Categories
connecting mental health

Psychological Privatisation

Jubilee Beacon, Pensarn, Conwy

I came across this idea from a Writer’s HQ newsletter and cannot find where to find out much more. This phrase “psychological privatisation” comes from Mark Fisher, who wrote Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, which I have not read but it is the quote from Goodreads and the paraphrasing from Writers HQ then what happened with the majority of the Jubilee beacons that got me thinking.

Disclaimer – I am not being negative of the Jubilee beacons. I think they were amazing and I loved both the turn out in my town and the whole concept, and the video by George Frost which I have taken this still from. I just think with all these things combined they are saying something about the times we are living in.

So I’ll start with the quote from Mark Fisher that was on Goodreads

“Instead of accepting the vast privatization of stress that has taken place over the last thirty years, we need to ask: how has it become acceptable that so many people, and especially so many young people, are ill? The ‘mental health plague’ in capitalist societies would suggest that, instead of being the only social system that works, capitalism is inherently dysfunctional, and that the cost of it appearing to work is very high.”


https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/9807275-instead-of-accepting-the-vast-privatization-of-stress-that-has

Or as Jo put it – and I paraphrase the paraphrasing –

Work and life demand too much of us so we are exhausted so we don’t ask our fellow human beings for help, for a better way of doing things. Instead we “try to make ourselves more efficient, push ourselves harder, buy into mindfulness and productivity strategies”, journal more, “and think the problem lies with us and not all the bullshit going on out there.” So we try to be “better” humans, more organised, do more, go faster, earn more, use our leisure time more “wisely”, then all would be fine.

All this stops us being more creative with our solutions and also more connected. It affects our mental health, leaving us more depressed, more anxious, more insular. It also, because we are tired, causes us to accept this crazy status quo and not be able to look for something different. Or even see that this is not working

So then along comes the Jubilee beacons. Now beacons of old were to send messages between communities either to say the enemy was in sight, a monarch was on their way, or as was had a long the North Wales coastline – a series of beacons that said a certain ship had been sighted off the coast of Anglesey and was on its way to Liverpool docks; that it had made a successful crossing. Beacons were for connection and for “passing it onwards.” The ones that happened on 2nd June all did happen at the same time with the same tune played and the same words said. Brilliant. But our little beacon did not see any other beacons and could not be seen by any other beacons. Also once everyone started to go home it was turned off and the burner taken home. There is no residue of a bonfire on our beach, whereas in times past these beacons would be left to burn out so everyone had a chance to see them.

I have a vague memory of lighting Jubilee beacons for the Queen’s 25th Jubilee, but they involved climbing to the top of a hill where the beacons of old were light and then the beacons were light one after the other. It all does happen very quickly.

But I think these beacons this year were a sign of how we are less connected at a deeper level. We are tired after the long pandemic, Brexit, strange election results in this country and the US, a war in Ukraine, the instability of life. Even with regard to the monarchy there is an instability. the Queen is not going to live much longer and then what? We don’t know. And when we try to talk about it we talk without listening.

I think the beacons were a sign. They were wonderfully organised, were efficient, used people’s time “wisely” but actually did not connect one community to another. At least not in a deep, supportive, holistic, “we need to change what we’re doing” sort of way. No trusting each other to “pass it on”.

Categories
Confict Russia Ukraine

War! What is it good for? ….

Sunrise over snow taken from a tank by Diane Woodrow's son Ben
Taken by my son four years ago

And finishing the line of Edwin Starr’s song – War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! – and I think that is one of the things that breaks my heart the most, not just for this invasion by Russia into Ukraine but for all the other wars, conflicts and atrocities that are going on across the world – many of which have been going on so long they don’t make headlines any more. They are old news and no one cares.

Because we live in an age of instant news we know moment by moment what is going on in Ukraine. I wonder if World War One would have panned out differently if people could have seen videos from the trenches and seen the waste of life. Because whether medieval war or modern war or all wars in between that is all that is ever achieved by war – loss of life.

Ok so the leaders are no longer riding into battle but one day they will died. No matter how invincible Putin or despots think they are, or even good leaders for that matter, they will all die. And they will be remember in various different ways by the generations that follow them in certain ways but they will still be dead, along with all those they led into this war.

My heart aches to know of the civilians in Ukraine who are taking weapons against fellow human beings. To see women making Molotov cocktails sitting together chatting is heartbreaking. No one should want to hurt or main another human being but they are being led down that road.

So maybe the Edwin Starr song should say “War, what is it good for? Encouraging innocent people to hate others”. And that is the saddest thing to me.

The picture at the top was taken by my son in January 2019 on maneuvers in Estonia. Even though I have mixed emotions about my son being in the army I am also proud of how he is developing as a human being. But also I love this photo because it shows such beauty with the sun rising and glistening off the snow and the tank.

One of my prayers will be that there is beauty comes from not just this atrocity but from all the awful things that going on through the world. I want a world full of hope to live in and I see it within some of the disadvantaged young people I work with. I just pray they can taken it onwards across the world to touch even the hearts of people like Putin, Trump, and others whose names do not come to me at the moment.

With hope we will not be afraid – or so I believe.