• michaelabennison

Popping the Bubble

When people ask me about my life at The Royal Academy of Music, I describe it like being in a bubble.

The same corridor. The same rooms. The same teachers and tutors. The same 32 people sharing highs and lows, tears and laughter.

My year there felt, to me, like a cocoon of heavy curtains, blocking out the world while we learnt to tilt our larynges (that's the plural of 'larynx' - who knew?!) and play the wants of imaginary people.

And now the bubble has burst. Not spectacularly. More like the soapy edge has disintegrated, dissolved away and left us blinking in the sunlight.

The thing about bubbles and cocoons is that they feel safe. We know whats's in them; they contain the world we live and breath. In the case of leaving RAM, outside has meant getting a job I hate, paying bills again, having to manage my own time...

But I knew that particular bubble would pop.

However there are bubbles bigger than my personal one that have been burst. Bubbles that are broken into by the outside before they naturally decay.

Caused by events like the police brutality against African Americans in the USA, or the thousands of refugees fleeing Syria and other parts of the world.

When the walls we build around our lives are broken into, there are two things we can do: we can reject the invading force and create narratives for ourselves that allow us to return to our cocoon of safety, or we can accept the changes and use our humanity to face the new challenges they present.

I have been lucky enough to see many people choosing the latter path. But many people aren't, turning to racism and xenophobia as an excuse to ignore the suffering they are witnessing. And, in the case of the refugee crisis, it seems to be this unwillingness to empathise that is partially to blame for hostile government policy and the reluctance of several EU nations to act.

It is hard for us to connect with the global community we are part of - we have only evolved to bond with family-sized groups, not a planet of 7 billion people. But we are no longer a planet of isolated nations. The actions of any one country have effects that ripple around the world.

And striving to remain ignorant of that fact will help no one.

The answer, I feel, is compassion. It is easy for the body of a toddler on a beach to illicit a compassionate response, but that needs to be extended to every man, woman and child on this planet. And the more compassion we show, the more pressure there will be for governments to act.

By the looks of things, the change may take a while. But what do I know? I'm just a 20-something actor trying to figure out how to be a good person.

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