and who need to know now, more than ever that people stand with them.

To the people tonight who asked me why I stand in solidarity with people they hate or revile, I suppose this makes me a traitor to whatever fictive British values they subscribe to. Frankly, I don’t care. When who you care for and who you stand by and who you love are dictated by borders or by nationalities, then your thinking is awry. The truth, as awful and as huge as it may sound, is that everyone is my brother or my sister. If they reject me, spurn me or even try to kill me, then that does nothing to change this truth. They are my brother, they are my sister. I love them.

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