Manchester, UK

The Isolation Diaries – The Politics Of It All

Rachy Lewis

One thing I’ve been struggling with during these unreal times is expressing exactly how I’m feeling. I’ve been doing a lot of writing and scrapping lately which tells me there are a lot of emotions I haven’t faced eye to eye or maybe I don’t know how to.

There’s so much going on and everyone has been feeling some type away. No matter how much I love my bedroom or how much of a homebody you say you are, there is a certain awareness to confront when your choices get restricted.
The gym was the first thing I cut off when the pandemic hit even though it was the place where, like many of you, I enjoyed letting out my frustrations. I still remember rolling in there to ask the guy at the desk to put my membership on hold. In his eyes, there was a clear understanding of why and no questions were asked. After that, I began to cut off everything else, little by little, until all that was left was the grocery run.

I’ve had a lot of time to think. I’ve had a lot of time to sit with my own thoughts, ponder and wonder, and weigh all the options and possibilities. If you were to ask me, I’d say I’ve had too much time. Last week, I shared more thoughts with you on all the rambles piling up in my brain, but recently, I’ve been thinking about one thing in particular more: politics.

I got interested in politics really late in my teen years, and it’s something I’m not very proud of. In some ways, I felt like it didn’t concern me, and yes, I was that kid that called it ‘boring’ and emphasised the fact that it was an old man thing to care about. I don’t think I ever voluntarily picked up a newspaper when I was younger, and I certainly didn’t sit down to watch the 8 o’clock news by choice. Younger me considered it to be a grown-up thing and well, that was her first mistake.
A lot has changed since then thankfully. Many of you will know I studied journalism at university and one of my favourite classes in my last year was one that studied the use of language in media. It was probably the most demanding class of all three years, and even more so because I was joining third-year linguistics students who were far ahead in the game and knew what the professors were on about off the bat.

My favourite thing about those classes was how introspective, investigative and deep they were. We interrogated and analysed language use within news coverage, adverts, movie scenes and political speeches. It taught me to look a little deeper at everything I was hearing. I learned to dig for intent, connotations, implications and the things hidden under the surface.

I know some people might say that politics shouldn’t be brought into a pandemic and this is not the time to blame one side or the other, but I agree with that only to a certain extent.

The older I get, the more I realise that there’s nothing in this world that isn’t political to a degree. From the clothes I buy to the food I eat down to the spaces I’m allowed to exist in; everything is highly political and there are people sitting around high tables deciding what life we are all allowed to live. 

Rachy Lewis in orange tshirt

Are we putting people in power who would know what to do when adversity hits or had we become so comfortable we forgot those were shoes they’d have to fill eventually if the time came?

Now, why have I been thinking about those in power so much? Maybe, it’s because my mind is a wanderer by nature, or perhaps, it’s because every decision we’ve made so far and will have to make will be in their hands. I’m not one of those who automatically distrusts parliaments, administrations and governments neither do I watch their every move in a hawkish way looking for slip-ups, but I guess for me this pandemic has highlighted even more the importance of vetting and evaluating those we put in power.

Before any of this I think there was a sense of comfort, not necessarily in politicians, but in the certainty that we had yet to face something so drastically challenging. At least, for those living in developed countries, there was a type of certainty that our lives would keep its overall constant rhythm. There was no war, famine or viral disease spreading around which would have been the norm for those who came before us and is still a daily battle for some. I’m not saying, we didn’t have problems to tackle every day, but I feel like it was somewhat doable to go around life not knowing what was happening around the world, and that not impacting your life greatly. Whether you trusted politicians or you had a million theories about the hidden agenda behind their actions, you could also brush off the things that came out their mouth and as long as their policies weren’t impacting you; you could also pretend they weren’t happening.

In this reality, it’s different. We find ourselves more than ever tuning in to daily press briefings and night-time coverages because we want to know what’s next. We look for some kind of guidance from the ‘experts’ because we now have to rely on their insider information to maintain our peace of mind. Perhaps, we’re looking for comfort too.  

I’ll be honest, it was troubling at best to see certain leaders not taking the issue seriously when it arose, it was especially difficult to watch them brush it off, make bogus claims, and essentially put economy before people.
It’s been making me wonder what criteria we have when we find ourselves at the polls. Are we putting people in power who would know what to do when adversity hits or had we become so comfortable we forgot those were shoes they’d have to fill eventually if the time came?

Let’s face it; the whole thing has been a sh*tshow to watch and there have been a lot of things said that have made me marvel at the severity of the situation and question my entire existence. There have been tv moments that have made me laugh so hard I forgot how to breathe mainly of anger and frustration. Turns out I still hide my true feelings behind humour and sarcastic jokes, but I digress. In some ways, whilst a global pandemic has been a complete shock to the system, I think I find it even more shocking the way those we are supposed to look up to reacted and still react to the situation.
I feel like there are way too many flaws in the system and that’s something that can be objectively seen regardless of party affiliation or partisan beliefs, although as with everything, I’m sure many would want to debate that too.

I should probably point out that of course, not everyone in power has been disappointing or obnoxious lately. There have also been great examples of leadership around the world and that should be applauded, but as usual, the bad has been too loud, despicable and too hateful to ignore.

I’m not naïve. I know the state of affairs won’t change in a heartbeat and people won’t magically stop using this situation as a way to propagate racism and hateful rhetoric. It’s certain that I’ll probably still roll my eyes at tomorrow’s headlines like I did today, but I wish it wasn’t the case.

I guess in a nutshell all I’m saying is first and foremost, politics counts more than I’d like it to and I hope we all don’t forget that when this is all over. Also, I hope to remember every feeling of outrage I felt towards the people in power during this pandemic as I feel like it will be a push to be more active in society and to make sure I make my voice count when it matters.

I haven’t felt that sense of security coming from the top in a long time, maybe it’s part of adulting and the realisation that perhaps they were never great to begin with or maybe, well, it’s just politics baby!
I’m well aware that this whole post might have come across as one giant rant, but that’s why I started The Isolation Diaries series – I wanted a space to capture and confront my lockdown feelings as they are and oh boy are they a lot!

If you’re feeling like me, just remember it is totally normal to feel this way. I hope when this is all over we can look at politics differently, effectively and with more scrutiny. We may not agree on everything, but I hope things take a turn for the better in the coming weeks. Might be wishful thinking, but I want to hope for better days right now and that’s where I’ll start.

Your restless romantic roamer

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