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These last few weeks have been pretty awful for life-changing events in our country. Dodgy political happenings, terrorist attacks, huge-scale devastating fires.
I for one have felt completely shattered about all the recent happenings: I missed the Borough Market attack by a mere whisker, spent all night glued to the election result following the surprising exit poll, wept over the Manchester One Love concert, felt sick at the Grenfell Tower fire and wondered at the evil that prompted the Finsbury Park terror attack.
They’re friends we’ve never met. It becomes personal, heartbreaking.
In such connected times it makes sense these disasters are so personal to us. We’re notified on our news apps within moments of tragedy hitting: I found out about the London Bridge/Borough Market terror attack ten minutes after I left the area and spent the night awake watching the news and trending hashtags on my iPad. With these big-scale disasters we follow the stories of survivors and later on, victim’s families on social media, feeling involved in their lives, their tragedies becoming our tragedies.
Where once our news stories were nameless faces in a newspaper, they’re now members of our communities, kids at our school, friends we’d never met. It becomes personal, heartbreaking.
It’s similar when it comes to politics. I remember going to vote with my mum when I was a kid, asking her whose box she was ticking. Back in the day she’d tell me that voting was not something you discussed: like how much you earned, it was a personal nugget of information disclosed under no circumstances.
That doesn’t fly in the time of Facebook, however. We’ve never been so vocal in broadcasting our opinions – it’s the easiest thing in the world to post our political leanings and respond to others’, and not always with grace and thoughtfulness it has to be said.
It’s natural to feel a sense of helplessness, and want to do something – anything – to help progress our cause.
But these social platforms have given us a place where we feel important, where we’re able to educate ourselves with news and opinions. I shamefully didn’t place my first vote until a few years after I was able because I didn’t believe I could make a difference: social media taught me we all deserve to be heard and counted in our democratic voting process.
I wasn’t the only one who’s been quite freaked out by the election result and subsequent events. It’s been heartening to see the reactions, the passion and the drive we all share to make our world a happier place for us and our children. But it’s natural to feel a sense of helplessness, and want to do something – anything – to help progress our cause.
Thankfully there are things we can do to assuage our feelings of powerlessness. Donate time, donate money, publicise our beliefs. Heck, I even took the step of giving my local (Tory) MP a grilling over the issues I feel passionate about; predictably he gave long and detailed answers full of numbers and political lexicon, with none of those answers really applying to the questions I’d asked.
I came home and renewed my membership to the Labour party.
In short, these last few weeks have let me feeling quite depressed on the whole. Our white middle class privilege is evident more than ever in our world of politics, and it’s heartbreaking that people are dying, actually dying as a result of their circumstance, economic status or religion.
I feel so massively guilty that I get to swan around with my bag of shopping from Waitrose before nipping off on a spa weekend with my man friend while there are those in full time employment – bloody nurses – relying on food banks. When our state housing can’t be trusted to keep us safe. When our politicians lie and our newspapers are implicit: it’s a dystopian nightmare and we can’t change it with a click of our fingers.
As mums, there’s one thing we can do when we feel so powerless, and that is continue to be the best at that job. It’s something I’ve thought about every day since our world started going south down Shit Street, and it’s something we can actually do.
Love your kids every day, teach them right from wrong, show them how to appreciate love each other without judgement. Teach them loyalty, forgiveness, pride, resourcefulness. Maybe even agree they’ve got the ability to morph into a Power Ranger (yes darling, you can be whoever you want to be, even the green Power Ranger).
Our kids, they’re the future. And we’re the ones to get them there.