I'm worried. To anyone that knows me, my admission will cause few eyebrows to be raised as I am known as someone who worries. Myriad worries cloud my day - some feel all encompassing whilst others are of the rather more prosaic and mundane worry grouping. But right now I am not worrying over the self-imposed deadline to finish my novel or whether I should switch my energy supplier, no I am worried about The World.
On the scale of worry, if treading on an ant and feeling bad is at one end of the scale and accidently pressing the button that launches a nuclear strike is at the other, I think worrying about the world is up there with the big guys of worrydom. It is akin to buying a house and setting down roots in Worryville.
Why worry about the world? Well, with the rise of extreme politics at both ends of the spectrum; terrorism; large swathes of people that seem to feel dissatisfied, disaffected and defeated by globalisation; raging inequalities on the basis of everything from gender to religion to wealth and an increasingly ugly tone in much public debate, it feels like a world that I didn't choose and it feels like a world I have little or no power to shape. It feels like a world that has lost the ability and more worryingly, the desire, to act with empathy, compassion and reason.
Brexit and Trump, far to say, two big events marking change in 2016. I didn't choose either. The Dutch, French and German elections coming up in 2017, I won't have a choice in. But all have the potential to unsettle and destabilise Europe and indeed, the world. We don't yet know if they will, to what extent and where that will lead but things certainly feel shaky. But the crux being, people did vote and will have a vote. All were and will be democratic processes in established democracies. I am a passionate advocate of democracy, but true democracy must be based on respect on all sides. I've heard many who say that the 'losers' (re both Brexit and Trump) need to just get on board with it or even, get over it. But what is that attitude saying about us? What is the near gloating of some on the 'winning side' and reluctance on the part of some, though not all of course, to still listen and care about the views of others, saying about us as people and as a country? Just because there is disagreement doesn't mean there needs to be disrespect and derision. Just because something is popular, doesn't make it right. Just because someone or something wins, doesn't make them the best.
Of course one person's out of kilter is another person's brave new world. What may seem strange to one person may seem perfectly understandable to someone else. Perspective and perception is of course subjective and surely that is a strength of a diverse democratic country. What is surely a weakness however is any country in which grown-ups get away with tantrums in place of intelligent, reasoned, respectful argument.
I was prompted to write this as I went to bed watching the demonstrations against Trump's new immigration policy. I woke up to hear President Trump had fired his acting Attorney General, Sally Yates. Parallels are already being drawn with Nixon's desire to fire Archibald Cox in the early 1970's and the strength both displayed in defying a President. It remains to be seen if parallels will continue to be appropriate, with the repercussions not yet known. It also remains to be seen if parallels will be drawn between Ms Yates and Mrs May and whether our Prime Minister will show similar integrity and strength on both the national and international stage in these times of flux and uncertainty.
Along with being a worrier I am also a hopeful person. No matter how bleak and bad things seem, I always hope that they can be better. If there is a problem, I hope there is a solution. If the world is in an unstable state, I hope that it can be ordered. I don't think this is naivety or inexperience or lack of intelligence or delusional. More, I believe it is a hope that is borne out by history and experience. Cox and Yates are just two examples of people who it would appear are able to act with integrity, in spite of potential personal or professional cost. Moreover, history is littered with examples of people who have stood up to oppression, resisted unfairness and raged against inequality.
Maybe it won't be as bad as I worry. Hopefully there are still plenty of people who will act with integrity and reason. Hopefully policies that are carefully considered and thoroughly evidence-based with aims that are reasonable and fair will be enacted and hopefully we will all realise that humanity, decency and compassion lay within us all and we will let that rise to the surface and shine. Hopefully...
My main worry is the pain we may all go through before this hoped for stability and kindness is in place and for that I can only hope, in the meantime, it is not all as bad as I worry it may be.