There have been many times in my life that I have been told that I need to calm down, to not let things get to me so much, to essentially care less about things. And sometimes I truly wish I were able to do that, because it is hard to care so much about so many things. Caring as much as I do has a massive impact on my physical (and occasionally mental) health. And I can see why people close to me often wish I could care less about things when they see it making me feel so ill.
But God Damn It, there are too many injustices in this world, too many ways in which we are destroying our planet and each other, for us to care less about things. We need to be caring more! As Dr Seuss writes in The Lorax, “Only if someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better…its not.”
There are some truly amazing people in our world, fighting tooth and nail to create change. And yet more often than not, those same people are subjected to the most awful hatred simply for having the nerve to care. The essential message of which is, “how dare they, how very dare they question the status quo? We don’t want to be shown the uncomfortable truths of our privilege.” And yet, as Greta Thunberg recently asked, “how dare you?” How dare we ignore the science for 30 years, pushing us towards this crisis point? How dare we put this upon our children’s conscience? How dare we rob their innocence and childhood? I imagine Greta wishes she could care less too.
Our children are acting more like grown-ups than we are. My 8 year old son seems to have greater compassion than many adults, and is certainly more receptive to trying to understand the views of others as well as his own. The Brexit debate, for instance, has so polarised our nation that those who attempt to reach a middle ground are seen as the villains by both sides, rather than the more logical way forward.
I’m getting so damn tired of trying to repeat, time and time again, that whilst I voted to Remain I respect the result of the Referendum, however I will never accept that this means we must have Brexit at all costs. Pushing for a No Deal Brexit, despite all warnings about the damage this would cause, and going as far as to prop up a government willing to remove parliamentary sovereignty to get its way, is essentially saying the ends justify the means. But the ends never justify the means!
And before I get tarred as “just another Remoaner who wants to stop Brexit at all costs”, I repeat that I respect the result of the Referendum. I respect that Leave won. I also recognise that it won with a very slim majority. And that we’ve spent the past 3 years arguing about it. The country is completely divided, and so I’m as much against revoking Article 50 as I am against a No Deal Brexit. Both options are extreme ends of the spectrum, and nothing good ever comes from extremes.
Extreme Austerity measures have left thousands of families poorer. They have contributed to the rise in homelessness, rough sleeping, and food bank use. And they have led to the deaths of thousands of people whose benefits have been removed.
Extreme manufacturing processes and consumer behaviours have led to the overuse of single-use plastics, unacceptably high carbon emissions, and a throwaway culture that not only leads to more landfill use but also greater levels of debt in many cases.
Extreme religious views have contributed to ignorance, intolerance, and instability. Despite living in an increasingly global society we seem to be becoming more and more polarised by the second. We live in an us vs. them situation most of the time, and it has to stop!
My views aren’t extreme, far from it in fact. But they aren’t always the norm. And it often feels as if society is happier to accept the status quo, regardless of the extremity of such views and practices, than to consider that there might be a better, kinder way to live with each other.
We don’t want to see our own bias and privilege (and we all have biases and privilege, it’s just sometimes having them reflected back at you can be incredibly uncomfortable). We’d rather continue as normal, accepting that the cost that others may incur is their problem and not ours. But that isn’t fair. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not fair to us. As hard as it is to step out of our own comfort zones, it is important that we do so.
Look, I get it, this is hard. I hate realising that I’ve been living in blissful ignorance of things like racism, religious intolerance, and hate crimes against those within the LGBTQ+ community. I have so much to learn, and it feels painful to realise that my own actions could have caused harm. But nothing is ever going to change if I don’t accept that I can’t know it all, and I need to sit up and listen and try to learn.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to care so much. It would be so much easier to care less, so much less painful in many ways. But I can’t care less, not now. I owe it to everybody who is relying on somebody to care enough to fight for change. I owe it to all those who are out there, putting themselves on the front line, pushing for change. And I owe it to myself and my family to care enough to want a fairer world.