Saturday, February 01, 2020

How to feel better

There is plenty to feel bad about quite apart from B***** and the heartlessness of this government. There's  the "Peace plan" for Israel and Palestine cooked up by Trump's son-in-law and Nethanyahu. As if it's possible to have a peace plan when only one side of the conflict has been consulted. šŸ™„. In any case it isn't a peace plan, it's merely a legitimisation of the theft of Palestinian land. 

But it wasn't this that caused me to sink into a very dark place last weekend. Before I go on, I want to say that I am nervous about this post. So be nice to me. You know that quote I often have on here from Barry Magid?

"We don’t have to hate ourselves for our own vulnerability. We don’t have to hate ourselves for what life has done to us. We don’t have to hate ourselves because hurt or loss or longing has gotten to us. Our desires will always be with us in some form, keeping us firmly attached to a world that will hurt us. We must come to love ourselves, love our life, in its vulnerability, in its impermanence, not in spite of all its flaws, but because of them. Because the vulnerability, the changes, the flaws make us who we are."               

I am trying to bear this in mind as I write.

So what was upsetting me?

I was devastated when the government voted against including in the EU withdrawal agreement the right of refugee children abroad to be reunited here with family members who were not their parents. I wasn't just upset that the amendment failed, I was upset at the thought that all those MPs could be so downright mean.

And there was another thing: the case of a teenage boy called Samet. When Samet was 11, his drunken father forced him to beg on the streets of Tirana in Albania to support his family. At 15 he was taken to Brussels and what happened to him there traumatised Samet so much that he still can’t talk about it.

Samet was then trafficked into England where he was given asylum and fostered by a kind man called John Stokes. Samet settled well, and learned English fast and is now training at college to become a carpenter. But as soon as he turned 18 the Home Office wanted to deport him.  His foster father launched a campaign to overturn this decision. He took a petition signed by 400,000 people to the Home Office last week. The Home Office refused to change the decision. The fight for Samet's future continues, but there are many many young people in a similar situation who are living underground and have no-one to fight their corner.

It's hard to explain how very desperate I felt about all this last weekend, and always in the background for me these days are the dire results of the UK governments's austerity policies.  

This quote is relevant...

“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.”

Andrew Boyd from Daily Afflictions

But on Sunday after Quaker Meeting, I had a chat with an 80-something friend, who listened to why I was upset and said three helpful things:

1/ I need to protect myself from other people's sadnesses while still trying to help, otherwise I'll sink and be no help at all.

2/ There are many, many good people in the world who are doing wonderful things to help others. He gave me specifics.

3/ I too am contributing in the things that I do.

I think that as well as his unquestioning acceptance of my feelings, it was the second point that was the clincher. Somehow, and I know it's unreasonable, I was irrationally feeling it was my job to fix everything that is wrong with the world.

Of course, I just need to do my bit. I just need to be kind, and that includes being kind to myself. And I need to remember this quote I got from some ancient bint who has a blog called Fragments of a Writer's Life.

We never know what effect we have on other people and thus on the wider world. That's why we need to keep going, following our path, being ourselves, doing our best, even if our efforts seem small and insignificant.

And you really won't believe what has just happened! Just this minute! The post arrived and with it, this postcard from my dear friend Het, who told me this week she'd been to hear Richard Layard (86) the Happiness guru, talking about how to be happy. I leave it with you.

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