Worst is a word, whose echo depends on the vastness of the cave
Two years ago the main struggle in mine and my twins lives was making sense of my partner’s / their father’s suicide and one of the twins’ fresh diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, a chronic condition.
We entered 2020 with the quiet hope of resilience.
A few days after the start of spring in the northern hemisphere, we are in an almost total lock down, initiated by the news from Italy. In few weeks we went from no schools of any grade running, to everything but services of public use shut down; younger of 18 years old and older of 65 years old forbidden to exit their homes; police officers going from door to door and checking if people, who have received an order for self-quarantine and isolation, comply with it.
From Saturday 21st March the country is under curfew from 18:00 to 05:00; shelters, at the few open borders, have become functional and Sarajevo international airport has closed down to people and functions only for aid and transport of goods.
Bosnia and Herzegovina share just geography with Europe, not economic or accountability standards. It is a small country of 4 million people trapped in a permanent post-war nationalist set-of-mind fostered by very well trained elites of politicians that have elevated to art the ability of pitting people against each other while they, with no fatigue, take for themselves what belongs to everyone.
So, rampant spread corruption, poverty, stigma, post-traumatic-stress-disorder from a yet too recent war, all this embedded and modeled into the obedient capitalism of an EU’s colony found us to have to count and trust the devastating apparatus of 14 governments where really no separation of powers whatsoever exists, everything and everyone being appointed via the capable hands of the three leading ethno-cratic parties.
And this will be my one and only rant about the socio-economic-political situation in BiH and its purpose is purely informative.
The fact that bad politic occupies most of our lives is never a good excuse to give away the few spaces we can have control over. And this is why I want to write about hope and its discipline.
This would not have been possible without a friend liking a tweet from another digital activist who had a short thread on misinformation/digital rights/privacy and screaming into the void, her thread ending with a quote from an activist group:
“hope is a discipline”
And there it was, one of those rare zen moments everyone experiences once in a while. Mind/heart/stomach came all together and a shift happened. I am shifted, enlightened, transformed by a collective intelligence driven by feminism, solidarity, recognition of each others and most of all thanks to people who look and experience life in one of the most difficult conditions of confinement.
And yes, being in prison is not a straightforward equation of culpability. Biased profiling based on race, class, ethnicity, punishment for the most fragile from migrants to minorities in any given majority, structural discrimination, incarceration as a business and a form of social panacea are all structural components of our lives and we cannot and we should not escape that shrugging our shoulders.
So hope truly is a discipline. It starts every day by saying good morning to your awakening self and meaning it. Is getting ready for breakfast believing the day will bring love, laugh, collaboration and respect. It is a discipline cause it asks for an intentional practice of the smallest things.
There are many devastating effects of loosing someone we love or of learning how life goes when managing chronic illness becomes your reality. One of these is loosing hope. Feeling doomed by an undefinable “destiny”.
It does not matter, really, if you believed in it or not, if you had/have a god or not. The tsunami of loss is merciless. It wipes hope. Is the most predatory act that can happen but is one we can fight back.
That hope is a discipline I know and have witnessed so many times across my personal, feminist activism, relief and civil society worker life. Each an every “major crisis” had showed it to me. I just didn’t have a name for it, a lineage to it, now I have it.
I firstly witnessed and learned it from refugees and displaced women I was working with and for in the late ‘90s all over the Western Balkans, than again in 2008 when hate and violence sprout against the Queer Sarajevo Festival’s participants, it came back again with different faces in 2013 during the national #JMBG protests, exploded in 2014 with the social unrests in Sarajevo, and burned me out during the same year when devastating floods hit Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia destroying years and years of patient post-war life building. The life spiral just continued,back once and again to refugees, renamed migrants by the same EU that closed the Balkan Route.
Each and every time hope was the one and only nurturing response people were practicing with each other up to exhaustion. The discipline of hope is about caring for the self reflected in others. The one we know intimately and the ones we just met on the street of asphalts and macadam and on the ones of the internet(s).
And now in this life of ours defined by interruptions, closures, local and international lock-downs, when all our relations are shaped by having or not having connectivity, access, data, the discipline of love is even more than necessary and we have to declined it in the framework of this gigantic physical distancing that hit deep into our very local and across-the-globe ordinary lives.
So what does the discipline of hope mean in the digital age? Confronted by a general poor planning of leadership and an increased distributed precariousness and denial of basic, fundamental services and rights?
It is about being the link, once and again, between the world we experience and the worlds we witness. It is about practicing the hope that out there, linked by the optical fiber internet and the community network routers and antennas, humans hope for a better world and practice a better solidary self.
It is about acknowledging and recognizing our position of privilege and moving from denounce to transformation. My discipline of hope is making sure that my access to data, bandwidth, devices, salary is not egoistically and frantically accrued but becomes a node of sharing, re-thinking, transforming. My discipline of hope is building today, the infrastructure of hope of tomorrow. To have it in place, decentralized and distributed, when the global stand-by button is pushed back forcing us from play to fast forward.
The discipline of hope is to look and explore “possibility” with the acute awareness that privileges can be hacked, dismantlement and meshed for serving a better purpose that individualism and division. I have been rescued in my life by the hope people have placed in me. So it is time for restitution.
I am aware how the word of “discipline” might sound harsh, difficult, dry. It does not resonate like that in my body, it is instead a narrowed focus on who matters in these exponential noises of accusations and false promises. It is the human compass on the vast sea, the desert lands and the overcrowded megalopolis.
My hope are persons, humans: my sons, my biological sisters, my friends in Sarajevo and all over the world, that are at the same time my political work companions, my feminists, my queers and all the yet to-meet-to-know that share, generously every day, their practices, their wisdom, their art, exercising harmoniously, asynchronously their decentralized version of the discipline of hope.
(with caring editing by Ivor)