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In which I have another of those uncomfortable epiphanies

December 6, 2012

Twelve hours ago I permanently altered my body.

Around my right wrist, I now have the words, ‘Until we are all free we are none of us free’.

And then I was a massive douchebag to someone I love in a way that contradicted that sentiment.

How could I get it so wrong? I thought I knew what I was doing. I am such an idiot.

And it got me thinking, maybe I got it wrong? Maybe this was the wrong thing to do. Maybe I’ve just made a fucking huge mistake. Was I taking it too far? Can I even live up to the sentiment I’ve chosen? Will I keep getting it wrong? Probably.

The world is filled with injustice. With ways in which power is exercised and mechanisms which deny us the power to change both our circumstances and the circumstances of those around us. Our actions infringe upon others in ways that are hard to change, predict or often even recognise.

As a British person, it is currently practically impossible for me to avoid perpetuating a system which enslaves people around the world in my service. The very act of putting clothes on my body and food in my mouth means using structures and systems which oppress those who grow and produce those fabrics, clothes and foods. Can I ever influence them?

The answer is yes, but not easily.

I thought I knew what I was doing, but I have not only expressed a sentiment, but laid down a challenge to myself which will last my whole life.

It is vanishingly unlikely that I will personally effect the changes necessary to remove or dismantle the power relationships that currently exist that disempower most of the world in the service of the few. But I can do my best.

We are all a work in progress, and so is the system in which we operate.

I will do what I can to change it. To work towards a world in which we are all free. I can do nothing more. Until then, I am not free. I accept my challenge to myself.

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One Comment
  1. Anonymous permalink

    I think this is a really powerful post. We’re always going to get it wrong, do things we regret, make mistakes. The thing that defines the type of person we are is how we deal with that, and dealing with it by trying to make it right, by admitting fault and working to fix that fault, that’s real strength of character. It’s so much harder than people think it is to go “Yep, that was a mistake. Let’s fix that.”

    You can do your best. You can change the world, even if it’s a small amount in a small corner to make it a marginally better place. I think you were, are and will remain a champion of genuine freedom. I wouldn’t trust everyone with those words around your wrist. I trust you with them.

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