First there was the global economic downturn. So many things that we took for granted, you know, like jobs, disappeared, seemingly overnight.
Then we got a Tory led coalition government elected on a platform of austerity. At that time I woke up in a state of despair for many days believing things couldn’t get much worse. We’re all in this together, they said, which would have been funny if only it weren’t the poorest and most vulnerable that were really getting hit.
But you learn to tolerate a certain level of despair. You become accustomed to it, accustomed feeling alienated from not only those ruling your country but also those who support them, whether other institutions, elements of media or even a few of those you know and love. You wonder why some people are so hateful towards others, how it is that their hearts are filled with fear rather than love. You wonder and despair yet retain some hope. You hold on to an optimism which says this is a blip, an aberration. One day soon normal service will be resumed and everyone will look back and wonder what in earth happened to common decency and kindness and respect and tolerance. One day we might even be able to laugh about it.
Only that day never comes. Instead we wake up the morning after another election feeling battered and bruised and confused. How did that happen? Not only did the bad guys win, they did much better than last time. Hell, they did better than they expected they would. Even they are confused about it.
We tighten our belts and brace ourselves for the worst while still valiantly believing that the whole wretched nightmare will be over soon.
Only then Brexit.
The country you’ve lived in all of your life becomes unrecognisable overnight. Again even the winners seem unprepared for their victory which only makes you further comprehend (as if you needed any reminding) how ridiculous the entire idea of leaving the EU is. You also discover that no one has any actual plan as to what to do. Great.
The nation is up shit creek without a paddle and any remnants of optimism that you were still harbouring are fading fast. You become suspicious of everyone you know and meet. You stare into the faces of strangers and wonder is this down to you? Are you one of the ones who voted out? Worse still are you one of the ones who voted out with little or no idea of the consequences? What do you mean you didn’t realise the Prime Minister would resign?!
All of your snobberies, biases and judgements come out in full force. You don’t like the way this makes you feel but struggle to act otherwise. Desperately you clutch at straws, clinging on to the hope that there is any hope left to have.
Once more you think this is it, things cannot get any worse. We’ve austerity, a hard line government, we’re leaving the EU even if no one knows how and the political opposition choose this moment to implode. Oh and Boris Johnson is made Foreign Secretary.
Sometimes we get distracted by the Punch and Judy side show happening in the US. We laugh at the Trump shenanigans until suddenly we aren’t laughing anymore.
Still things couldn’t get any worse.
Yesterday things got worse.
Yesterday things got a whole lot worse.
And the worse part of this worseness?
I no longer believe that things cannot get any worse.
I’ve wised up. With this latest turn of events I know things are going to get much, much worse – and there’s not even a vague hope of anything getting better any time soon.
Maybe, perhaps, it’ll only (only!) be for four years. Except a lot of damage can be done in four years; a lot of irreversible damage. And we’ll probably still be mopping up the repercussions of Brexit then anyway.
Twenty seven years ago the Berlin Wall came down. International politics change overnight. The whole world changed overnight.
On the same day in 2016 international politics again changed overnight. The world changed overnight – but the two events couldn’t feel more different.
Looking forward…looking backwards.
Tearing down walls…putting them up.