During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
(George Orwell, 1984)
(George Orwell, 1984)
Michael Rosen & Chris Riddell doing what they do best.
…The first question that the priest asked; the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question. “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
That’s the question before you tonight. Not “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job?” Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?”
The question is, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?”
That’s the question.
(Martin Luther King, Jr: I’ve Been To the Mountaintop)
King's Mountaintop speech at The Mason Temple was delivered on the 3rd April, 1968. The following day, King was assassinated.
I have always been inspired by this speech (full text), especially how he begins. King recounts how someone once asked him 'which age would you like to live in?' He then lyrically goes on a timeline, focusing on the dramatic and extravagant peaks of world history. Red Sea. Greeks. Romans. And on. His answer finally settles on Memphis. Here. And now.
At first he acknowledges 'that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars... something is happening in our world.'
The next part never fails to wind me.
Owning our time.
Owning our responsibility.
It's a speech of a lifetime.
(London Review of Books: 22 February 2018)
I would go one stage further. The ideology behind the Victorian Poor Law is still alive and feeding off the heart of society. It’s hard for me to get my head around how a way of thinking that Dickens so passionately wrote against is blatantly parading itself down the streets.
The Poor Law had its roots in how people defined ‘moral’ work. The ability to purchase property, goods and security were all signs of a moral and worthy lifestyle. Work hard, and you will be rewarded. Slack off, accept the curse. This shift of thinking impacted the poor. The inability to provide for oneself was a sign of weak morals and questionable lifestyles. That way of thinking condoned the shift in how care services for ‘all’ morphed into services for those deemed ‘worthy enough.’
Today, we have different terms to describe ‘moral work’. But the way of thinking remains. Us. Them. Deserving. Undeserving. Poverty is thriving and taking increasingly sinister forms.
And it’s happening on my watch.
(Wish you were here: David Gilmour / Roger Waters)
A 2015 New Year's wish from Neil Gaiman that is just as relevant for us all today.
(Charles Dickens: Household Words)
According to some political viewpoints, these children would not be considered homeless.
(Sol Stein: Stein on Writing)
In other words - smash the frame through which eyes view the world, expose the heart to the reality outside of its edited picture. Not the easiest thing to do, because it first starts with ‘self.’