As a life-long socialist*, I first joined the Labour Party in 1960 and, involvement in various campaigning groups on the internationalist/ social justice/ socialist spectrum swiftly followed. Unfortunately, health problems have, for more years than I care to remember, prevented me from participating in most party activities such as leafleting, canvassing, phone-bank duties. It has been only on very rare occasions that I’ve felt able to attend local branch meetings.
The reason for my non-participation is that I never know how my stamina reserves will play out on any particular day, part of the day, or even at times hour by hour. Although my general health has recently been better than it was in the first few years after collapsing and succumbing to ME, in 2003, I have to be very careful with my pacing.
I still find it difficult to cope with visits into the town centre, a mere 10 minute car or bus ride, and I have not managed to regain sufficient physical and emotional stamina to cope with the sensory assault of cinema, theatre, church, or concert-going. Indeed, I’ve rarely felt able to visit any art exhibitions, around which, for several decades much of my life seemed to revolve.
What prompted me to write this post is the intense guilt, and even anger, I feel when I receive e-mails enquiring whether I’m able to help out in the run-up to the general election. There are so many organizations whose aims I support but, I’m never able to commit to attending meetings, seminars and sundry proffered events; on a bad day it’s even difficult to respond to online surveys re campaigning on various issues.
The internet has proved a real life-line for me and, I love to know what issues are being campaigned on but, at present I’m contemplating unsubscribing form many of these mailing lists because of my recurring guilt at not being able to proffer my physical presence in support of these causes.
* I’m not kidding myself that the Labour Party is a socialist party, even though there are avowed socialists amongst its membership. I acknowledge that even under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership it remains essentially a left of centre social democratic party with a modest glimmer of democratic socialism.