Many of you will be familiar with the graphic novel, or film of aforesaid, ‘V For Vendetta’, by Alan Moore. Moore is an English writer, primarily known for his graphic novels, who has written for ‘2000 AD’ and ‘D.C Comics’.
I thought, like the antagonist revolutionary; V, I’d take a moment to have this quiet rant…
“V: Allow me first to apologise for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of everyday routine, the security of the familiar, the tranquillity of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, where upon important events of the past, usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, are celebrated with a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this…day… by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.”
You see I’m going to reference V quite a bit! Many people at this time of year – Christmastime, claim to feel the joy of the season. Their sense of goodwill to all mankind lights up, and they feel better in themselves. But isn’t this all hypocrisy? How can one feel a sense of obligation and empathy for one’s ‘fellow man’ for a day or two, then disregard it for the rest of the year? How can those who follow religious doctrine claim to be caring and giving when they do not open their doors to the poor and homeless at this time of year? How can any of us claim to be feeling the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ whilst closing our doors and curtains against the bleak truth that there are thousands – if not millions, suffering right now?
“V: There are, of course, those who do not want us to speak…Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?”
And not just England – which is where V is set and to what he is referring. Take a look at where you live. Be honest. Is it truly a place of equality? Do all people really avoid the truncheon? Do those who speak out maintain their freedom? Or is your government frightening you into a state of impotent paralysis, whereby you feel unable to speak against it, or act against it? Or vote against it? Is your government smothering you with platitudes? Is your government telling outright lies that seem so unbelievable that – you simply cannot bring yourself to believe them?!
“V: Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well, certainly, there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.”
Is there a nation on Earth that does not have a system of surveillance anymore? In 2016, China had a reported 176 million surveillance cameras in operation, with plans to increase this number. The U.S. has approximately 15.3 cameras for every 100 individuals, followed by China with approximately 14.4 and the U.K. with 7.5. Other top 10 countries include Germany (6.3), Netherlands (5.8), Australia (4), Japan (2.7), France (2.5) and South Korea (2). So forget about your ‘western freedoms’; you are being watched, counted, surveyed – spied upon on a daily basis. And how do they get away with it? Because we let them. They say it is for our security and protection, but one has to wonder at the increasing level of CCTV’s around the world. And yet the ‘cruelty, injustice and intolerance’ are rarely recorded by these CCTV’s. These crimes are exposed by the people who happen to pull their phones out the fastest. And when these people stand up for what is right, and honest and true – someone somewhere silences them – or attempts to.
“V: I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. They were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic, you turned to… He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I’m innocent, no, far from it. I am as guilty as the next person. I am as complacent and self-serving as anyone who feels they should keep their head below the parapet of politics. I am comfortable and lazy with it! But our turning away is as bad, if not worse, than the act itself. We know these things are happening and yet….
We know the seas are choking on our plastic – OUR plastic, and yet…
We know the President/PM/Chancellor/Governor lied, and yet…
…there are sparks of light in the darkness we all create. Individuals who shine so brightly, speak so passionately, hold up the truth to anyone who will look and listen, that they just cannot (or should not) be ignored.
2019 has seen a rise in young people calling out their governments. Youngsters who have revitalised the people’s passion in a variety of subjects. From gun laws, to education. From female empowerment to climate change.
I raise my glass; and invite you to do the same, to those brave individuals who have not been cowed, or restrained, who have spoken out with fierce determination against systems of oppression. They deserve our support, our thanks and most of all, our cooperation.
Some of them are familiar, some not so; depending on where in the world you live. So let us say ‘Thank you’ to:-
Hong Kong protests – Joshua Wong, age 23 years, helped organise the protests and the Umbrella Movement, criticized the oppression of protesters by the Hong Kong police, and the extradition draft law as pro-Beijing and called for the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam to resign.
The #NeverAgain movement – David Hogg, Jaclyn Corin, Emma González, Cameron Kasky, and Alex Wind. The center of a massive youth movement for gun control after surviving a massacre that killed 17 of their classmatesat Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Jihye Yang, 22, is one of the leading youth feminist voices in South Korea, which was rocked this year by protests against a spate of illegal filming cases. Women have been recorded in their homes, on the streets, and even in toilets. Tens of thousands of women have marched in protest under the slogan “My life is not your porn”.
Alexandria Villaseñor, 14 years old – the founder of Earth Uprising, a global climate change movement, and one of the youngest organizers of the historic Sept. 20th Global Climate Strike, is on the front lines of the climate change movement.
Youth Climate Strike – Greta Thunberg, aged 16 years, was first pictured sitting alone outside Swedish parliament in a strike that she hoped would raise alarms among lawmakers. Soon, she had spurred an international movement of students striking on behalf of climate change.
“V: So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of… government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the… [year] to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.”
Well, I’m not suggesting we all gather around our parliament buildings on the 5th November or to conduct V-like Vendettas. But I am inviting you all to join these; and other, young people across the world in making things better, making things right. Forget slogans like ‘Make….Great Again’. None of the countries who use this phrase have ever had a decade which was great for all it’s citizens.
But they can be made great for the first time in their histories!
Have a peaceful holiday season wherever you may be. And remember, we can make a difference. YOU can make a difference.
Wishing you all a Very merry Christmas!
And a happy, healthy New Year.