For many of us, still recovering from the shock of an unimaginable election result, it is a real challenge to face the coming festivities with anything approaching joyfulness. The UK has voted for more of the same – more austerity, more hatred, more greed and more lies…many in my twitter feed are still in shock. The words of festive songs sound hollow when those who work in the public sector to help others have been given the message that the “public” don’t care. We wonder how long it will be before the state is further reduced and the vulnerable become the abandoned.
In my personal context, a victory for the Tories means continued fighting for the protection and support our disabled son deserves. He suffers from an “invisible disability” which leads to communication and social difficulties. Throughout his childhood and education we have advocated on his behalf to get him the help he needs with some success. Now an adult, he is able to participate in some work related activity (unpaid of course, there is a cost for such “opportunities”) The DWP with its culture of hostility towards those who need support will continue to present barriers to his progress, annual “interviews” where he is asked if he has suicidal thoughts – I cannot bear to continue to put him through this again. How can I be joyful?
There is joy in embracing what has to be done. Joy in recognising that, even when the outlook is bleak, those around us can bring comfort and solidarity. Joy in becoming “l’homme révolté“. I am grateful to those lecturers and teachers who showed me how to understand the words of Albert Camus, they did much more than they knew at the time, thanks to them I have an approach to life that is serving me well.
The tools of joy include – gratitude; generosity; kindness and compassion. There are many in personal situations worse than ours, some who despite the precarity of their situation have voted for their own destruction. Our joy must also be fierce: we must hold others to account, call out the untruths, highlight the oppression and stand up for what is right. The future is ugly but we must grasp the present and live with passion to restore meaning to our lives despite everything. Joy can be very irritating to those who would like to pull us down, I will be a thorn in the side of the oppressor. There is much work to be done.