As someone who lives & breathes ethics, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. In any given week there are innumerable ethical transgressions reported in the press (not to mention those that I witness in my work/life). Choosing which one to write about, or rather, to omit, is an ethical minefield in itself. The guilt of an Irish (ex catholic) should never be underestimated.
Sometime during middle childhood, when most children's super-ego (a Freudism), or consciences to you & me, are developing, Irish children are rounded up & taken to an undisclosed destination. Whilst heavily sedated (Guinness, Poitin, or in my case, home brew) an incendiary device is implanted in their heads. Said thingymajig is programmed to detonate at the mere thought of breaking any of the 10-150 commandments (my parents added a few, such as “thou shalt not forget your mother's birthday or wear skirts above the knee, especially whilst donning a pair of patent shoes - they reflect your knickers). Thinking about kissing someone of the opposite, or worse, same sex, before the age of 21 has been known to result in spontaneous detonation.
I’m riven, daily, by an irrational fear that I will self destruct if I press the wrong ethical button. In the same week that Nelson Mandela died, other stories were vying for my attention. It was International Violence against Women Week, Amazon was accused of potentially exploitative employee practices & the BBC’s Panorama exposed the Military Reaction Force (MRF), alleged to be an unofficial wing of the British army which operated in Northern Ireland at the height of “the troubles”. The BBC reported that the MRF gunned down unarmed, innocent catholic civilians. Shooting & killing with impunity.
Inevitably, I choose one story and wait for the hook for the others to re-emerge. The guilt I often experience for neglecting the others can be all consuming.
The editor of the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, a woman who knows all about tough choices, has announced she’s unplugging for christmas. She’s urging others to join her. For one week she won’t be accessing email or social networking sites or using her mobile phone. That’s brave for a journalist, let alone the editor a respected international, online news outlet.
Yet, if we never extricate ourselves from the constant noise that pollutes our lives with internet connection, there’s a danger our minds & souls will become scrambled & full of spam. There’s a thin line between technology being an enabler & a catatonia inducing disabler. An energy vampire sucking the life blood out of us. Distracting us from the things that really matter. Family, friends, having time to stand & stare. To think, to breathe & to be present in the moment.
I started this blog in April as an outlet to publish some of my work that the malestream media considers too “controversial” to print. I didn’t think anyone would actually read it, though obviously I hoped they would. I’ve been overwhelmed by the reaction, which was pretty much instant. I have followers all over the world & am often inundated with responses to issues I tackle on the blog.
Whilst I’m humbled by the response this blog has generated, it brings with it a certain pressure. To generate regular content that is topical & insightful & to be constantly available.
In order to do my family, friends, you (my readers) & myself justice, I need to recharge my batteries from time to time &, to do that, I need an internet detox (otherwise I'm a gadget free gal). I’m going to accept Arianna Huffington’s challenge by unplugging today until January 8th. As I write I’m racked by guilt. The unfolding events in South Sudan serve to undermine my resolve. Just one more story before I press the off button. But the reality is, I’ve said it all before. The piece I wrote on South Sudan last year predicted the descent into anarchy if the UN continued to neglect its International human rights obligations (see press section of my website www.tessfinchlees.com) for the piece I wrote in The Independent, “South Sudan Needs Our Help, Not our Silence”.
From today, I’m going to trade my computer in for snakes and ladders, charades, baking biscuits (something I did for the first time yesterday!), foraging and taking “midnight” walks (anytime after dark) with my 6 year old, whereupon we will rendezvous, as per, with Mr Badger in the woods. I’ll be swapping Newsnight & The Moral Maze for repeats of The Wizard of Oz, The Snowman & The Railway Children. I’m going to unashamedly bask in the warmth & laughter of the people in my life that inspire me & make me want to be a better person.
Whether or not you join the burgeoning band of unpluggers, wherever you are in the world, I wish you a gadget, internet & guilt free christmas. Peace & joy will surely follow…