I feel like I have been navigating new territory in social situations since my ‘big awakening‘ to the imperative for an independent Wales.
I decided early on that I was NOT going to bend the ear of my close friends on this topic ad infinitum, tempting as it may be. My dearest and closest friends are my release, my support network and ultimately their role in keeping me sane and making me laugh when everything seems difficult, is more important to me than whether they are signed up indy supporters.
Nevertheless, it comes up in conversation. A lot of my friends are, like me, interested in politics, left-leaning, and pissed about Brexit. It’s hard to avoid the ‘I’ word therefore, and like all good friends they are interested in what I’m up to and want to know more.
So I have a need to get more clued up. I need to practise articulating the reasons my heart believes in independence, whilst learning to weave in more of the hard facts. In a way that hooks people, if not persuading them, at least leaving them ‘indycurious’. And if they are already indycurious, then helping them edge closer towards their own indy awakening.
In the company of wider circles of friends and aquaintances, politics is coming up more often in conversation lately. I find this heartening, after years of tumble weed moments. I had long since given up trying to steer conversations on baby led weaning, in the direction of what a shambles Labour is making of devolved Goverment in Wales…
People who were not fired up before, are now angry. It’s suddenly OK to talk about the shockingly dysfunctional nature of politics in the UK. The challenge in these instances is knowing the right moment, and then just dropping the concept of independence into the mix and seeing where the conversation goes. I feel like this is important, to help normalise the idea and give the debate some air. It’s been locked in a stuffy cupboard too long and its time to give it a good shake out.
I’m still at the beginning of my own journey towards an independent Wales. I don’t have the answers to all the questions, but I can help pose them.
Yesterday evening I had a wide ranging conversation with an old and much loved school friend who has been staying with us. We talked about politics as well as lots of other things. She is an inspiring and funny person whose view on things I really value. We of course don’t agree on everything, and last night we had a conversation that really made me think hard about my indystance. We weren’t discussing independence, but were having a challenging discussion about vaccinations for children. At one point I suggested that we change the subject to something less divisive and was surprised by how indignant my friend was at this.
My reflections on this conversation, which went on to be really thought provoking, was that there are many shades to every debate, and that we shouldn’t avoid topics that divide us. Of course I should know this already, and I do – but it’s surprisingly easy to lose sight of – we talked about how our use of social media can tend to make us see everything as very black or white (you are either for Corbyn or you are against him, you are either against the Burkini ban or you are racist). Real life isn’t like this. In real life there are shades of grey.
Social media can also make you too comfortable within your bubble, too used to the views of those who agree with you. It’s easier to avoid getting into a debate about something when you feel like you are coming at it from widely different angles, but it can be useful if you have the courage to not shy away from it.
As I went to bed I was thinking about my indy campaigning. Am I too black and white? Am I so convinced I’m right that I can’t see, or refuse to hear the other side of the debate? This morning, as always, everything had more perspective and I realised that of course it is all about the shades. Shades of red white and green. I want to explore and understand the different shades and layers in the debate and it’s why I haven’t got my ‘independence for Wales patter’ off to a fine art. I like to listen. I want to hear other peoples’ stories of indy awakening and understand what it means to them. I want to listen to those who aren’t convinced, and understand what matters to them for Wales’ future.
It’s all about the shades for me, every single path to independence will be different and its ok to not have the answers.
At the second meeting of yescaerdydd on Wednesday we had talked about this in not so many words. We talked about water in Wales, and where we stand on its relevance to the debate. There are a myriad of other similar topics. We agreed that we want yescaerydd to be a vehicle for debate, for allowing people to grapple with divisive issues and explore the topics that have been until now been off limits. We want to be provocative and ask the difficult questions.
Let’s open that old cupboard and let out all the conversations that have been locked up gathering dust for so long.
It’s not even locked.