One of my past roles was as a labour activist, and I sat as the Vice President on my union’s executive board for years.
I fought for people’s rights and was vocal about it. However, in time I would begin to realize that it was mostly done in vain.
It’s not that we didn’t make small changes for people, but having worked at the same company for nearly 29 years, I began to see that the changes were minute. And, in actuality, things had been significantly diminished over the years as the company continuously chiseled away at any of the benefits that gave us some semblance of security.
The reality is that the idea of unions and other organizations that “help” is grande and wonderful. However, we have to understand that these ideas and groups exist within the colonial and patriarchal structures that do nothing for the advantage and welfare of “the people.” Essentially, captors would never give people the means to proverbially (and literally) free themselves. They would merely give them the illusion of it being so by granting small details that appear to be helpful, while dangling an illusory and holographic carrot before our eyes.
The truth is that a people under the constant state of struggle and duress are a people who are burnt out, disconnected, and detached. A people who can’t afford groceries or shelter whilst having the cops raid tent encampments of those who have to go without are a people who are on edge, depressed, and disassociated. A people who are preoccupied with war and famine and violence are a people who are greatly divided and removed and harbouring hate, doubt, and contempt. A people who are constantly on this wheel of uncertainty and upheaval with no hope or promise of something better are a people who are severely disempowered, disenchanted, and despondent.
These circumstances make it effortless for the ones in power to continue to lobby for infrastructures and laws that only seem to benefit them, whilst they continue to hoard more and more wealth off the backs of a people who can barely get by.
The rise of mental health issues isn’t something new. It’s just something that has become more obvious in the last few years. Even myself, as a “frontline worker,” was praised for being “a hero” during difficult times, but yet, we weren’t allowed a voice when we wanted to speak. We weren’t even allowed one paid sick day.
Don’t ever let them fool you into believing they care about our health and well-being as long as they continue to build and support the structures that make us sick. This is the biggest lie that they have fed us.
This isn’t a time to riot. Yes, we can be angry but we need to use that anger and channel it into something bigger—like connection and community. Our power lies in our ability to connect, as it is the highest currency that exists. This is why great measures have always been put in place to divide and disconnect us from not only one another, but from ourselves.
I am always reminded of Plato’s allegory of “The Cave” when I talk about these ideas because we are existing in a modern-day version of this, and it’s been masterfully crafted with such precision to give people the illusion that they are not enslaved in the cave. But we are. And only some people are aware of it.
But maybe that is beginning to change. And maybe the time has finally come to leave the cave.
We cannot fix a system that was never built for us to thrive—but we can begin to create a new one. As we begin to awaken and become more aware, we can begin connecting with ourselves and coming back into our bodies. We can begin to regulate our nervous systems. We can begin to reclaim ourselves. We can begin to build community and connection. And it might seem like some pipe dream, but it’s more of a reality than we realize.