Believing in better, or are those days behind us?
Lia Thomas, Mother's Day and baby sharks (read that without singing the song!)
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Do you ever wake up and feel like once upon a time things made sense but now you’ve really not a got a clue what’s going on? Does it feel like the world is changing faster and more furiously than ever before? I think this happens to all generations, I tell myself that anyway #stoptheworldIwanttogetoff
In 2000, I was sitting with my first husband, having a coffee in Wimbledon shopping centre, the one that used to be above the tube station, possibly still is. We got married that summer and life was quite a shock to the system. It would be, we had never lived in the same country before tying the knot.
On a bus trip from Toronto to Boston, when we first met in 1996, we decided we wanted three children, and in a whirlwind of love struck frivolity, even named them. A few years later in a similar whirlwind, we got married. I summed up the courage that day in Wimbledon to break the news and say that I didn’t want to bring Zoe, Zak, or Molly into this world, it was becoming too much of an awful place. I cried as the commuters and shoppers bustled around us.
This was before 911, before the Afghanistan war, before the Iraq war, before when Malala was shot in the head, before Facebook, iPhones and the rise of social media. Even before all those things, I thought the world was going to hell in a hand basket (I still can’t find the origin to why the handbasket, but you catch my drift!)
Here we are, 22 years later and so much good has happened since (including the fact that we had two wonderful children a couple of years later), and now so much bad again. From baby Peter, Victoria Klimbie, Star Hobson and more, to Brexit, to Trump, to Covid, to the question over whether or not using the word woman is offensive, and of course, to what is happening in the Ukraine right now. The world once again feels like it’s changing shape, scarily Orwellian.
This is where I wish I’d paid more attention in History rather than placing raw eggs on Mr Atkinson’s chair to sit on to make the class laugh. It took me a while to value the lessons written in time. There has been so much talk over the last few years about living your best life, as if it’s our right for everything to be just perfect but we forget, all this difficult stuff happens too. Human nature, battles for power (both in the home and internationally), illness, poverty, tragedy, disaster - it’s all part of the picture that makes up the reality of life.
A huge amount of what we look at online is smoke and mirrors, even mainstream press is heavily curated and in a society that now likes everything in 140 characters (or whatever it is these days) Insta-everything, we want it all and we want it now.
We are fast losing the ability, and dare I say the will, to spend time absorbing truth and reality, and searching out the facts before coming up with our conclusions. Reality is experiencing the ups and the downs, learning to cope, to survive, to love, to forgive, to be strong, and to show up when we would rather hide away. This map shows the boundary lines changing over the last few hundred years. Change happens and sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for reasons steeped in greed and power.
There is another change that is creeping up on us that hit the headlines this week.
If you’ve not yet heard about the Lia Thomas saga, she’s just made history by becoming the first transgender person to win a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I (women’s) title and it has brought the trans conversation into mainstream media more than ever before.
It’s unlikely that you will hear much commentary from me on sports, however, on Joe Biden’s first day in office in 2021, he signed 17 acts. One of these was the gender discrimination act in which it said that athletes could choose which sex category to compete in, according to the gender they identify with. This means, a transwoman (a male bodied adult who identifies as being a woman) could enter and compete as a woman, in women’s sports events. Huh? I thought to myself …
It’s hard to know where to start on this, but as you lift the lid, you realise just how deeply this movement has infiltrated our society to the extent that we now hear women being described as cervix havers, chest feeders or pregnant people - all things that are only physically possible feats of nature for a woman. And yet, using the word woman is becoming all too often frowned upon.
Why does it matter? Because it threatens the very thing that our great-grandmothers and grandmothers fought for only a few decades back. It’s not whether or not the trans community should be given rights and freedom to live as they choose, of course they should, that’s a given - but not at the cost of acknowledging women and their rights for fear of offense.
If you saw the Olympic trans weight lifter Laurel Hubbard and thought it was all going to blow over quickly, it hasn’t. Ultimately in a free society you would think that people are free to be who they want to be and dress how they want to dress without having to change their identity in order to fit in. Change is inevitable, and often a good thing, but I can’t help but feel we are going backwards at the moment.
We don’t always get everything right first time. Smoking in the 50s and 60s was deemed good for a cough, we now know it’s a very different matter. The arrival of computers and microwave meals was meant to make life easier in the 70s and 80s, but instead gave birth to a greedy society that wanted more and more. Now we are having to undo some of that damage, both to our mental health and our planet.
So, when change comes along, we mustn’t be afraid to question it. What started out as an inclusive movement that seemed in every way a good and positive thing, is moving towards a movement that is more exclusive than ever before. If you feel like you don’t understand, don’t turn away, look at the facts that you know to be true, and listen to common sense. Trans people have rights. Women don’t have penises.
I watched David Attenborough with my daughter last week, and he reminded me that healing and change for the better can and does happen. Misool eco resort is one of the few places on earth where biodiversity is increasing.
It is located in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, and since becoming a protected zone, it has become a marine sanctuary where baby sharks that used to be hunted there are born safely, and once endangered turtles, now graze peacefully. There’s still a lot of work to be done as we need to turn 33% of our coastal regions into protected zones in order to make global impact, but it shows that it is possible. Good is possible. Sometimes we have to put the work in to preserve and protect it.
‘To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow’ Audrey Hepburn
And so I planted a garden. I had two children and I believe in tomorrow, even when the world feels like it doesn’t. Today is Mother’s Day and I’m not going to lie, I’m not a huge fan. I have a tricky relationship with my mum and so it always feels a bit of a forced occasion. On the flip side I have an amazing relationship with my kids, but I don’t ever want to force them into celebrating my role in their life. I want it to flow naturally, which it usually does. I say usually because they are 17 and 18, and they also think my world revolves around them:) As far as I’m concerned, long may they think that way - the time will come when that deep reassurance gives them the strength they need for everything else!
So perhaps in our search for happiness (see last week’s post - pleasure + purpose) may we be reminded that in the midst of everything, of the importance of freedom, that at times we must fight for it, and always believe in better.