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No alarms and no opinions

  • 04 December 2015

In November 2015 I didn't have much of an opinion. I lived, as many of us did, between various jobs and personal commitments and financial worries.

I pulled clothes from my wardrobe and piled them up to take to the consignment store. I tried to save some unhappy pot plants. I found some nice heirloom tomatoes at a grocer down the street. I discovered that my local bakery makes a more generous falafel platter on weekdays than they do on weekends.

In November 2015 I did not change my profile picture to a European flag. I did not post a link to a fresh journalistic insight into a large gang of men with machetes who, like bored teens, are desperate to make something happen, to feel relevant in the empty ravine of history.

I felt mild joy for Myanmar, but if I am honest, I don't know enough about Myanmar to legitimately feel anything about it. I felt a generic brand of indignant that the Bamako attacks went relatively unnoticed, that no-one changed their profile pictures to the Mali flag after 170 people were taken hostage there. And then my indignation dissolved when I remembered that I didn't know what the Mali flag looked like.

In November 2015 I was neither all that shocked nor especially appalled. I felt sad at all the lives wasted to murder and those wasted to a dogmatism that prohibits love.

I felt a blank kind of sadness for my friends who had to demonstrate having opinions because their silence would be read as something sinister. I felt even sadder for friends who demonstrated an opinion when there was no reason at all for them to, except that they needed to have their morality heard.

I felt an existential kind of sadness for young people, who acutely understand the world they are entering but are, for now, powerless to change it. But I also felt sad for the adults I know whose lives are almost just as wasted by working jobs that bring them just enough money to pay for the therapy they require from working their jobs.

In November 2015 I neither innovated nor synergised. I did not attend an un-conference, or eat a novel consumer item at a multi-million-dollar fitted out café. I did not catch a flying jaffle.

I did not ask the question 'what if?'. I did, however, drink a beer at a pub that used to have a