Random jottings for the blog – which then became the blog …
Not being Moleskine-notebook person, I scribbled these in a very small, uncharacteristic notebook late at night, a notebook for shopping and to-do lists
I have begun: the first three pages of novel No. 3 (theme: What is Love?) exist outside of my brain. I’ve re-engaged with the characters. So, thinking about what we mean by love, and how is it shown, encourages me to look even more at how human beings think, behave, function towards each other, under a virtual microscope.
Of course, thinking about people is what fiction writers do all the time: we do it by nature, we are amazed, frustrated, delighted, appalled, by people … Observation presents random thoughts all the time: but now, how do they add up ?
Some Examples: is the other person ‘real with needs like me’?
1. People are weird. No doubt about it. For example, how does another person hear what we say? Through a filter of past experiences. A straight remark can be heard as sarcasm, a word of praise taken as ironic, an enquiry about whether a person is free on a certain day or has a certain skill as the precursor to a demand for that they should help or be available to the speaker. We are afraid each other!
2. People, after what seemed like period of historical peace, are on the move again. Vast numbers of people, displaced and driven out from countries where life is becoming unliveable are taking almost unbelievable risks rather than remain where they were. We joined our local demonstration.
It was maybe March when we began to increasingly hear about ‘migrants’ on the News. It wasn’t until late summer, and finally until someone published a photo of a drowned toddler, that the international community began to talk loudly enough to be heard. Yes, these people did indeed need somewhere to be. They were after all ‘refugees’: fleeing for refuge. Were the demonstrators serious? Or will it soon look like emotion, the sunshine, and a Sunday afternoon out with a banner? I hope not.
A parallel: last year, in about March, supporters of aid organisations, especially of MSF, were made aware of the crisis in West Africa caused by a massive outbreak of Ebola. It wasn’t until August that the WHO ‘declared the emergency of international concern.’ At last the whole thing sounded as urgent as it had always been. And then, development of possible vaccines and treatments was stepped up … a shocking example of how tropical illnesses don’t usually receive the same interest and research grants that typically Western disease does.
It’s not a global village: there’s little care or knowledge about people in really troubled places. It is however, very definitely a global village: infection can travel faster than ever. So can terrorists and weapons of war.
How Rules are Applied … is this compassionate?
3. Another scenario: health and safety. So, a patient is admitted to an acute ward in a mental hospital – disturbed, frightened, maybe aggressive, panicking … their cigarettes, on which they depend for comfort, are taken away, …Basically, smoking is harmful … But, a baby is being left at nursery for the first time: would we snatch away a pacifier or favourite toy, right away? It’s possible to argue for the protection of the staff from passive smoking: but shouldn’t this ban be explained, later, to the patient, when they are feeling calmer, and able to understand? (My info. source: mental health nurse on acute ward)
We implement rules without applying sensible, but pragmatic, thought to individual situations. It’s so much easier to treat people as things, as a mass to be processed.
Is nothing special now …
or I thought going out was the now way to meet with friends?
4. Coffee comes in many forms: cappuccinos, lattes, flavoured coffees… we used to get these when we’re out. They were special. Do we really need a coffee machine in the home, which performs all the same tricks? Beans to cup? Steam heated milk included? Going out and staying in are getting so samey? What happened to treats?
What happens to people who have, in material terms, everything? What actually is ‘love’?