Thursday, 17 November 2011


I'm Jaime. I talk too much, if rather incoherently at times, and I've been talking about the Christmas Spirit Campaign a lot at the moment. Why am I doing this? People keep asking me that question when I tell them about it. I am normally not very good at expressing myself. I lack the ability to inspire empathy, to communicate the depth of emotion I feel. In this instance, the rage and the horror at what's happening go so deep that it's easy. This is what I've been telling people who ask that question.


In my world, there are some things that human beings just don't do.

You do not hurt someone because they cannot do what you want them to, or because they are inconvenient. You do not pick on the old, the sick, the needy, or the destitute to protect yourself and those like you. You do not, ever, hurt people because you are big and they are small, because you have power and they do not, because you are rich and they are poor, because you are healthy and able and they are sick and disabled.

You just don't. It. Is. Wrong.

If you do this anyway, against every standard of decency and morality, throwing ethics to the wind, you are not a human being any more. You are not a person. You are a bully. You are a coward, because all bullies are cowards who do not have the strength and courage to solve the problem properly, or the sense to admit it and ask for help. And you are evil. In the very truest, most basic sense, you are evil, black as night.

It is repugnant to hurt those who have no way to fight back and no protector who can stand up to you. It is wrong, deeply, intrinsically wrong. It is lazy, stupid, cowardly and vicious. It is monstrous.

Some monsters should not walk under the living sky[1]. Some things cannot be permitted to stand. And oppression, by the very nature of it, creates the rage and the commitment that will bring it down. It doesn't always happen straight away, it's not always what we thought it would be or wanted it to be like, it doesn't necessarily even mean that something better will arise in the place of what has been destroyed, and there's no guarantee it will feel like a blessing. But it will happen. Change is the only inevitable thing in the universe.

Sooner or later, vicious, monstrous regimes create the conditions that will destroy them – but that needs people to do what they can, however small. One tiny snowflake can be enough to finally cause the avalanche that sweeps away a mountainside. One final person, saying 'No. Not in my name' can be the tipping point that ends the nightmare, for those who can't defend themselves, because they are struggling just to survive.

People have tipping points, too. The final inch where no-one can push you further, where you realise that the only upside of having nothing left to lose is that you now have total freedom of conscience. When you stop caring about the consequences and the cost. When something in you rebels, and refuses to be part of the evil – even just being complicit by saying nothing. Mine was when I heard the story of what happened to Mark and Helen Mullins, and saw the video matter-of-factly discussing the terrible things that were happening to them. I cried. I sobbed. I had nightmares, because that could so very easily have been me. All the while, I knew that none of that is any use to Mark and Helen now.

That shouldn't happen. There is no time and no place, no possible set of circumstances, no point in the universe where what happened to Helen and Mark is anything but wrong. But evil. But monstrous. I will not be part of this. I will not be silent, complicit. No more.

There are probably people thinking, 'a Christmas card campaign? Really?' when they read this, and see the rage and the horror I'm feeling. It doesn't sound like a lot. It doesn't sound like changing the world, I know. But I'm disabled, I am sick, I am shattered and I am in huge amounts of pain. I struggle with everything. I'm poor (not destitute, for which I am utterly grateful, but still poor). I'm overwhelmed just trying (and failing) to deal with everything that needs doing in my own life. I do not have enough resources to cope as it is. I am completely mad to take anything else on, anything at all. I know it.

At the same time, I cannot stand by and watch this. I will not. They can make this happen to me, and to other people, and I might not be able to stop that. I might not be able to stop them hurting me, and I might not be able to stop them hurting other people, just because they can. All I can do is try. Because if I don't even try, I definitely won't be able to stop it.

The other thing I can do is refuse to let them do this. Refuse to just agree, to stay silent, to let them say they're doing this in my name, for my benefit. They can do bad things. They might even be able to force me to do bad things. What they can't do, what they will never be able to do, is to make me willingly, knowingly, openly choose to be like them. They might be able to force me. They can't make me want to be like them.

The choice is mine. I choose to stand for right. For compassion, for mercy, for equality, for helping others when I can. I choose to do something, even a small thing, in the hope that it will help. I won't willingly be part of this.

You have a choice, too. Remaining silent is just another way of choosing.

Where's your tipping point?

[1] Quote from Terry Pratchett's excellent Feet of Clay, part of the Discworld series. Go, read, laugh, ponder. 

[2] This is my own, personal opinion. It's nothing to do with the way the Christmas Spirit Campaign works, or the other people involved in it. I've just been asked that question a lot now, so I thought I'd explain.

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