My dad was a big Dire Straits fan. If you’ve read my blog post How does it feel to be a problem? you’ll be able to guess why. I like lots of their songs but one I really love is “It never rains around here, it just comes pouring down.” And that feels like a particularly apt sentiment for where I find myself this evening, both literally and metaphorically.
It must have been the wettest June ever with downpour after downpour following short bursts of intense heat. And then there’s the world around me. After the terrible events yesterday in Orlando, things feel bleak. Man’s inhumanity to man shown in sharp relief yet again. All this against the backdrop of Donald Trump gaining the Republican nomination on a racist and divisive campaign platform, whilst in the UK we are embroiled in a proxy war about immigration/multiculturalism through the medium of the EU referendum. With polling indicating we will turn our back on our membership of a unique project of cooperation and mutual dependency; our last defence against rampant globalised capital.
Not given to gloomy thoughts normally, I feel slightly trapped. There doesn’t seem to be a way out. I don’t have any answers, I don’t have any solutions. All the old solutions seem to have failed. I grew up believing in some kind of progressive history of humankind’s forward march to a better society, in the vein of Marx. I thought things were getting better, but in so many ways it seems to be getting worse. The Western conception of teleology simultaneously realised and completed by the end of history as neoliberalism swallows us all up with all the contradictions of advanced capitalism and no alternatives countenanced.
So is everything as bleak as it seems? No, definitely not. Stepping away from the mainstream media and discovering the bubbling mix of independent and diverse voices being given voice by the world wide web, is a powerful antidote to the prejudice, fear and othering I feel besieged by. Through Twitter and our community of praxis a plurality of perspectives are being broadcast as technology opens up spaces and provides platforms for the marginalised and their champions.
My students also offer a constant source of hope. Coming from around the world with different cultures and backgrounds, I am routinely stunned by their generosity to one another, their respect for one another and their ability to appreciate and accept difference, rather than either problematise or erase it. Perhaps there is hope for the future after all.
So to borrow from that irritatingly smug folksy fridge magnet advice to look for rainbows when it rains, maybe even when it is pouring down I mustn’t forget there will be rainbows somewhere.