Humans have collective short memories. Perhaps due to our short life spans or perhaps we feel history is just one thing after a-bloody-nother. Which, of course, it is – and it is usually the same thing after the same thing. It is why political parties that spout racial hatred can still gain inexplicable support. Whenever UKIP are compared to the Nazis, it is seen as an exaggeration, but the point is that Hitler didn’t just start putting people he thought inferior into gas chambers straightaway. It starts smaller, gradual, before going full blown. But, yes, people forget. People don’t learn from history.
And this is why I get a tiny bit frustrated when people say: “The world has gone crazy, what is going on?!” after the latest terrorist attack or murder or far right march. What world do these people think they were living in a few months ago? Some kind of utopian paradise? Because, and I’m sorry to break this to everyone, it has never been that way. It is such a weird mentality to react to a fresh horrible event like everything had been going swimmingly for the previous one thousand years.
I am not suggesting that we should be numb to it. I am not suggesting that Jo Cox’s murder, or the terrorist attacks in Orlando and Nice were not absolutely horrific, disgraceful and upsetting. And, I agree, British politics is definitely all over the place at the moment. However, the world has always been consistently full of intolerance and unnecessary death – some days might be worse, sure (well, at least, some days may have worse news stories) – but let’s not kid ourselves. Humans are shits. Humans are awesome. As they were six months, five years, thirty years, two hundred years ago.
I understand that, as strange as it sounds, it is probably more comforting to think the world has only just gone to pot. It means that a better world is still only just within our grasp, because we were living in it not long ago. However, thinking that the last few months have been more awful than any time previously is dangerous and, quite frankly, lazy. It helps to dismiss the larger issues that have been ongoing since well before any of us were around. These political and murderous events did not just come out of nowhere, they are happening because of how bad things were previously; they are happening off the back of previous (perhaps less reported) political and murderous events.
I am not denying that humanity tends to take a few steps back every now and again. Just look at the eighties, particularly in the UK. The right wing won when Thatcher had finished with us, in that right wing politics was suddenly centre. It was the norm to think of profit over people; the norm to be as selfish as fuck. Thatcher said her greatest achievement was New Labour. This is why a lot of shit has risen to the service in the UK lately, because if the fact that all the parties went ‘centre’. It is why we got UKIP and BNP, due to the Tories been tamer (although, of course they are not – they just put on a friendlier face while they kill), but it is also why we have got Jeremy Corbyn (for now, at least) and why the Green Party is continuing to grow in popularity. Which, adversely to popular opinion, means that certain elements of UK politics are looking a whole lot better than they did a year ago.
The EU Referendum also brought a lot of bad stuff to the surface. But it was always there. That little England racist bollocks has been recklessly ignited by the likes of UKIP and the Daily Express but there has always been racist and homophobic hate crime. And terrorist attacks.
In general, humans gradually get better. More tolerant and enlightened. Even with a few steps back every now and then. As figures showed from the referendum, it is younger people that tended to vote Remain. The future has promise. But until working class people stop consuming right wing media, we are never going to get fully past what happened in the eighties and we are never going to get governments who are going to spend money on education and healthcare rather than on bombs. There will be more bad days to come, but, in general, it is not going to get worse. It has always been shit. It has always been awesome. Let’s concentrate on the latter and, for once, make sure it wins long term. #KeepCorbyn will be a bloody good start.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/84104729@N00/2234075736″>Buddhist Vision of Hell</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>