Never has there been a time when we should be giving more fucks. Zero fucks is great and all but there just doesn’t feel a place for it in how I interact with the world right now. Of course, there are still occasions when absolutely none of the fucks must be given, e.g. when the man in my local off license makes a joke not worth repeating about my shaved head (give a shit, son, my hair still looks better than yours). I have no time or patience for gender based fuck-giving.
However, this past week has taught me one very big lesson. While I’ve focused on the battles that have felt like mine to fight - the fact that women still suffer disproportionately at the hands of the patriarchy, that the stigma attached to mental health issues is so strong many will remain silent and not seek the help they so desperately need - there are many other fights that I’ve been ignoring. I wouldn’t say I’ve given zero fucks about them, but I’ve not given enough fucks. And by being aware of, but ignoring, the problem, as most of us will now know, we are part of the problem.
I am, of course, talking about the Black Lives Matter movement. I’ll be honest and say that I’m still working out how I’ll meaningfully engage with it. Not because I want to find a way that I feel entirely comfortable to do so; my dabbling in activism and campaigning has taught me that change can only come from discomfort. No, it’s because I want to know how I can truly add value. I’m reading lots of instagram posts and trying to educate myself but I’m not quite there yet. And so, in the meantime, I’ll leave the talking about this absolutely critical movement to the people who can do it far better than me, and thankfully there are so many of them out there educating us with eloquence, patience and immense dedication. More than we deserve, perhaps, given how comparatively little white people have done to challenge these glaring systemic injustices up till now.
I can, however, talk about the need for giving all the fucks in broader terms. While the death of George Floyd was an untimely and horrific incident that no one could have predicted (although, in some ways it is nothing but predictable, given the rates of police violence enacted against people of colour in the USA), I think it comes as no coincidence that it is now that we’re feeling such an agitated uproar of voices reacting to what, unfortunately, is a symptom of a longstanding, common problem.
I’ve mentioned before that Coronavirus has distilled everything down to its core components. It’s shone a light on the essence of humanity and the very basic elements of our identity, when all the bells and whistles (and Love Island) are stripped away from us. Who are we when we are left with nothing but ourselves?
What’s been most heartening to see is that, across the globe, from community to community, without discrimination, compassion has been the common thread that I’ve noticed. A global outpouring of love and kindness and immense empathy has taken over as we share a more similar experience of the world than we have ever done before. Of course, there are huge disparities, still - the huge disadvantages that black people face in life is just one of many - but our lives have, on the whole, been brought somewhat closer in nature.
Is that what’s allowed us to feel so much more compassion and empathy for our fellow human being? Or is it that we’ve realised that nothing but love can get us through this and so we may as well be fucking liberal with the stuff, differences or no differences?
Either way, we’ve decided that it’s time to start caring. To give all the fucks. To dredge ours up from down the side of the sofa and that spider-ridden garden shed, wherever we last left ours, to shove them all in a bag (probably one of those granny-esque roller shopping bags) and to take to the streets and fling them around liberally shouting “look at all the fucks I give, here’s some for you, and you, and you weird pervy man I normally hurry past.” And you’ll throw them in the air like confetti, caring not that your limited supply will soon end and it’ll be back to the hoovering up fucks from under the living room rug (there’s always some there FYI). That’s because this isn’t a zero sum game. By caring for others we don’t have less to care about ourselves and our families. By caring about the BLM movement, we don’t have to stop caring about people in hospitals with coronavirus, or the soaring numbers of women experiencing domestic abuse during lockdown, or the fact that there is pain and suffering every which way you look in our modern society.
Caring for each other, in spite of our perceived differences, is all we have right now. Now that’s a fuck really worth giving.