It’s hard not to notice a growing restlessness and deepening sense of despondency rising up within our hearts and souls. As someone with significant long-term health problems, in need of social care, social housing and welfare benefits, I’ve felt the divide between the have’s and the have-not’s grow to exponential proportions. I’ve heard the term ‘the just about managing’ to refer to the groups of society just about holding things together but no reference to the massive group of souls in the bracket beyond this, the untouchables in society that no one really likes to talk about. It’s this group where the balance of keeping going is so fragile and brittle it can splinter and break at any moment and there’s no safety net to catch us.
I’ve not always lived in this bracket of society, I used to be in a good job, with my own home and a comfortable lifestyle. Everything changed when my health spiralled into ill-health and I didn’t get better. Perhaps a term for this group, and I count myself in this, is the ‘doesn’t matters’. It’s certainly how I feel: it’s as though being at the nether regions of society means it’s okay to be disregarded, dismissed and disrespected. I’m sick of platitudes and platitudes denouncing platitudes. This isn’t a blanket judgement of course, but I seem to spend most of my life battling just to exist. There’s no room or opportunity to thrive or grow as being a ‘doesn’t matter’ means it’s okay to overlook me as a human being and member of society. I spend most of my life having to prove how ill I am just to get the help I need and fighting to survive.
Constant cuts to the NHS, essential services, lack of social housing, local government cuts to social care etc have, over many many years, seen the pressure increase on maintaining our basic needs as a society. Where is the respect of value for human beings? If the vast majority of people are either ‘just about managing’ or ‘don’t matter’ then what kind of society does that leave us with? Surely it’s reverse logic to make life harder for everyone? If public services were funded properly and the staff paid for their dedication and the ‘doesn’t matters’ were valued and given the help and support they need, then surely as a society we could blossom rather than wither?
I know magic money trees don’t exist but if billions can be spent on nuclear deterrents and minority government bribes then it’s clear the money’s there, it’s just being directed the wrong way. What’s the point in a nuclear deterrent if the country is defeated by austerity?
The constant drive to go for the cheapest option leads to inferior and unjust outcomes, what’s the point in that? Who wins?
I am a ‘live and let live’ kind of soul. I don’t judge others and I long for a society of openness and acceptance. I also long for one of compassion, equality and unity as well, where divisions are healed between rich and poor, have’s and have not’s, and judgement of others over colour, creed, faith, health or sexuality isn’t even relevant as everyone is seen as human. Where is the love? I feel a resounding despair echoing through my heart and soul and, as hope continues to get ripped away, the future looks extremely bleak.
Is this all driven by a quest for power, where stepping on others is okay or does it come from deep personal insecurity where others can feel threatened by anything or anyone they perceive to be abnormal? Well, news flash: there’s no such thing as normal. Everyone is unique. If being different makes me abnormal then bring it on.
Yet, I struggle to breathe freely in this society as every single day is a battle to get the help I need just to get through the day. That’s not life, that’s existing.
I wholeheartedly believe life is just not meant to be like this. Surely, it’s time to open up our hearts and souls to thriving once again? This isn’t about ‘punishing’ the rich or finding someone to blame, it’s about honouring every single member of society, of supporting one another to thrive and in ensuring that no one slips through the net, fighting to exist. Maybe I’m just a naïve, daydreaming idiot but I refuse to believe it can’t get better than this.
As a ‘doesn’t matter’, particularly one with significant health problems, the blatant disregard for people like me breaks my heart. It feels like a subtle afternoon tea kind of approach to mass cleansing; a modern-day gas chamber where hope, self-belief and respect are sucked out of people so there’s nothing left. Push anyone hard enough and crush them; problem solved. Yet, I don’t want to be crushed anymore; I’m pushing back.
Fortunately for me, whilst I wholeheartedly feel the pain of being a ‘doesn’t matter’ I haven’t let it squash me. I’m a strong soul and I refuse to buy into the judgement. Yet, it’s hard. It’s hard because no matter what way I turn in society I see the judgement and I feel the collective pain. It’s everywhere and it’s been insidiously creeping into consciousness over decades. As strong as I am, it feels inevitable that it will get me one day and take me over. Have we really moved on from Victorian times? Do we really live in a progressive, inclusive, caring, outward looking society? It feels more like a ‘everyone for themselves, selfish fucker’ kind of society to me.
Of course, there are many others who either feel the pain or see it and want to change it. Yet, there are clearly many more who either don’t see it, choose not to see it or don’t care. True wealth isn’t about money, it’s about compassion and so those rich elite are, on the whole, poor. Yet, knowing this doesn’t make me feel any better. I don’t begrudge them, I just despair at the imbalance in society and the hefty weight of being a ‘doesn’t matter’. It’s time to change. Answers on a postcard, please!