The future looks depressing, but there are little things we can do

Image credit: Chatham House

I’ve been feeling so depressed about the future. It wasn’t meant to be this way. I am a mature student.  I got to grow up in an intolerant world that gradually seemed to become more accepting and progressive. It was exciting to see much of the world change for the better. Things were in no way perfect but it felt like with every year we were getting more and more on the right track. 

When Barack Obama was voted into office back in 2008 I remember crying with happiness. As a mixed-race woman, it felt like a win. I didn’t think a person of colour would be voted into office until I was much older, maybe very much older. But it happened and he was great. His wife was an inspiration too, always doing things to benefit her country. 

That was not enough for a large subsection of the United States who ended up choosing for the next president the man who had harassed Barack Obama for years over his place of birth. Donald Trump seemed to find it impossible to believe that Obama was born in Hawaii. His hyperbolic use of language became very public in those days. "He doesn't have a birth certificate, or if he does, there's something on that certificate that is very bad for him. Now, somebody told me—and I have no idea if this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be—that where it says 'religion,' it might have 'Muslim.' And if you're a Muslim, you don't change your religion, by the way."

It was disgusting but Donald Trump had always been a figure of fun during my lifetime. He was a joke who seemed to court the media for any little attention they would give him. Who cared what that loser said? But the Trumpster seemed to like the attention he received and ended up later running for office. Just like Brexit I remember thinking that it was not going to happen. People aren’t going to vote against their best interests. Why would anybody do that? 

When the Conservatives came to power in 2010 I was excited to see some of their more liberal policies. International development seemed to be a big deal for them and they shot down people who wanted it to be lowered. We even got same-sex marriage under the Conservatives. But bit by bit they eradicated the things that made me proud of my country. Legal aid had always been one of these things but that was made very limited in 2013. Cuts in welfare led to suicides. The use of food banks in the U.K increased year by year. Things started to feel very unjust and uneven. 

Then Brexit happened and people voted against their own interests. Since Brexit and then Trump coming to power the news has been a terrible place to spend any time. I had always believed that it was a person’s duty to keep abreast of the news but it has become unbearable. I often feel like it’s punching me in the stomach. 

Things will get better but it is going to be a fight. There are simple things we can all do to help. Important charities like Liberty and Amnesty International have affordable memberships for students. If you are interested in politics, join a party and try to achieve change from the inside. Make your voice heard. To quote my teen hero Daria Morgendorffer: “stand firm for what you believe in, until and unless logic and experience prove you wrong; remember, when the emperor looks naked, the emperor is naked; the truth and a lie are not "sort of the same thing"; and there's no aspect, no facet, no moment of life that can't be improved with pizza. Thank you.”

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