Sunday, 1 April 2012

No hatred or bitterness for anyone

The best way to enjoy your first long haul flight: combine lack of sleep with the first day of your period. The best way to return to work after your second long haul flight: a six day work week culminating in seven hellish hours on Saturday minuting two Board meetings, including one which you only found out you were required to attend ten minutes after it started ("Do I have time to get a bit of toast? I haven't had breakfast yet." "NO! NOW!"), and one which featured the following incident:

"He's a bit wary of working closely with the Board, probably because in his last job for a mental health charity, where every member of the Board was bipolar."


"Well, no wonder!"
"Was the boardroom padded?"
"Can you imagine!"
"Bipolar board!"

This went on for, and I am not exaggerating, about five minutes. At one point the Chair turned to me and said, "You're looking very thoughtful, we are being rather irreverant!" I said, "Well, I have depression, so..." but I'm not sure if she heard me over the CACOPHONY OF HILARITY.

If you've never heard the sound of twelve people in genuine hysterics at the idea of people with disabilities in positions of power, you haven't lived.

Wanna know the best bit? This is the board of a disability charity. Almost all of them either have the condition in question or care for family members who do. They had just spent ten minutes discussing what adjustments would be necessary to allow the new Chair to lead meetings given that she is also deaf. If anyone had made a similar crack about haha, the very idea of a Board of people in wheelchairs!, there would have been outrage, and quite rightly. Haha, the very idea of people who actually have experience of a disability running a charity dedicated to that exact disability! It's political correctness gone mad! Mad! Hahaha, mad!

I think this is the difference between people who come to charity work out of a desire to Do Good (which has its own problems, of course), and those who have one specific issue which they want to address in isolation. I mean, don't get me wrong, we all come to social justice because we're pissed off about something that affects us personally, but - hopefully - we then start to see the bigger picture. It's a never-ending process, learning that the world isn't actually perfect apart from the sexism, or the racism, or the one particular neurological condition that is getting in the way of our ideal life.

I know that beating yourself up for not being The Perfect Activist is a pointless endeavour, but as an aspiration, you've gotta love Edith Cavell. Patriotism is not enough: I must have no hatred or bitterness - or, hey, derision - for anyone in my heart.


  1. This is very sad and I would have found it incredibly frustrating and fairly upsetting. But mostly hella anger-making. Have you sort of mentioned what you thought to the Chair or your boss or anything? Maybe tis a good opportunity for EDUCATION.

    Lurve xx

  2. It was quite akin to being kicked in the gut, yeah. I did have a chat with my boss about it, but didn't really feel able to raise a stink at the time - apart from the usual "I am so horrified I literally have no words" thing, it's a weird position, being The Lowly Administrator, there to take minutes, not to contribute, even when everyone there is Wrong. I will talk to the Chair though. EDUCATION TIME!

    Thanks chuck x