Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A War on the Poor UK? Enlightening Times Interview with Keith Ordinary Guy

Enlightening Times Interview with Keith Ordinary Guy

It's been over a year since Keith Ordinary Guy, decided to begin his adventure of writing a Letter a Day to No.10 detailing a different perspective on the radical cuts, the austerity measures and what some might call an all out war on the poor and vulnerable in the UK. Here we dig a little deeper, into what fuels Keith and his views on the current political climate we find ourselves in.

ET : It’s been over a year since you began your mission of writing a letter a day for number 10, what was the catalyst that made you begin?

OG : A long time before I started the letters I was aware of the global neoliberal agenda and it quickly became apparent that the Tory/coalition government were pursuing that agenda wholeheartedly and aggressively. Nothing they were saying was true, merely double speak to appease the nation when it was clear to me they had declared war on the poor and were embarked on a programme to asset strip the nation. There wasn’t a defining moment when I knew I’d had enough, but a growing anger and frustration that they were getting away with destroying the country. It took several months to come up with a plan; a one off protest wasn’t going to be good enough. I felt it had to be a lot more than that, something that needed to be both persistent and sustainable over a long period of time. I came up with letters, not as an attempt to communicate with the government, but as a way of disseminating information and using the power of Facebook to make them a matter of public record. 

ET: Have you always been political, were you active in any other activities before you began your letter campaign?

OG: I have become more and more political from the Thatcher years. I was working in a youth centre in the North East of England during the miners strike and the miners and police used to clash right outside the youth centre door.  At that point politics became an intimate part of my life as towns and villages were decimated and reduced to a third world existence. The poverty and suffering was indescribable but the courage and strength of the people was incredible. They changed how I worked and thought about youth work, it became a political issue for me. I became something of a trouble shooter, put into areas that were particularly difficult, working with displaced, socially excluded young people.

ET: What to you is the biggest issue in the UK at this time?

OG: The biggest issue facing the UK at this time is the war on the poor, nothing compares to that. The government is attacking the poorest and most vulnerable and doing everything it can to undermine the working classes.

ET: Do you see it as part of a bigger, global picture and if so how?

OG: The bigger picture is the neoliberal agenda and through the use of what Naomi Klein calls the shock doctrine there is a global agenda of grabbing land and resources for profit by multinational corporations and banks. Whether the ‘shock’ is through natural disasters like hurricane Katrina or man-made like the austerity measures in Britain, disasters are used to put into place polices that would not be acceptable in calmer circumstances. 

ET: What is the fuel that drives you?  Is it fear of what’s happening now or is it love of your fellow man…or something else entirely?

OG: I am a photographer and photographing the natural world has changed how I see it and how I relate to it and life. Nature is without guile, it is always true to itself and as such I can be considered to be perfect. We may see a tsunami as having catastrophic consequences but it has no intent to do so it just is and is actually very beautiful and awe inspiring. Every leaf on a tree and every blade of grass is a source of wonder to me, each unique and yet I am unable to appreciate that without appreciating the whole. We humans are very clever and have created a very sophisticated world, but we have done so at a cost and, I think, have lost touch with our place in nature and our primary dependence upon it. Having been a people worker all my life I am very aware that many people feel lost, something I felt personally for many years. I am no longer lost, I slowly became reconnected to myself over many years, which involved a growing awareness of myself and my place in nature and of being sincere in all I do, living without guile. That sincere living engages a great love of the world and of people, my brothers and sisters, which informs and motivates everything I do.

ET: Do you believe the world is at a choice point? And if so, what do you feel is necessary now?

OG: Yes I think we are at a pivotal moment on which the future of the world will be decided for good or ill and it involves a choice to use and abuse the world and each other or to mature and learn to live ethically. It is an unbelievably challenging time, because ethical living cannot be imposed, we each have to choose it for ourselves and be informed in what we are doing. Forcing people to live ethically would just be another form of tyranny. It would never work, but the risk, of course, is enormous. What is necessary now, and is what I will spend the rest of my life doing, is to talk about it and be the change as sincerely as I can. Talking isn’t good enough on its own, it has to lived and modelled. If our words aren’t congruent with our actions then they are valueless and essentially hypocritical. We must be it to teach it.

ET:  Many are suggesting the rise in consciousness that we’re experiencing is at the root of the under-handed, lying, controlling and manipulative nature of our political leaders coming to light now, what’s your views?

OG: There is a rise in consciousness or awareness, we now have the language of our inner selves and it is easier to see and expose deceit. Any rise in consciousness involves people engaging and learning to be more aware and to be sincere and that is happening and gathering momentum. It’s a great hotch potch, mish mash of everything, there is no central coordinating thing going on, it’s all down to choosing again, and more and more people are choosing.  The government is completely out of step with the rise in consciousness and, I think, would sneer at it, not a very wise thing to do.

ET: Do you feel the main-stream media is being used as a propaganda tool?

OG: Yes. I threw my television out in 1995 because I saw it as just a horrible propaganda machine and I particularly objected to the constant stream of advertising which is just deceitful profiteering feeding consumerism. I really do see television as the opiate of the masses.

ET: Do you believe that people of the UK are subjected to mind control?  And if so, what can we do to change it?

OG: I do think we are subject to mind control, advertising being a case in point. I think the only way to combat it is to learn to live sincerely, to be congruent to ourselves, question everything, learn to think for ourselves, which is not at all easy and to be self aware enough to better understand the internalised familial, social and cultural influences we all carry. I guess as a recipe for growth I’d say, talk less, think more, hone awareness, question everything and act well and sincerely.

ET: One of the issues we’ve seen you talk most about is the dreadful treatment of our most vulnerable members of society, particularly the disabled and mentally ill. Do you believe a hate campaign has been launched against them?

OG: Yes, I believe there is a hostile and aggressive war on the poor and the vulnerable, they are a useless resource in the neoliberal agenda. Literally, useless eaters.

ET: And what can “ordinary” people like you and I do about it?

OG: Be magnificently creative, it is our greatest human resource. Learn to live deliberately, play a lot, be frivolous, kick leaves and resist the hate as playfully and as creatively as possible. In every way become more child-like, act with innocence, draw on innocence as a creative force of nature and protect ourselves through innocence. We are first and foremost natural creatures, indivisible from nature and we can do ourselves a whole lot of good by observing nature and emulating what we observe and absorb.

ET: Do you have any political aspirations?

OG: No, not in the sense of entering politics. I shall always engage with politics as long as they exist, but mostly to resist it as something insincere.

ET: If you were PM for a week what changes would you make?

OG: Cut off big money influence on government dead.

ET: Anything else…if there’s anything else you want to discuss that the questions haven’t covered please add it here.

OG: I would encourage everyone to teach their television to fly by throwing them from a great height; they don’t do it very well and are even worse at landing. Enjoy! I am the founder of Telefenesters, which is the noble past-time of defenestrating televisions.