Cards on the table, gang: I’ve spent most of the last 18 months off my tits on painkillers. Not to a Jacko/Prince/stomach-pump degree, but enough to take the edge off my do-gooding and let evil have its way with the world. It’s no coincidence I was out of it when Brexit Brexitted and Trump trumped, when white supremacists showed their faces again, when Nazis rebranded and all manner of clusters were fucked. It’s been like Bane taking over Gotham after Batman got stuck down that well. As Edmund Burke once said, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to knacker their spines and chug handfuls of gabapentin.
But even in my diminished state I need to get back involved in the world, see through the grogginess and fog that surrounds me, ignore the 40-strong male choir in the corner and the unicorns firing rainbows out of their eyes. There’s do-gooding to be done-gooded. People, it’s time for a Zero-patented, guilt-ridden, non-Scientologist audit!
Let’s start with environmentalism, where I’m Butterflying hard to make minimal impact on the place. I’m recycling everything I can, composting everything edible, cutting down on food waste by shopping more thoughtfully, buying hardly any frozen food, buying second hand books, ditching bottled water, using a reusable mug at work, going paperless as much as possible, using only reusable carrier bags, sticking with renewable energy, keeping energy and water use as light as possible, using public transport outside of work, and seeking out sustainable materials in literally everything I buy. I’m scoring pretty high there. But all these things are so embedded in my life I don’t feel them any more, and don’t feel like I’m doing much beyond my own doings. There’s work to be done there, meddling to be meddled on a grander scale. On environmentalism I’m giving myself three Zero points, two floggings and a Hail Gore.
Onto veggieness. Even in the fog of my lost weekend I’ve not strayed from the righteous path of vegetarianism for the delicious path of actual flavour. I’ve not eaten a single piece of meat, fish or fowl, not even accidentally during one of those unfortunate overseas mix-ups I fucking live for. But I’ve got slack on checking beer and wine for isinglass because it’s a pain in the balls, and all my beloved painkillers will have been tested on animals and have often come in gelatine capsules. And while I’ve made a kind of peace with how the pharmaceutical industry rolls it’s a fractious, uneasy peace like you’d find between Star Wars trilogies. I also lean heavily on dairy, cramming eggs and cheese and milk into my facehole with no regard for how chickens and cows are treated once I’m done with them, knowing it’s unlikely to be gently. Maybe it’s time to take a couple more steps towards the living hell of veganism. On veggieness, let’s say eight Zero points and only a light flogging to my second-numbest finger.
Next, the big fat mess of global inequality, gender inequality, and the effects of big bidness and the rough end of capitalism. Here I’ve done embarrassingly little. I quit donating to Care International and Water Aid to redirect money elsewhere. It was to another charity but that does nothing to the mustard, let alone cut it. I’ve kept up with Kiva but feel no less conflicted about the ethics and usefulness of microfinance loans. I’ve smashed a bit of the patriarchy in working with perpetrators and survivors of domestic violence, but there’s still plenty of it in need of a smashing. Again, these things have become so embedded in my life and retreated so close to token gestures they no longer feel active with a capital A and an ism. Here I’m getting no Zero points, four thorough floggings and a half membership of the Young Conservatives. I need to do more. People, let’s make a start!
And yes, I had a failed comeback in January ‘14 where I did one entry and fucked off out of it. And yes, I had a second failed comeback in June ‘16 where I did two entries and fucked off out of it. But this will be different, this will be both lasting and meaningful, both gabba and pentin, and when next we meet I’ll turn my audit into goals, and goals into plans, and plans into revolution, and bit by bit we’ll edge this species towards basic decency. I will do this! I will do all of this and more! Or none of it, or less.
Photo credit: The Zero