It used to be that people who climbed mountains, went into space or saved lives were the bravest amongst us. It used to be that you had to do something extraordinary to be considered brave. Nowadays bravery is found in the small things, the small every day acts of normality. We ordinary people are the bravest amongst us as we dare to live. We dare to go the cinema or bar after work, we have the audacity to want to see a concert or grab some culture. The nerve of us, travelling by public transport and working in high risk buildings such as schools and offices.
Each night as we lay our heads down and run through the litany of near death experiences (otherwise known as daily routine) we sometimes forget how lucky we are to be alive. We cheated death once more today. We were not the victim of a terrorist, extremist plan and tomorrow we will rise and fight again.
We are buttoned into our small lives. We are forced to deal with problem after problem, very few of which we created ourselves.
We bear the brunt of bankers stealing money and not going to jail. We deal with cuts to housing benefits and child support, while politicians abuse the expenses system. We lose generations of people because governments go to war for oil. We watch those in power turn a blind eye to rapes or paedophile scandals all because the perpetrator is a ‘celebrity’. We work for less than a living wage and realize that we’ll have to work until we drop dead because there is no such thing as a decent pension any more.
We suffer all these things. But worse than that, it has become so routine that we don’t even realize we are suffering. In fact we are told we are not suffering. The media shoves a message down our throats, telling us how lucky we are and we swallow it. We swallow lies about refugees or immigrants who are simultaneously stealing our jobs and lounging around on benefits. We swallow hour after hour of bullshit paid for by a small group of people running the show.
I, for one, am tired of the bullshit. I am tired of feeling weary every time I look at a news bulletin or scroll down my Facebook feed. I am tired of people dying to serve some bigger twisted political game. I tired of being told that I can mourn for Paris but I can’t mourn for people in Beirut, or Iraq or Afghanistan. I am tired of hearing about children killed in acts of war, or little babies washed ashore because they needed to escape their war torn country. I am tired of being told which victim my heart can break for, because, to be honest, my heart breaks for them all. I am tired of people forgetting how human we all are, in spite of the monstrous acts we commit as a society.
I struggle for a way to process the grief and still be able to function. In this age of social media, the way we show solidarity with these events are hashtags and profile picture changes. I am not changing my Facebook profile picture to match the colours of the French flag, not because I don’t feel their pain but because I feel that I’d need to change it daily to keep up with the flow of horrific deaths that occur.
I struggle to remind myself to be brave, to step outside the door and live with some semblance of normality. To travel to far-flung places and not get eaten up by other people’s stereotypes and judgmental attitude.
I struggle to greet the world with a smile and an open heart, some days I fail and some days I don’t, but every day I try. I surround myself with a tribe of people who feel the same way. We come from different countries, religions, skin tones and political backgrounds but essentially we recognise the bravery in each other. We support each other in the small acts of courage, hoping that one day, we can stop being brave about small things and tackle the bigger things.
Killing people, has never, in the history of the world, solved a problem. It sends ripples of hate into the common consciousness and has a knock on effect of more killing, more bloodshed, more loss. These acts of hatred and cowardice will never be productive because I know I am not alone in my bravery. I see it in others. I see it on the news, I see people helping and opening their homes and hearts to people who have been hurt, regardless of their religious moniker or the shade of their skin. If you are one of these brave souls, then I am grateful for your presence. I recognise how tough your job is and I applaud you whole-heartedly for doing it. If you are not one of these souls, I hope you meet one some day soon.
Good luck to us all. We are each fighting a battle, we are doing the best we can. Let’s celebrate the small victories each day.