The Privilege Of A Burning Car

On Saturday, my car went on fire. I’m sure that’s not the correct way of putting it, but that is what it did. Or more accurately, after two years of constantly causing me troubles, it committed its own viking funeral. No one was hurt and I didn’t need the services of car wreck lawyers, thank god! But I no longer have transport of any kind unless I want to try and tie the smouldering wreck of twisted metal to a donkey and ride it like a dystopian chariot. Lots of people seemed shocked or upset on my behalf but it wasn’t really either of those things. It was just annoying and meant I had to stand by a roundabout in Ilford for two hours getting slowly sunburnt as I stood by a former car. The whole event was annoying and not having a car anymore is inconvenient but overall, really not all that bad in the grand scheme of things.

I’m not sure if it’s just recent worldly events that have made me think like this but in the days following my mini-Michael Bay adventure, I spent less time waking up in cold sweats thinking about being trapped in a burning Ford KA, than I did worrying about the people of Gaza. Watching the news, and reading tweets from those who are there makes me feel horribly privileged in life. Hopefully I’ll never know what it’s like to live in an area cordoned off from the world, with nowhere to run to when you are being mercilessly attacked by airstrikes. Hopefully I’ll never know what it’s like to have everyone I know killed in front of me as we all shelter in somewhere we thought was safe but wasn’t.

Before I write any further, it seems necessary to exactly state my position on all this. I have seen cries of ‘anti-semitism’ and ‘anti-Islamist’ being thrown around social media. Sadly I have also seen prejudiced comments of both of those types being thrown around too. If you have want to break one of the rules of life and look at the Youtube comments under Jon Snow’s excellent and moving report on the children of Gaza, then you’ll find both a man accusing others of being racists who are hateful towards Jews while telling them to ‘go back to Paki-Land’ and someone accusing others of being racist towards Arabs while fitting more anti-Semite slurs in a paragraph than seemingly possible. People are, on the whole, fucking awful. So before I’m stuck as being from one camp or the other, I am, on the whole, just simply against children dying. Seems obvious doesn’t it?

I’ve tried my best to swot up on the history of Israel and Gaza. Tried my best to feasibly work out whose fault is what and why. I have worked out that it’s not Muslims or Jews who are at fault. It is a few individuals and their ideology that upsettingly and ludicrously put violence and land ownership before humanity and life. And ultimately, what I have come to conclusion of is that if you are in IDF or Hamas and trying to pass the blame for killing children rather than abjectly just protesting against and stopping the killing of children then you are amongst the worst of all humans. The very worst. And I have no time for your views.

Kids have no say in where they are born or where they live. They have no choice in what ideology they support until they are old enough to understand or decide otherwise. The kids in Gaza can’t just up and leave and decide to start again elsewhere. That’s heartbreaking. But so little seems to be being done to actively stop it. It is a political hotbed due to weapons sales and old alliances, and yet no one seems to realise that all of this means nothing in comparison to saving lives. I’m truly baffled how we can live in a world where the existence of some is treated with such frivolity. It is the same issue over and over again. Syria is endlessly ignore because it’s been decided that that is just easier for everyone in the Western world. Ukraine seems like a frightening volcano just waiting to erupt. Then there’s the continuing violence in Iraq,  sex and child slavery in the Congo, mob killing in Pakistan. There are injustices and breaches of human rights all over the world that the news has grown bored of and our government doesn’t want to know about. And I have no idea what to do about it. None at all.

Selfishly it makes me feel so very helpless, because those who are suffering are, and I can’t do anything about it. My only tools are to talk about things onstage and this past week is the first time in ages I’ve looked at the news and been completely unable to see humour anywhere amongst the darkness. Again and again, all I can think is just how little I understand the people that could order a drone strike on a school or an airstrike on a hospital knowing what that will do. I don’t think I’ll ever understand it, and I’m thankful for that. Having to stand on a roundabout in Ilford* for two and a half hours and no longer having a car was shit, but I can mentally manage that. I know how to deal with it by whimpering down the phone to insurance, sending some tweets about the funny Incident Response men and writing 5 minutes of jokes about the flammability of cars (‘they are so flammable, why don’t we ever use them to start barbecues?’ Cue rapturous applause). I wish I knew how to deal with what’s happening in Gaza and how to help but I don’t. I haven’t got a fucking clue. And that’s why my car setting itself on fire just doesn’t matter. It’s a privilege I had a car in the first place. It’s a privilege that firemen came and put the blaze out and the police checked if I was ok. It’s a privilege that I could get the tube home afterwards and have a shower and then laugh about it. That’s a great and yet hugely sad realisation to have.


* I’d like to apologise to Ilford that in the tags for this blog it goes: Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Congo, Ilford. Ilford really isn’t that bad even though I had to cue for ages to get £10 out of the cash machine.