Once, not that long ago, in a land, not that far away, there lived a man, who worked very hard. He dedicated his life to fighting injustice and was always the first to stand with those suffering discrimination or oppression. He travelled far and wide offering support to people who needed it and challenging those who put the wants of the few before the needs of the many. Unwavering in his principles the man’s views were not always popular although his good heart and his steadfastness became legendary across the kingdom. More often than not his beliefs and predictions proved to be grounded in good sense. When not at work the man lived a simple life, his lack of interest in material things unusual for the time.
And so the man’s life continued for many years. Quietly spoken and physically unassuming the most powerful people saw the man as little threat to their position of privilege. For a long time this was the case. Despite the man’s efforts and those of a few others like him the kingdom, and other lands around it, became dark and dangerous places to live in. More and more people were reduced to existing in sorry conditions. At its worst this meant that some had no access to adequate food and shelter, or to good education and health care. Inequality sometimes led to prejudice and often the most powerless were unfairly blamed for social evils well beyond their control. Then came an opportunity when the man put himself forward for a more powerful position amongst those responsible for governing the kingdom. Slowly, but with gathering momentum, ordinary people throughout the land began to listen more closely to what the man had to say, and to join him in his commitment to social justice for all. In short they began to hope.
Watching the growing interest in and acceptance of the man’s message the rulers and those who would be rulers began to fear. Having greater access to the kingdom’s Magic Streaming Mirror (popularly known as the MSM) than the man and his supporters they began to spread false tales about him. Aware of the people’s regard for the man and his work they began by criticising his ability; ‘he is a good person but not strong enough to lead us’. When this didn’t work they moved to an attack on his ideas; ‘he’s talking rubbish, don’t listen to him’. Then, not surprisingly given the increasing obvious acceptance of them, they began to adopt, even to claim as their own, the man’s suggestions for action. At the same time they argued; ‘nobody likes him, he can’t deliver his promises, don’t trust him, trust us instead’. The critical messages were personal as well as political; indeed the personal is always political. So the man’s long-time principles were questioned, his character besmirched, and his lifestyle, choices, appearance and general self-presentation insulted. Through it all the man stood tall and got stronger, supported by the people who believed in him: young people and older ones, workers and those unable to work, those with enough to live a good life, others much more disadvantaged. They didn’t all agree with everything the man said, just as no one should, unthinkingly, uncritically, accept what they are told by others. But what all these people shared was a respect for the man’s obvious principles and they believed, like him, that the kingdom could be a better, fairer, brighter, happier place, if everyone worked together to make it so. And hence the Magic Streaming Mirror responded branding these people as naïve, as stupid, as wicked and worse . . . Its magic power was strong as it twisted the words of those who spoke in support of the man and magnified the voices of those that didn’t. And yet, many were able to question the dominant and dominating bewitching messages emanating from the Magic Streaming Mirror which championed the proclamations of those who wished to dispose of the man and take power for themselves. The people who resisted took comfort in, and drew strength from, communication and comradery relationships with each other. So much so that even when they were told, repeatedly, in various different ways, that they were not ‘real’ they knew that this was a lie.
The end of this story is yet to be told. The man and the people who accept and help to promote what he stands for remain under attack. The often confused and confusing negative stories continue to fester. But the resistance of many continues also. Although the kingdom is in many ways rotten, and there is a real danger that things could get even worse, there is also much hope for a better world. Many more people believe in fighting for a more positive future. Many more people believe in the power of community and the value of people powered politics. What is clear is that whatever happens next things will never be the same again.