I’m travelling abroad today. To a foreign country which ought in some ways to be familiar and exciting, but every time I look at my news feed, it appears ever more alien.
I can’t keep up with trying to make sense of anything anywhere any more. A year ago, I was getting on with life -as you do, the ups and the downs – beginning to get faintly irritated by the news, but still able to buy papers and listen to the radio without too much of a cortisol rush.
Looking back, I now can’t believe how peaceful and superficially uncomplicated it was. And how complacent I was about democracy and common shared values.
Now, I’ve seen the neutrality of the civil service attacked, the impartiality of our judiaciary questioned, and the sovereignty of our parliament contested.
We have a head girl in charge. A head girl who has only ever wanted to be head girl and will do anything to remain head girl including holding hands and trying to make friends with weirdo narcissistic misogynists. How does she sleep at night? If she slumbers peacefully, is that even more worrying? Is lack of sleep responsible for barmy contradictions such as attacking tax dodging companies on one day and then threatening to make us a low tax haven on the next?
It’s all so surreal I’m tempted to ignore everything and hope it goes away. But there’s a real danger in not commenting on the pervasive daily lunacies we now encounter. We all have to look back and remember “normal”. We are already on the slippery slope of getting used to the outrageously abnormal. I recently read The German War: A Nation Under Arms 1939-1945 by Nicholas Stargardt. It is a fascinating examination of how ordinary people experienced and were generally supportive of WW11. People are generally not perfectly good or perfectly bad: they are nuanced, complicated beings and even where they start with a clear moral stance, events can take them to places previously unimaginable and unimagined. Yes, yes, Godwin’s law again. But history matters.
So, as much as I really don’t want to, I have to keep reading the news and telling myself “That’s not right. That’s mad. That’s insane” because I cannot bear to think I might end up seeing it all as normal.