I have taken more than my fair share of drugs: Morphine, Entonox, Propofol and Midazolam, all provided to relieve pain or memory of it, and delivered by a needle in the back of an ambulance or by a charming man in a red jumpsuit in ER. Dealing with the wretchedness of epilepsy necessitates such things.
Drugs don’t just stop the pain; they distort the things you are sure about, the things you should be able to rely on to be real and to do what they are supposed to do. Physical certainties like stairs suddenly fall away into a bending xylophone of color beneath your feet; your front door duplicates, then triplicates; your own fingers are suddenly made of twigs that crunch when they move. Your brain gets lost in the madness of this other place that drugs can take you, where nothing is as it was and yet still seems impossibly real.
Now I am free of both epilepsy and the related drugs. But as I watch events unfold across America, I feel strangely returned to that world again, halfway between conscious and not. Physically present but absented by other forces out of my control. Somehow I have woken up in a place where nothing makes sense and everything is warped beyond recognition.
Like a dog, I can feel myself tilting my head at the screens in front of me, trying to make sense of the picture and noises coming out of them.
America is on fire. A small woman stands in her doorway trying to protect her stores, attacked by a mob wielding planks and stones. A man in white jeans is set on by looters who take running kicks at his head. A rock is flung with full force, a man’s life ended by a stranger who first set eyes on him just thirty seconds earlier.
DC, NYC, Denver, Louisiana, Minneapolis, LA County, Atlanta, all fighting on the streets, fueled by the insanity of lives locked down, divided, unable to distinguish good from bad. It’s rather like a boiling ham frothing over with all the heat that’s been applied. If you could stop people to ask why they fight, why they threw that kick, that rock, looted this store, they would answer with a slogan or a name: George Floyd.
To wake and watch it unfold is like watching a movie about some dreadful event in the distant past – expecting it to be in black and white, only to find out that this is today, in full color and it is happening now.
Beautiful things, ugly things, expensive things, cheap things – all looted by the mob. The hand from a statue, Gucci loafers, the everyday things of Target, a strawberry cheesecake – all rushed out onto the sidewalk through shattered glass in the hands of the mob. Some are hustlers in their everyday lives, others just ordinary kids, caught up in the moment, not stopping to wonder how they ended up dressed in black with boots, masks and helmets carrying a cheesecake back home.
We are far down the Rabbit Hole.
I have watched rioters just like these at first hand, even been mistaken for being one of them, helped to run for cover and shelter by a tree. There is camaraderie among them and the shared excitement of the moment. Swept up in the noise and chaos, there is solidarity here. Not like soldiers, where the lads help each other up from the floor and applaud each other’s daring acts; the mob feels solidarity only in looting and vandalizing. For the briefest moment these anchor-less souls feel like they are part of something special, and that they belong.
Many Brits want in on the action. They look across the Atlantic with something close to envy. They are angry about Brexit, still believing they can overturn it. Coronavirus and the government’s handling of the crisis has presented a fresh angle for their rage.
And they have cause to be angry. Boris’s handling of corona has been catastrophic. Initial projections of 500,000 deaths were adopted to form misguided policy; lockdown was a nonsense and every action since has been about protecting Boris and his cabinet. Hospitals have lain empty, emergency hospitals mothballed without use, and lockdown rules apparently made up on the fly to shield the government from criticism of its misguided plan.
As a result, lockdown has become meaningless; England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales all have different lockdown rules, either adhered to or ignored, beaches and BBQs are crowded – yet most schools and businesses remain closed. And the state is paying the salaries of over 50% of the British workforce, many of whom will be unemployed the moment this government money stops.
The fire has been set.
It is clear the Left want riots and are preparing for them. Birmingham June 4, Manchester June 6, London June 7.
Holding on to the sneaker laces of #GeorgeFloyd with their finger tips, their collateral for these protests is the endless positing that BAME deaths from COVID are four time higher than white deaths. The leftist media and state broadcaster have crafted a narrative that basically suggests black people are being sacrificed in the NHS to save white lives. Locked down in high rise flats with unemployment rising faster than the record spring temperatures. The Left can see the tank is full of fuel, and are holding the lighter ready.
In the immortal words of the Kaiser Chiefs, I predict a riot.
And yet here we sit, watching the things we thought we knew questioned, and the things we voted for under attack: Trump and Brexit. The concrete truths of yesterday are now quicksand, swallowing us up with every step.
Who could have believed a virus would cause politicians to lock down free people? How did the death of one black man in custody cause riots when ten were killed by their own hand in one weekend in Chicago? How is it possible for men to hate each other this much, to want to kill a stranger over a fight neither of them started? Where are all the powerful black voices who should be calling for calm? Democrats keep pouring fuel on the fire even when their own house is ablaze. None of it makes any sense.
I walk in my garden and feel the earth to remember what is real.
We need our leaders to lead us out of this. We need a bit of honesty:
That coronavirus has been handled badly, everywhere – mainly because it could not be handled well.
That everyone is hurting in one way or another and many things we thought we knew have been turned upside-down, from our faith in each other to our jobs and our way of life.
That a man asphyxiated in the street by police is not OK, no matter what his color.
And that more anger is not the answer. It never is.
We need to work together to sort this out – find something that unites us, not this cruelty used to shove a wrench between us all.
This is the leadership President Trump delivered with his speech in the Rose Garden and bold walk to church. His is the honesty we need.
The little people trying to work hard, love their family and build them a good home are the hardest hit by all of this madness, and yet the best equipped to put this right.
Decency will do that, and decency is within the purview of us all.