Ninety-nine, one hundred At around 7 pm, about a mile from the office, I clocked up one hundred miles walked in January. So I went to have a celebratory drink. Feeling good about this. An eminently reachable, but worthwhile goal. Gonna get healthier. A fine thing. Then I saw the open front page of someone’s evening paper, saw the words ‘one hundred’ echoed there. Yesterday the one-hundredth British soldier died in Iraq. I knew this. So how did I forget, and focus on my private satisfaction? Because that’s what we do. We foreground the smaller trials and victories of our personal lives. Hardly wicked. Only natural. But it’s how they get away with it. Why we aren’t all out there screaming right now, rolling on the ground outside the Houses of Parliament, violating the brand-new law that bans unauthorised demonstrations within one mile of Westminster. ‘Not in my name’, as they say. It is, though, isn’t it? In my name. I’m the one who danced in the street in 1997 when this government was elected after all those long years of the other lot. Damn.
¶ 9:34 pm
If I were teaching writing I'd use this piece. An excellent way to make a necessary political comment, and I admire your dexterity, the way you show us ourselves through castigating yourself; on the other hand, I want to say, Jean, hon, don't be so hard on yourself. I do hope you enjoyed the drink. With prayers and blessings for all those in the conflagration in Iraq, on both sides. xo
Too bad there isn't some way to combine your personal and political goals - you know, a "walk for peace" or something. In any case, I don't think it's quite accurate to say that trials and victories are trivial because they are personal. If anything, I think it's the collective celebrations that are a little suspect - as I guess you've discovered.