I always knew the world wasn’t perfect, there was much still to fight for, but I didn’t think we would actually start going backwards towards more intolerance, more inequality, less acceptance of scientific fact.
Dreadful stuff went on around the world, of course, but I believed, perhaps without thinking about it, that humanity as a whole was heading in the right direction, and that privileged nations such as my own were helping others towards more enlightened policies and practices. European nations were working together, LGBT rights were recognised, the Berlin Wall came down, peace in Northern Ireland, we stopped killing all the whales, the threat of nuclear armageddon seemed more distant, China was opening up, we fixed the ozone layer…
Now I’m listening to people openly, in broad daylight, in Western democracies, discussing the introduction of torture, the reduction of women’s choices and closing the doors to refugees based on their religion. People in power are no longer just equivocating about environmental matters, but are actively rejecting and undoing the paltry measures that we’ve taken so far. I’ve been told I’m not European any more. God forbid I might not even be British anymore, just English. I am bewildered and not a little panicky.
I’ve always tried to do things to help the world along, particularly on the environmental side. We built our own biogas generator to make clean electricity, and I always make green choices at home and in my business. I’ve also tried to do something to reject the pernicious gender-stereotyping and #everydaysexism that surrounds us, particularly since I’ve had children (#LetClothesBeClothes #LetToysBeToys).
Clearly it wasn’t enough. Clearly I need to do a lot more.
I look at my children and think of all that I need to teach them to help them cope in what might not be, as I always assumed, a future that is brighter and more enlightened. The future looks like a scary place, but I have to fight my instinct to hide away from it and insulate my children. It’s hard for an introvert, but I’m going to find more ways to stand up and push back.