Christina Zaba: For me it’s a no-brainer. As a mother of teenage children, a citizen of this country, a trade union activist, NO2ID staff member and a journalist, I care about the world I live in and I want it to be honest, fair and reasonable. I want the moral frame of reference which we have to work within to be agreed, broadly speaking, between most or all of us. I want those people designated as criminals in this society to be the ones who actually hurt people and do wrong – not innocents locked up without charge, indefinitely. I want to be able to trust the authorities whose job it is to administer the country on our behalf. And I want it all to make sense.
But the mirror’s cracked from side to side. Less and less of what I see does make sense. Some of it is palpable and obvious nonsense – such nonsense that, like Alice, I sometimes feel as though I’ve gone through the looking glass to a world of inverted logic and deliberate stupidity.
There is simply no good reason whatsoever to “share” (steal) data between government departments – and a thousand urgent and compelling reasons not to. There is no good reason for the National Identity Scheme and the database state, and it is going to harm millions upon millions of people, in big ways or small. There is no good reason to stop peaceful protest and to arrange laws that criminalise and punish people of conscience. And for God’s sake, in whose name is this society allowing the terrifying, horrific torture and detention of
innocent people? Not mine. Not my family’s. Not the people I know. We were never consulted. And I do NOT agree with it.
This country went to war with Iraq and killed and tortured many young soldiers and uncounted families, babies, children, men and women, destroyed a whole irreplaceable culture, the place where the first written words were ever written, the site of the Biblical Garden of Eden and a modern, complex nation, for no good reason anyone has ever presented. We marched against this war, a million of us in the streets of London, and were ignored. I do not agree with that either.
Something is badly wrong – so very wrong that it seems the whole moral underpinning of our society has been shifted. This is a Britain I don’t recognise, a British government I trust less and less and feel more and more ashamed of. This is not the Britain which stalwartly stood up for freedoms and defended the weak, created the
oldest democracy on the planet, gave birth to the sublimest poetry, the first dictionaries, the first computers, the Industrial Revolution. This is not the society which lived by faith, which welcomed my ancestors, heroic fighters for freedom who arrived on these shores without a penny and brought up families to trust in Divine good and social justice. It’s not the country I knew, where decent people shared their food and laughter across the alleyways, where violence was condemned and dishonesty decried.
No. Now we live in a Britain where 6,500 police officers are armed and trained to shoot to kill, not talk or negotiate. We have innocent men shot dead without accountability. We are ringfenced by the machinery of spying, watched wherever we go, listened in to, monitored. Now, music can’t spontaneously happen in the streets – and
neither can meetings. There can be no joy, no compassion, and God forbid, definitely NO forgiveness. Fill in the forms, tick the boxes, and you better watch out and do as you’re told at all times, or you’re simply dead meat. And that is a literal, not a metaphorical threat.
I do not believe that we are surrounded by terrorists. Where are they? I do not believe that we need to be numbered, tagged, chipped, surveilled, “shared”, watched, controlled, monitored, categorised, tracked, assigned to groups from babyhood onwards, made to walk this way, not that, all for our own so-called “protection” from so-called “terrorists”. I think that’s cruel, and I think it’s a lie. Life is supposed to be about free will and conscience. We’re supposed to be allowed to make up our own minds.
So I’m looking for ways to restore proper values to the society – and world – that I live in. I am deeply worried about the actions of those in power, and the powerful tools they’re playing with, which I see being used to destroy far too much of centuries of human progress, and which will hurt the innocent. But I am profoundly confident about people’s innate common sense, compassion and goodness. Human beings are not bad. We mean well and we are endlessly creative. There is so much altruism in the world. I believe we can sort this thing out, find out what’s really going on and get the state back on track, if we work together and keep asking awkward questions.
Thus I’m helping with this Convention in the spirit of doing the right thing – of doing what I can to help open the conversation. It was Schumacher who said it best: “We must do what we conceive to be the right thing and not burden our souls with whether we’re going to be successful. Because if we don’t do the right thing, we’ll be doing
the wrong thing and we’ll be just part of the disease and not part of the cure.”
That’s why I’m here. To be part of the cure.