Monday, 5 November 2012

“The true democrat is he who with purely nonviolent means defends his liberty and, therefore, his country's and ultimately that of the whole of mankind.” Gandhi

For the past seven years I have spent three to four weeks during late July and early August in Manhattan. Originally it was to attend Actionweek, an annual ten-day Poetry Therapy and writing intensive, as part of my training to become a Poetry Therapist. Other writers and Poetry Therapists came from Canada, Mexico and Japan as well as from New York City and State and other parts of the USA. Over the years they have become close and dear friends. I keep their specifics in mind whenever anyone makes a sweeping generalisation about Americans, for what is meaningful and memorable is in the detail.

Tomorrow they will vote for their president. I have a good idea who they will all be voting for, however disappointed they might be about Barack Obama’s first term in office. I know, too, how excited they were when he was first elected. That resonates painfully - I remember my own profound relief and optimism on that night back in 1997 when New Labour won the general Election.

 I always laughed at my politically cynical mother who used to say that if they put a sheep up as the Labour candidate in the Rhondda then it would be elected. She wasn’t far wrong but she never stopped voting Labour.

 I was talking with a friend a few days ago about The Great Famine of Mao's China and the Arab Spring. She felt that having enough to eat under a tyrant was worth the relinquishing of personal freedom. I begged to differ.
So my thoughts about tomorrow’s election lead me to this - I must, a bit like my mother did,  keep faith with the democratic process and at the same time learn to stomach the inevitable disappointments. 


  1. I know so little about the US now that it is difficult to comment, except to declare a deep cynicism borne of many years dealing with MPs. Like all institutions each party's main aim is to get /keep itself in power - quite how and why, is almost beside the point!

    For anyone thinking the tyranny of Mao was a worthwhile burden I suggest they read Jonathan Glover's outstanding, if harrowing, book - Humanity, a history of the 20th century. With philosophic rigour he examines why in a century of such progress we were also so inhumane, committing greater atrocities than ever before - Mao does not fare well!

  2. I know nothing about poetry therapy. Can you elaborate a little for me, or perhaps you can point me to e previous post?

  3. Hi Mark,
    Check out the relevant pages from the tabs at the top of my blog. Let me know if you'd like to know more.
    best wishes

    1. Thanks, I must learn to observe that which is before my eyes!

  4. Mao was an a student I was revolted by those waving the Little Red Book in total ignorance of the tyranny and famine imposed on the people of China - the evidence was there, but the Little Red Book mania enabled kids from comfortably off families to live a virtual, comfortable rebellion.

    And Obama's part in fomenting the rise of fundamentalism in the aftermath of the Arab Spring will be something women there will be regretting for generations.