I’ve been having a bit of a tough time of late with my health, so been in bed a lot more than usual. I’ve spent a lot of time reading, thinking, commenting and re-reading comments, posts and blogs about issues that are important to me. Social Welfare being on of them.
(Feel free to have a wee read of some of the thoughts that poured out of my head in the previous blog post.)
One theme that has been resurfacing recently is the conversation around class. Now, I’m solidly working class. I was born and raised in an extremely impoverished area of Glasgow called Shettleston. I’ve written about my upbringing on here before so I won’t go into detail of the impact and affects that had on my teenage years into adulthood but I will say that like most people from my era, it shaped every part of my being. I have strong working class values that I live by and I won’t accept that because I am where I am in life now, (not that it’s anywhere but thats a different story!) that I don’t have empathy for those who are now in a position I once was in, and could be again.
Let’s be clear here, no-one can tell me who or what I am, I own that. I recognize my privilege.
This idea that we are all only one decision away from a very different life is never far from my mind. I won’t accept that the numbers on my bank balance reflect who I am as a person, because right now I would be pretty grim. (Read into that what you will!)
Now, I’m no Marx or Engels by any means but I do believe that we live in a society now where class has evolved; it’s fluid. The days of dividing society into “Haves” and “Have-Nots” has in many ways moved on. We live in a capitalist society now but not everyone believes in capitalist values. It’s more complicated than just that.
We cannot talk about class and remove humanity or consciousness. We can’t assume that because someone is a member of a different class NOW they lack kindness, consciousness or empathy. Of course there are people who choose not to see injustice, but there are toxic, selfish people in every walk of life.
We must treat everyone with dignity and respect – my working class upbringing taught me that.
Most people from various backgrounds today, whatever class they identify as, can see that there are systematic changes that need to occur in Britain today in order to repair the damage caused by this Tory government. #EndToryRule (and I believe this all stems from Thatcher rule and New Labour.)
We only have to switch on the TV and we’re faced with poverty porn like Born Famous or Benefit Street. We watch the news, documentaries, movies (Dispossession and I, Daniel Blake to name a few.) and read the newspapers, books (like Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey) to see that housing/homelessness, child homelessness, mental health, benefit cuts, death due to homelessness, food bank usage, access to equal education, drug use…the list goes on, are at an all time high. It’s a shameful state we are living in, and no-one is exempt from feeling something about this situation. But, what we have to remember too, is that 1% of the population own the same resources as the other 99%, so with that in mind, it tells me that we are actually more alike than we are different. There is more that unites us than divides us.
Being divisive will not change any of the problems we face as a society today, only being united will do that. Pitting us against each other will not bring any of these issues to the forefront any more or less, using our voices will do that – however loud your voice is, or wherever it came from.
I think recognising your privilege and using it to affect change is more effective for society than putting people in a box and labelling them apathetic or detached.
We all have a role to play. Maybe I’m being naive and idealist but I know my story, I know where my heart is…and where it will stay – deeply rooted in my people, and my people regardless of class can make ripples into waves, if we all just work together.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this one?
***(This post was originally written for Instagram but I’ve included it here for my own catalogue. Edited slightly.)***