Thank you for being around this year, which has been one of those ‘annus horribilis’, beginning with the death of Lilian, a much loved and eccentric mother. As the year has gone on I have been struggling with the guilt and sadness involved in her loss, the way she was deprived of care from a hospice, and the way the family did and didn’t cope with her death. We were all trying to cope with one of the the most difficult circumstance anyone ever has to face.
The highs of the year have involved taking part in the Fourth Plinth, The national Student forum, extensive contact with government ministers and the media, staying in grand hotels with marble floors, habituated by spooks) and the depths, have involved a cancer scare, medical worries, attending an Employment Tribunal, that have made me deeply grateful for the love and support family and friends offer so unstintingly.
I have been involved in: disabled student support, as someone with dyspraxia, which has highlighted the duty universities are under to meet their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act and the Disability Equality Duty with rather more than fine words and policy statements(particularly in the midst of financial crisis, since these inevitably highlight quite how much importance a Higher Education Institution genuinely attaches to Human Rights and Disability Rights);a domestic violence Sculpture project; the Bhopal Support group, and I have just started to find out about the Edhi Foundation, which supports abandoned baby girls in Pakistan. 90 million baby girls have been 'lost' in Asia over the last twenty years.
This is another Holocaust which goes virtually unremarked, the loss of 90 million babies through infanticide, abandonment and late abortions of five to six month foetuses. These female babies are aborted because the mothers are beaten for delivering girls,and face abandonment if they don't have sons (so this isn't in any sense a 'right to choice' issue, with women who have no choice at all.) Female babies are three times more likely to die in Pakistan before the age of five than male babies, and women face 'dowry burning', widespread domestic violence and inequality in every aspect of their lives.The Edhi foundation is picking these unwanted babies off the streets and rubbish dumps where the babies are discarded, and taking care of the babies they can save, and burying the others with dignity. it was heart-wrenching to see. Shame on the UK media for not more widely reporting this horror.
A turbulent year gives anyone the opportunity and indeed duty to reflect on what is truly important, and I really valued, during this very difficult year, the opportunity to watch ‘the Age of Stupid’, which makes a good case for everyone of us to get up and get involved, since we are busy making, or unmaking, the future world by what we do now: our decisions or apathy.
We end up with the world we deserve. As the Archivist in the Age of Stupid says: Post-Apocalyptic Flood...'Why didn't we save ourselves? Was the asnswer that we weren't sure we were worth saving?'
We must act.