Our Children Deserve Better Than Political Apathy

01/02/2017 17:37
Bastiaan Slabbers via Getty Images

Politics never used to be my "thing". I would join in with discussions, but I never considered myself particularly political. At university I joined political parties (because that's what you do when you're at uni, apparently), but never did anything about it. My activism extended to the odd angry tweet and not much else. Politics was confusing and boring; the reserve of stuffy old men in suits who wanted to argue with each other.

Then my outlook changed; my political apathy turned into anger, spurred on by what I saw as a violation of human rights; the systematic mistreatment of the poor and disabled. Still, my anger never translated into action. I still tweeted angrily, but nothing more. I felt ashamed of my inaction, but did nothing to change it.

Fast-forward to January 2017, which sees a man whose every word I abhor become President of the United States. This new president is endorsed by racists; adored by sexists; he panders to Neo-Nazis. His administration is pro-white men, at the expense of everyone else. Our Prime Minister rolls over and holds his hand, as a country that didn't elect her watches in horror. My years of apathy won't cut it anymore.

So I will march. When Trump visits the UK to be greeted with the pomp and circumstance of a state visit, he will also be greeted by, quite possibly, the biggest UK protest in living history. I will be there, with friends and family who refuse to see our country kowtow to a president who stands for alienation, injustice and fear. Not only that, I have an example to set.

I can't afford to be politically apathetic anymore. I have a daughter, who is almost three, and I need to set an example. I need to show her that if there is something in this world that you think is unjust, the last thing you should do is "suck it up" and ignore it. To quote Desmond Tutu, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor". I failed to act on my anger when the government cuts affected the disabled and poor. I will not make the same mistake again.

My goal isn't to make my daughter hate Trump. It isn't to tell her that liberals are good and Conservatives are bad, or that the only views she can have are left-wing, pro-minority views. If she grows up as a Trump-supporting, right-wing member of UKIP, it'll make for some pretty interesting dinner table discussions, but at least she will be passionate about something.

More than that, I want her to know what I know. Generations of women before me campaigned for my right to vote and to have a voice politically, and I refuse to throw that away. We will march for women, LGBT+ communities, people of colour, immigrants, refugees and anyone betrayed by the ideals of the Trump administration.

I hope she will see that we marched for women to have the right to choose what happens with their bodies, and to know that no part of them is property that a man can "grab", and that we marched for people of all sexualities to feel comfortable with who they are and who they love without fear of being forced into "conversion therapy", with the right to marry who they choose. I hope she will see that we marched for people to live lives that they are comfortable with, regardless of how they identify, and that we marched for no-one to be treated worse than anyone else based on the colour of their skin. I hope she will see that we marched for the refugees, who are only refugees because our countries insist on "freeing them". We will protest, and we will continue to protest for the rest of our lives if we must, because we owe it to them.

More than anything, I hope she will look back at our generations, the way I look back at generations before me, and say "Their protests secured our futures. We have to do the same for our children", and to stand up and fight when she sees injustice too.

That's why, when I march, I won't have a funny slogan on my placard. Instead, it will have a line from the musical Hamilton.

"I may not live to see our glory, but I will gladly join the fight".

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