It’s been a long time since I put figurative pen to virtual paper. Sometime between Brexit and the overtures of Trumpaggedon the fire in my belly became bile in the back of my throat and I’ve had to sit very still for fear of what might emerge from me.
So let’s keep this fairly short and to the point. I’ve seen the social media reaction of my American friends, all of them compassionate, intelligent, liberal… wonderful people. I’ve seen the news and the reactions of our politicians.
And like a lot of people, I really want to punch a Nazi. In the willing association with times as dark as any in modern history there is something so abhorrent that it overrides my instinct to want to understand, to build bridges. I just want to punch a Nazi.
Fortunately, I live in Bristol, where Nazis are in short supply. Bristol, the pro-European, tolerant and laid back corner of England, where if I see a swastika it will be on a piece of vibrantly indignant street art.
So no punching. And if the pen is mightier than the sword, then perhaps the keyboard is mightier than my puny, middle-class fists? For all that anyone cares about my opinion then yes, I condemn the white supremacists, the anti-semites, the hatred mongers. I condemn the politicians who refuse to speak out and the media outlets that perpetuate prejudice, fear and hatred.
In the absence of Nazis to punch, I’ll raise my hands to fight in a different trench. We have a little revolutionary army here in Bristol. Helpfulpeeps was started by two Bristolians. A couple of weeks ago, through that community, I helped out for half a day working with a local charity; building furniture and getting a house ready for a family of displaced Syrians. Racists can march and spew hatred all they like. All it will drive me to do is to help people even more. I’m giving them all two fingers and they don’t even get to find out about it. That’s the wonderful thing about a community like that. Yes, there are people filling the world with hatred – but we can find other places to fill it with love, decency, kindness.
It may lack the Hollywood glamour of a fist to a bigoted jaw but I’m pretty sure that if I keep doing it, I’ll feel better eventually.
Take comfort in the knowledge that every day will present you with chances to make the world a better place. There might not be something to punch but there’s always a way to join in the fight.