This old 2016 has been full of loss and political chaos, war and discrimination, anger, and a feeling of disenfranchisement.
That last one though – the disenfranchisement. This sense has been blamed for the electoral madness engulfing the world: from One Nation here, and Brexit in the UK to the rather frightening Trumpitude in the US. People in economic strife look to change-makers – or at least change-promisers. Those bellowing loudest that they speak for THE PEOPLE – with scarce knowledge of what lives these PEOPLE live. Those fear-mongering to promote themselves. Those instilling despair and terror in the face of relative well-being. Those blaming otherness, and fostering hatred.
This is where we find ourselves at the end of 2016: the political system in the US is being staffed by race-hate, science-denialists and religious zealotry. The UK is terrified of the very immigration system which staffs their hospitals and schools, their pubs and shops, and creates such a vibrant nation. Australia leaning so far in to the right-wing populist approach that the reasonable and sane man supposedly leading the country has such minimal power and voice to do, you know, anything. Russia is sowing dissent everywhere and the Middle East is destroying its history and peoples at an unprecedented rate. Climate change is still being debated, rather than addressed, in the face of blatant facts.
We rant on social media. We post emojis of wonder at the pace of the world. We blog our snide and sarcastic posts. We laugh at the inane politics of the world. And we go back to our lives, and settle in to complacency.
This however, is our call to arms. This is the voice of the world trying to rouse us from our complacency. And where are we? Looking at youtube videos instead. Politics turns. People get angry and power switches sides. This is the entire point of political freedom – get angry and DO SOMETHING. Case in point – America essentially got bored of the whole election brouhaha and decided that voting was too much trouble. Those who voted were angry, or disenfranchised, or fired up – they heard the call to arms and rose up. In Australia, people who rarely take heed of political issues were befriended and entranced by candidates who sounded like them, and played on their fears. They voted in great numbers for the fear-mongerers and left old Malcolm and Bill with barely a toe between them upon which to stand.
This, dear world, is our chance. We have been stagnating and taking our sane, progressive world for granted. Progress requires action. It requires strident voices and a willingness to engage ALL members of the community. It needs us to stand up and speak out for those at the fringes of society. We do need to keep fighting for action addressing climate change and racism, religious persecution and gender bias, hatred and fear.
Knowing that we are right is a dangerous position. It encourages blind faith that the world will come around eventually.
Stand up. Speak your mind. Argue the path forward. The standard we walk past is the standard we accept; the lies we ignore are the lies we accept; and I for one do not accept this political swing to borderline fascism. Complacency is easy. Complacency is expecting someone else to stand up for our beliefs. Complacency is the breeding ground of fear. Encourage debate, discussion and education. Look for answers rather than thundering statements. Get political. Get invested in our future, because by the looks of world politics, no-one else will do so. Have a voice. Because those fringe voices? Are getting louder by the day.
Grow up, 2016. We need to be better next year.