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I felt it deeply, you know.
For those of us who value diversity and have it reflected in our work, lives and communities, this was a strike against what we believed was the status quo. How has the world’s largest superpower followed an alarming global trend that supports hateful and divisive rhetoric?
I’ve been taught differently since Sesame Street. These ideals were imported in, which is perhaps why I personally felt let down by them. To expect better, to rebel against oppression, to demand more, and to be that change. My instinct tells me to reject anything that challenges these ideals unequivocally. Yet, here we are the morning after, with the realization that I could have done a lot more to understand the societal fault-lines that have brought us here.
The thing is, when you get to half the population that seemingly repudiate the values that many of us hold dear, because these are the same people that feel hard done by a society who they say has left them behind, maybe we should have asked why. This is not about dissent of the ignorant– though they are out there too – people who feel their vitriol is validated. They are part of, but not representative of the silent majority.
This rise of the far or alternative right is steadfast and widespread and I suspect for reasons beyond what is immediately apparent. We can’t blame it all on Caucasian men, or women not having other women’s backs, or anything else that can be explained neatly and tied in a bow. We also can’t blame the DNC and Clinton scandals without looking at why Trump’s were ignored.
When you boil it all down, the republicans had a candidate that its own party reviled, but whom the voters identified with. We saw the opposite with Clinton. Voter turnout did the rest.
We must let ourselves consider that people who vote for the likes of Trump or Duterte were willing to look past deplorable levels of misogyny, because of what more was promised. Those that support Pauline Hanson and Brexited were willing to bear the stigma of intolerance because they felt they had no control. Feelings of disenfranchisement in systems that are leaving them poorer and rallying around characters with perceived authenticity – despite what absolute tripe comes out of their mouths.
Maybe all they saw was an opportunity cost. (Electing a climate change denier, as an opportunity cost – Holy shit.)
We knew enough to know this was possible, but what I ask now, and what I asked last night at Peel Street Poetry was how could we not know it was this possible. This is beyond policy – this is a problem at grassroots levels.
In Hong Kong, I feel as though we are in the midst of an ideological war. In many ways I live in a bubble within a bubble. When Brexit happened I was scandalized because I expected better. After last night I was saddened not because I was wrong to expect progress to prevail – but because I was so off the mark with what progress meant. I wanted to hear the shards from that shattered glass ceiling fall even here in Asia. That inclusion dispels fear, that love trumps hate. I wanted the US to be that example to buck the trend, not confirm it.
I am afraid of what will come next, but I also feel that this year has helped me realize that there is work to be done. Those imported ideals weren’t wrong, they just needed to be actioned.
I’ll keep doing it the best way I know how. A meeting of minds and merging of narratives. A place for expression and community.
We need our poets and artists, our photographers and storytellers. We need to let the communities we are a part of that are hurt most by this to know that we will validate their sadness, and we will continue to be on the side of history that visibly and unequivocally stood by them to support equality, social justice and freedom of expression.
If you’re in Hong Kong, come be a part of the conversation. No surprises for next time.
Peel Street Poetry – Every Wednesday except the first Wednesday of the month @ Orange Peel.
We’re back in the swing of things with back to school, something that my colleagues could have attested to at the beginning of this week to those that watched me scream obscenities – albeit telepathically – at the fax machine.
We ended summer with a final happy day at the beach. The littler of the two wee Gallaghers, on several occasions attempted to walk into the ocean. I tried to get her to help me collect shells but she was more interested in standing at the shoreline and taking it all in. I can’t say I blame her. Her older brother dug a hole, mostly – not wholly unexpected behaviour for your average four year old. As we’re technically in China, I was looking forward to see where the hole would lead to before remembering that we were on a man-made beach and the prospect of more concrete wasn’t very exciting at all – to either of us.
We’ll definitely be going back soon, for more shells and sand and walks across water and holes to the other side of the world. I did end up with a few choice shells and as I was checking them to make sure there weren’t any sea squishes I was about to accidentally re-home it struck me that mother nature’s been recycling well before we ever identified a need to. Nature innovates. (More on that later)
I was surprised with the below drawings in my inbox from my friend Keon Lee. I had a vague desire to get the Gallagher family cartoon-i-fied which I casually mentioned on Facebook only to be surprised with these caricatures of Me, Angus, and the kids. Which do you think captures us best?
I should start using Facebook like a magic lamp more often.
The only thing better than having awesome friends is having multi-talented awesome friends like the same Mr. Keon Lee who is also in My Big Gay Italian Wedding From 25-29 September @ The Fringe Club. Angus and I will be going – Tickets sold at HK Ticketing.
I’ve decided to give the WordPress iPhone app a go in an attempt to get this post out before the weekend, so thanks to rapidly changing user expectations, I am finishing this post via my commute home. The pollution has thinned thankfully after Tuesday’s midnight thundering (responsible in part for the fun hump-day exhaustion) and it hangs over Tsing Ma bridge for the first time this week like gauze. Having grown up in Hong Kong, I am no stranger to poor air quality given the pros and cons of living here, this issue is of tater-tot proportions within the small potato category — (#FirstWorldProblems anyone?) and it’s pretty easy to forget that we all share a part in the bigger, spuddy issues of modern living . Hasn’t pollution always been a negative externality on the road to development?
I was at a fascinating talk a couple of months ago by Vijay Vaitheeswaran, Global correspondent to The Economist and author of Need, Speed and Greed –How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness and Tame the World’s Most Wicked Problems.
This interview goes into some aspects of his talk: Innovation in the age of Globalization and Googlization.To paraphrase poorly, Vijay defines innovation as an action that addresses a need that goes on to create good, he gave some great examples from the Industrial Revolution to Kiva. He argues that in the wake of a population crisis, a failing global economy and climate change that the conditions are primed for the next big revolution, or at least to create innovation ‘clusters’ (think Silicon Valley). Of the many interesting points he made during his talk, I liked what he had to say about mobile and how mobile technology enables disruptive innovations from the bottom up. To quote the article; ‘a school child in Africa with a cell phone has more information at her fingertips than an American President did in 1970.’
After the talk and the Q&A I asked him how would he condense his talk (aimed at a room full of entrepreneurs which I was crashing) so my four year old would understand it. This was his advice:
Sound advice. I’m getting his book.
I’ve always been a big believer that when it comes to connectivity on the web, that the platform doesn’t matter. Platforms are the product of innovation in their own way. Innovation in the digital age has a lot to do with higher levels of connectivity and fresh ground to collaborate on. So platforms that respond to user behaviour are the ones that tend to make an impact. In my late teens DeviantART answered the need I had to create, consume and share poetry which eventually lead me to (c0)set up Poetry on Peel Street at Joyce is Not Here Artist Bar and Cafe And how without Joyce is Not Here I would not have met my husband or know many of the incredible people we do.
Perhaps DeviantART or Joyce is Not Here isn’t everyone’s definition of ‘innovation’ but I think it’s made of the same stock as the big social hubs. They both addressed a need and with time transformed into their versions of an innovation cluster.
Much like the day those caricatures dropped in my inbox, a few years ago I logged onto DeviantArt and was surprised by this painting of a 17 year old me with words of a poem I wrote aged 17 by the artist Sam Raffa. This remains one of the best presents I’ve ever received by someone whose path I would have never crossed otherwise. I’ll say it again – it’s not about the platform. Places, real or virtual come and go, but their value lies in the connections they enable. So far, that’s whats changed my world, and forgive the pun – but it’s been a pretty great ride.
I wrote a poem a couple of years ago about how I use freeverse like a ‘little black dress’ to to conceal the fact that my writing gets as much attention as I give anything else outside the realm of being a functioning adult with human relationships, kids, a job, animals, and well, twitter (that is, not a whole lot). All managed with a borderline adulterous relationship with some form of caffeine.
I finished this poem with this;
” Free-verse for every stanza unwritten,
So this time does not fade into the forgotten.”
OK. Thoughts on the bus and in the shower, ideas that lose their steam, memories and conversations I would like to keep — I’ve given you your stage.