Last night, I got caught in the train meltdown. Cue lots of confusion, lots of panicked people. It was something I was able to navigate through calmly with minimal stress. But why?
Well maybe it was because I have been in enough british train related melt downs to have experienced pretty much everything? Or maybe it’s because my tolerance for uncertainty and my resilience are pretty high?
Both of these are plausible reasons, and maybe they did have some influence on my ability to navigate confusion. But when I really thought about it, it pretty much came down to one thing.
I knew that whatever happened, I had the ability to access enough money to resolve my situation safely. Maybe it was a taxi, maybe it was a hotel. Maybe I will just go for some food and drinks until it all calms down. And the psychological safety this provided was immense. It meant I could make decisions calmly without panic. It hasn’t always been this way, but it is now.
And I contrast this with a conversation I’d had with a LGBTQ+ asylum seeker that same day. Who’d told of the fear he had, from persecution in his home country, to the fear he has here, now. He told of how our systems dehumanise him. “I am a human, but I am not a human here”
He has no psychological safety.
And yet he is expected to navigate a system that is designed to create confusion, to create barriers to his living, to being human.
And so I think of and applaud the great small charities, and the people who work in them supporting people like this every single day.
And I think, fuck the people who create this environment, who aim to dehumanise.
And I think of what I do, and don’t do to help.