I live in England, in Great Britain — in the united Kingdom.
OK, so I’m doing that whole quiet-pride thing because I got Great Britain and the United Kingdom the right way round: for interested ignorants, Great Britain does not include Northern Ireland. I guess UKExit didn’t have the same ring to it as brexit, despite it being technically accurate.
That’s beside the point, though, because the point is that this is where I live: England, arguably at the head of the western world, supposedly side-by-side with the USA.
And I like it here. I do, honestly.
Students from the UK, or the US, or any first-world country: how many times have you been told how fortunate you are, how lucky you are to live here? If your experiences are even vaguely similar to mine, then your answer will be a very, very high number. And rightly so — we are all so, so privillaged and lucky to live in our respective first-world countries. We have privileges, rights and opportunities which we take for granted, but children and adults alike from all over the world can hardly imagine, let alone gain access to. The right to vote, the right to freedom of speech and the press, the right to water, and food, and social care in the community, the right to be you — all of these are privileges which despite being fair, just and necessary worldwide, are available in a ridiculously low number of places.
Stop now, and just assess what you’re doing. I’m writing (using my right to education) a post on the Internet (using my privilege of Internet access) which includes my personal opinion (exercising my right to freedom of speech), sat in my home (which I can feel safe in), listening to a podcast (which I have the opportunity to discover and listen to). How about you? I can guarantee that something about your situation right now is positively affected by the place in which you live, and the rights which you have and exercise regularly.
When we hear of awful events in third-world countries, therefore, it can be nearly impossible to comprehend the effect that they must have on the people of that country, who don’t necessarily have the same rights, opportunities or living conditions as us. My focus here is on political uprisings: normal people taking a stand, risking their lives and their families’ lives to stand up for what they believe in, usually for what is right.
I respect them.
We can’t relate to that, though, because we live in a democratic society where governments are elected, decisions are made by the people, and we are all informed about what is going on around us, both in and out of Parliament, or your country’s equivalent.
Increasingly, though, I feel a change. Something is happening across the world, indiscriminate of rights, of opportunities, of living conditions — something is changing around us, and it is quickly becoming clear that we need to make a choice: to stand with it, or against it.
Before I start, let me just make it clear: I am in no way stating that political protests or uprisings in first-world countries are anywhere near as devastating as they are in third-world countries. They’re not, and for now never will be. I am not making a direct comparison of actions — more a comparision of ideas and motives. If this is unclear in my post, or I sound disrespectful in this regard at any point in this post, please drop me a comment, tweet, email — whatever seems appropriate. I do not wish to offend or upset anybody.
what triggered this post was a relatively small protest that took place in London today, associated with the trending Twitter hashtag #DayOfRage. It was labelled an ‘anti-government protest’ — British people, actively protesting against our sort-of-elected government; British politics is a bit complicated at the moment. Whether I agree of disagree with this movement is beside the point, and I’m not going to go there, for fear of moving attention away from the main point of my post. In the UK, this is the first organised ‘anti-government protest’ that I can remember. sure, there are always people expressing discontent and disapproval towards the ruling political parties, and that’s simply because no political party will ever receive 100% of the vote: and that’s healthy.
We’ve already seen mrotests such as this one this year, nost noteably in the United States of America, back in January. I say it was in the US, but it was more widespread than that — it happened across the planet. The women’s March was an unmistakeable protest against the democratically-elected President of the United states, Donald trump. Love him or hate him, he was elected, not through the popular vote but through the established Electoral College.
What is the message here, though? Is it simply that feelings and emotions are gbcoming entangled with politics — as they were in 1980s Britain, particularly during the Miners’ Strikes? Or, are democratic votes producing closer and closer results, meaning that there are more people who do not agree with the ruling party, President etc? Or maybe it’s because political decisions are getting more important, and people have extremely strong views on current affairs, thanks to the ease of information-sharing these days?
Regardless of why these events are taking place, it’s made me think, and I’think I’ve decided why they affect me (in terms of thought) so much.
I never thought that this would happen in my country.
I never saw my country as a place of disagreement or argument, and the unveiling of that truth makes me … nervous. Nervous, but happy — happy, because people are exercising their right to freedom of speech, and to be who they are. And whilst these are unsettling times for governing parties and oppositions, for the young and the old, for the rich and