On the news about 35 trees being destroyed in anger by somebody in an area nearby.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-26629673

Lots of misplaced rage round these parts. They don’t even know why they’re so fucked off. So they enact it on those who are weaker or whom cannot answer back. Bubbling frustration from a sense of injustice in life. But growing rage that has no object of blame, so it picks the weakest/or that which cannot answer back in a society that exemplifies this everywhere, implicitly .The difference is that some of us, for some reason or another, learn not to take it out on those weaker than us, even if we do not understand what is causing our frustration (my argument is that some people never find an environment in which to think for themselves, and never move beyond the bullying-culture of secondary school). I also find it hard to contain my frustration at times, sometimes inanimate objects are regrettably smashed, but trees bring nothing but benefits to areas, and, even though I don’t do any guerrilla tree planting anymore, I keep eagle eyes on those trees I once planted, eager for them to evade the gaze of misdirected rage.

I don’t think there’s ever been a time when British didn’t have a strong leaning towards taking it out on those weaker; the film Kes, from 1969, (based on the book Kestrel for a Knave) was filmed in the very same parts of Barnsley as this news story – the protagonist, a scrawny young man with unresponsive to his expected lowly role in society, is repeatedly picked on and bullied by those around him who are clearly internally suppressed by these same social roles that have encased them; even in this historical period when Britain was as equal a society as it has so far been (the post war period).

Also, the aspects of our culture that takes things out on those weaker/who can’t answer back seems to increase under a Conservative government. With their ascendancy to power there always returns the nastier elements of society that we thought we’d left behind, in fact any illusions of social progress are instantly forgotten once they return to power – although New Labour’s championing of ‘multiculturalism’ (and other easy targets like in an hierarchical society) was always going to feel like a con whilst they pursued a Thatcherite economic agenda that continued the economic and social conditions that stoke frustrations and their cry for a violent outlet.

It doesn’t surprise me that we see random outbursts of rage; the “fuck it, let’s smash things up for no reason” always has a reason, it’s just that reason is often not known to whoever is doing it. Last week I was basically bullied off the road as I was walking back from work on a country lane. Part of the reason was that I too find myself very frustrated and angry about things at the moment (the state of the world in general, and also a feeling of my sense of self worth being driven over in the mud, as the violence aimed at self worth in a deeply hierarchical society such as Britain is often very hard to rise above), and being somebody who walks a lot in a nation dominated by cars, a frustration does build up against road bullies who marginalise the pedestrian further.

So, when an angry van driver sped past me, throwing verbal abuse at me through his window, seemingly because I was in his way as I walked down the correct side of a country lane, my anger burst out also, and I threw verbal abuse back at him. However, he pulled his van to a halt, and then started reversing towards me. Despite my own outburst of rage, I am not a confrontational person, and there was not one bone inside of me that wished to find out how he was about to react, so I started running. Eventually he stopped reversing and drove off. He “had won”, he had bullied me, and I had run away. Of course it was far wiser for me to run, than to wait for an outcome with somebody in control of a 3 tonne vehicle. But this is exactly the way things work in a society when lots and lots of people are frustrated and don’t why; the weakest are easy targets for bullying. To him, in the mist of his anger, I was a relatively soft-looking man, with glasses on; he wanted an outlet for his rage, and I was a safe bet. Just like those 35 trees at the other side of the borough.

This of course isn’t the whole story for what causes depressing acts of vandalism. And sometimes when I’m so angry about things myself, from within the red haze I wish to advise people to redirect their longing to smash things up closer to sources from where the pain is being dealt out. However, I usually refrain in fear in being arrested for in-sighting riots in an age of information surveillance. Also, as we have seen with those who go smashing up the windows of banks and the stores of tax-avoiding corporations (if not agent provocateurs themselves), it is only used by the right wing media to instill a fear into the rest of us to be ever more obedient to a social organistion that causes such frustration in the first place.

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About John Ledger

A visual Artist, eternal meanderer and obsessive self-reflector by nature, who can’t help but try to interpret everything from within the tide of society. His works predominantly take the form of large scale ballpoint pen landscape drawings and map-making as social/psychological note-making. They are slowly-accumulating responses to crises inflicted upon the self in the perplexing, fearful, empty, and often personality-erasing human world.

3 responses to “On the news about 35 trees being destroyed in anger by somebody in an area nearby.”

  1. DysthymiaBree says :

    Thank you for a thoughtful response to this act of vandalism. I have always felt a special connection with trees – not in a spooky way, just a great appreciation of them as a special part of the ecosystem.
    The city I spent my teens in a city which feels strongly about trees (Adelaide, South Australia). Below is a link to an image of some cement trees which were erected as a monument to their natural relatives which had to be cut down to enlarge a vital intersection:

    I thought you might appreciate it. You’ve got to love a city which values its trees so highly.

    • johnledger says :

      Yes, thanks for that. I used to be much more focused on trees a few years ago, used to plant them in areas I felt needed them, and generally did think a lot about how much nicer areas would be if trees were everywhere. Sadly, or perhaps inevitably, my artwork/thinking etc has become far more stuck in with socio-political issues, which although they were initially instigated by environmental concerns, have largely taken over. Hopefully one day I’ll get back into planting trees again.

      • DysthymiaBree says :

        Allow me to carry the torch for you! I love the idea of guerilla tree planting … Seed bombs … Unfortunately many of our natives are slow growing. It’ll be good for my spirit to practice patience.

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