This Is Not A Party Political Broadcast
There is a one legged duck in northfield. It flits between the pond beyond Victoria common and the one at Manor Farm park. And it breaks my 6 years old heart every time. This week we went to feed the ducks (seeds not bread) and my son wanted to make sure the whole bag went to the duck with one leg. His compassion is a childs compassion, its naive in some ways, lacking complication and beautiful in its focus and delivery.
Growing up I had lovely parents, an extended family of grandparents, cousins and was part of a small community church that helped my little self thrive. I was also poor. But the only way i know i was poor, was because the local school bullies told me so. I was brutally mocked at times in my childhood despite not feeling like i wanted for anything(I despair for those in poverty who didn’t/dont have the network of family and friends we had ) but i was labelled, seen, marked, sorted and labelled by society as a “thing”, then treated according to this label.
Last week at NAFcaf we ran a free showing of I Daniel Blake. People wept, as expected, most through sympathy for the horrific situation of those in the film. But one woman was different. We spoke after, she wept because, in her words, “thats me”. She hadnt eaten for 3 days. The system has failed her. She talked of the humiliation of going to the foodbank, the desperation of poverty thrust on her by the brutality of our currently world view and system.
Finally, there are a number of things, places, groups, networks we as Local Arts Forums (us in northfield, and the other 9 across this great city) come in contact with regularly through the kind of work we do. Libraries. Early Years Education. Women’s Refuges. Social Care. Advocate groups for those with disabilities. And they are being smashed, ruined, stripped of money and stripped of dignity, a pincer of financial and rhetorical violence.
Yes, the arts are getting cut too, those of us who work in this arena are being squeezed hard by the current gov, but our focus is not this, its that; its the most vulnerable, its our children, our sick, our frail, our lost and lonely. And they are being demolished, decreased, belittled, dehumanised.
Its time for better. Whatever way you want to vote, get out and vote, but do it from a place of compassion. Do it with all your heart and all your head. I challenge you to find party policies that are based on comparison for the most vulnerable, and let that sway you at least a little. Because if we cant build something beautiful and true for our children, what are we even playing at?
With love and hope
Olly, Northfield Arts Forum Coordinator
Lets have a childs love for our most vulnerable, a beautiful Â compassion for the lonely, lost and broken.
We are meeting tomorrow (thursday 1st june)at prices square Northfield at 12pm to do some Arts Against Austerty, mainly some art work with chalk on the streets, but if you have other ideas, do come tell us!. What ever party you support,or if its none at all, you are welcome to join us tomorrow (or if you cant make tomorrow, but are still interested, do email and let us know and we will do more before the election. Peace.
By Oliver Armstrong