Not the news

Every morning, the first thing I do when I wake up is reach for my phone. Access to the world, I think to myself. Time to get educated and get ‘up to speed’ with what has happened since yesterday at roughly the same time, I tell myself.

Every morning I do this. And every morning I regret doing it. My Twitter feed and my news alerts are generally just a litany of horrible, horrible people and stories and events. And I don’t even follow many slebs or any horrible people. No, no, these are headlines from reputable newspapers and magazines from all over the world, and they all tell a slightly different version of the same woeful tale. We are all doomed.

My home country of Zimbabwe in in the throes of what I hope is the eviction of a most terrible dictator. I have already had to give up my rights to citizenship in the country of my birth and now hold an ID card that states I was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, but that my citizenship status is alien. I am one of the ‘lucky’ ones, or maybe one of the cowards. I left my home 16 years ago of my own volition. My heart bleeds for those who have remained, or have had no choice but to remain. They are now standing up and fighting for their country. But their leaders now seem intent on taking complete control of what few resources remain, and police beatings and starvation are rife. This beautiful country with its peace-loving people is in a state of anarchy and yet the world stands by and does nothing.

Haiti has lost villages and, at the latest count, about 1,000 people. Aid is struggling to get to these outlying places. Disease is adding to the horror. This is a human tragedy. The world should be pouring in to help or be in mourning as they would if this tragedy involved terror. And the papers? Well, they lead with articles about a loose cannon of an individual who is inexplicably in a position of imminent power and how he likes to boast about grabbing women by the genitalia … because he can.

This leads me on to the fact that everyone is ranting about this boast being the last straw, a fact which never ceases to amaze me. How is it that only now a last straw has been cast? Where was the outcry when this individual claimed that all Mexicans were rapists, or that it was perfectly OK to slaughter the family of terrorists, or that you should definitely vote for him if you had been told you were terminally ill? What is the world coming to? This is a rhetorical question — it must be, because I have tried and tried to answer it and have failed every time.

My news round-ups then lead me to another sinking island, only this one is not sinking as the result of a hurricane, curiously named after one of the apostles, but rather as the result of the bungling and bumbling of a group of people who call themselves politicians. I suspect that these bungling and bumbling folk would probably have got along just fine and remained undetected if one of them hadn’t opened up a certain referendum thereby giving voice to those with extreme opinions, especially with regard to ‘foreigners’. Suddenly the bunglers and bumblers had to show that they were in control. That they knew what they were doing. This has not gone well.

It seems to me, one who knows very little about economics or running a country (I am from Zimbabwe, I only know how a dictatorship works), that this was a particularly ill-thought-out referendum with little regard or consideration given to the knock-on effect of the results. I have tried very hard during the last three months to see a positive in this Brexit result, but have had to admit failure along the same lines experienced in trying to answer questions about Trump.

At this stage, closing the doors to the world albeit physically, culturally, economically, is to invite disaster. It is to allow the xenophobes to believe they are right to hate anyone who is different. It is to strip out the richness that results from cultures mingling together. It is to become an island in every sense, one that is devoid of the ability to learn from people who are different. Closing the doors to refugees is inhumane. Where does one draw the line between a refugee and an ‘immigrant’? We are all immigrants to some degree. Once you have left your home country, you will always be an immigrant, no matter where you go. Some are lucky to leave with money or possessions. Others are lucky to leave with their lives and with their families. Only when you arrive in a country where you are welcomed by the citizens of that country may you feel safe, or comfortable. What is the world coming to when one of the most accepting places in the world has seemingly done a 180 degree about turn and now wants a list of every man, woman and child who is foreign? Perhaps people will start changing names to hide identity — something that has happened repeatedly throughout history.

My solution to it all right now? I am going to avoid reading the news first thing in the morning. It does not set one up well for the day. In the long run it will not change the fact that we are all doomed, but perhaps another positive soul floating around might make a positive difference, just for that day.

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