The Hunger

I didn’t realise that I was different. It wasn’t until a few people made observations about my behaviour. Kat said that the way I jogged between houses inspired her to go harder when doorknocking. Simon, a few days after September 7, 2013, called it a “hunger”.

It’s something that is perhaps more noticeable now as I campaign with the UK Greens. Because in this context my attitude is particularly unusual. This isn’t my election. This isn’t my candidate. And yet I feel a similar focus, a singularity, a unitary resolve around a fixed, sole purpose: re-electing Caroline Lucas. There are many other volunteers here of course, all pitching in as part of the effort, but what is for me a defining objective is for many of them a pursuit which they’ve ranked along a handful of others. A biscuit, a few cups of tea, a bit of a chin way, and then maybe a spot of canvassing if the weather is nice.

It’s not just me. There’s also something unique about an election campaign. There’s something about that set date, the set goal, knowing exactly what you need to achieve and knowing that after close enough isn’t good enough. That the difference made by a single volunteer at a single canvass session could be the difference between a Senator from the Greens or one from the Shooters and Fishers Party. That if you’re going to put in so many resources – so much time, so much money, so many lives – it better be worth it.

And clearly – it is worth it. Me, my mind will always be returning to a certain senate vote which gave Scott Morrison further power to make refugees’ lives hell – and which passed by a single vote. Here in the UK now the Greens have had only one MP – Caroline Lucas. This election, then, will decide between zero and something. Whether for the next five years there is or is not a Green voice in Parliament to speak out against austerity, to stand up for those dependent upon Government services to get by, to keep calling out the complicity of both the Tories and Labour in kowtowing to the fossil fuel industry and delaying vital action on global warming.

Inasmuch as I’m different from those other volunteers, I’m conscious of coming from a different generation. I’m one of a generation which has grown up with a crumbling future, who has been compelled to face an ugly reality that if we are to have a safe future, we are going to have to fight for it against the most profitable corporations in the world. Some years ago I realised that ‘no action’ would mean an ugly, inhospitable, inhumane world. Species, languages, cultures, islands, lives, could all be lost. So I chose action.

Still, I’m glad I’m no longer the naive teenager who thought solving climate change would be enough. I’ve come to see more and more that this problem is a problem of power structures – including power structures that have benefited me – and that bringing down these power structures is a solution more deep, far-reaching, and just. And there are many ways to do that. Alinsky says that power is “organised energy” and I agree with that – fundamentally, I work to organise the energy of communities who want to bring down these power structures. For now, that means transforming communities in to constituencies: communities with power, able to use the existing political channels to begin creating the world they want.

If I believed in God, I could make more sense of who I am. But I don’t and I can’t. In my life I just try to, as Viktor Frankl suggests, take the responsibility “to find the right answers to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets”.

In 2013 this found me moving to Canberra to campaign for a Green senate candidate. Today, this finds me in Brighton with less than twelve hours until polls open. I’m not sure exactly where I’ll be next. But I know I’ll find me there.

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