Raging against needless suffering.


Yesterday I felt sad. Today I feel angry. I am wired, hypervigilant. My sleep’s gone to shit again and even double medication won’t help. At yoga this morning, I was distracted by any tiny sound or move around me. In the cafe with my sister, always a joy, the clatter and chatter around us felt ten times louder than it actually was. My brain was in pieces. I wanted to stand up, freeze frame the action, climb out of the scene and scream.

I don’t know if this has been the sole trigger but I keep thinking of the Russian bombing of the maternity and children’s ward in Ukraine yesterday. I can’t absorb the wrongness of it.

Even the most charmed life holds suffering: loss, hurt, disappointment are part of being alive. What I can’t process is the waste and tragedy of suffering that didn’t need to happen; that is on the whim of a fucked-up person in a position of power.

I’m not naive. I know that the context and causes of war are political, economic, territorial. And I know that there are others around the world subjected to occupation, devastation and violence who deserve to be on our radar to the same degree as the people of Ukraine. And let’s not forget black people in Ukraine refused refuge across the border because of racism.

But I also can’t stop questioning how we keep being at the mercy of deranged narcissists and sociopaths: people whom our political systems have helped, or certainly not prevented, taking power; people that have no business being in power: people that should have been kept away from power at all fucking cost.

The racist, bragging sexual predator who recently ruled The United States; The self-serving, smirking bullshitter getting away with whatever he wants here in the UK; Putin’s unchecked macho expansionism wreaking murderous havoc in Ukraine: What are we supposed to do beyond watching in impotent horror?

I limit my news intake to avoid being in a permanent state of emotional overwhelm, but I don’t want ignorance. I don’t want to turn away from the responsibility we all bear towards the suffering of others. Nor do I want to seek solace in numbness.

I admire those whose drive against injustice leads to activism. I’ve been to protests, listened to speeches. Tried to think beyond the moment to the forces that created this carnage; to what needs to happen to stop its repetition. I breathe, write, fail to sleep and wonder if trying to live with compassion and connection is of any use against the cruelty surrounding us.

I don’t know. There is – also – still – goodness. There is nature and art and love. In my own small world I know this; try to look after my sanity, keep ahold of hope. But, please, can you tell me how to take the power away from murderers and abusers and while we’re at it, from the systems that create and favour them?

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