Social change is coming as every person on this planet, no matter their colour, their racial heritage or their place in society has the right to control the major decisions in his or her own life.
*Warning – before you read any further, please note that this article contains racist terms as a point of illustration. I am pointing this out now as I don’t wish you to be offended or for you to believe that I am in any way racist. I wholeheartedly support the Black Lives Matter movement and continue to do what I can to support people and communities in an inclusive way to Drive Change For Good for EVERYONE.
Biologically we are all the same.
At the time of writing this article, bio-tech enhancements are not yet a real thing so nobody is better than anybody else; we are all the result of our life choices and more importantly the life choices that our parents made for us based on the choices that their parents made for or about them.
While some of us may struggle with this on an emotional level because of guilt or blame or just misguided loyalties to the system, Intellectually, people know this is so, at least some of the people do.
The people who have been lucky enough to grow up in an educational system that allows students the freedom to question what they are being taught and gain a fuller comprehension of the world and social change around them.
They have also benefited from being on campuses that enable daily contact with their peers; peers from the complete spectrum of different racial heritages, as well as people who identify with every option on the LGBT spectrum.
To use my youngest daughter as an example, she attends a local sixth-form college and has friends in her classes whose sexual preferences and identification is a total smorgasbord. Contrary to the very loud opinion of some people, including politicians, this has not impacted on my daughter or any of her friends. Not on their ability to turn up at college every day and work hard towards their A’ levels or building strong friendships with each other.
In fact, the most significant impact upon this group of young people who have become friends is the fact that they have become more compassionate and supportive of each other and as a behavioural consequence, anyone else around them. They are open about their anxieties and their fears and are therefore able to be readily supported and offer support within the group from whatever life throws at them.
I cannot unfortunately say that this open and tolerant group make up more than the minority of the students, because as I said at the outset, they are all very much a product of their parents long before they are become the product of their peers.
Most parents from the college catchment area will be blue-collar workers or people who have been on long term benefits. Social change is probably something they have heard of, but don’t fully understand how to take action on it. Brought up by parents and families who saw their employment opportunities dwindle dramatically over the last 30 years and have constantly felt threatened by outsiders (both racial outsiders “foreigners” and just other “English” people from outside the geographical area, taking up their employment opportunities.
As a consequence of this, these small villages, the same as small villages elsewhere in England, Wales and Scotland, distrust different, they worry about ‘New’.
One Member of Parliament criticised the potential LGBGT training that children in primary school were going to be given by saying: ‘parents always know what is best for their child’and that if they want to remove their child from the training then they should be able to do so.’
Could there be an older and more flawed expression ever used?
“Parents know best.”
I went to secondary school in Manchester in the mid 1970s. It was a boy’s only school in a fairly rough catchment area, with lots of the boys coming from single parent families wearing hand-me-downs and physically having to fight for the good things in life.
I’m telling you this so you understand my point of reference and that the best that you can say if you’re lucky is, “Parents do their best.”
Quite often in the media we read or hear about parents who are not doing their best by their children and they are heavily criticised, even vilified and perhaps rightly so. But I would imagine that the majority of the time that they are probably just reiterating the parenting models that were given to them by their parents or main carers and don’t understand the fuss.
I guess that people of a similar age to me won’t need examples of the kind of racist, homophobic behaviour that was inherent in society during the 1970’s, when people were openly referred to as ‘N*g-Nogs’.
‘Looking gay’ was enough to get you beaten up in the middle of the street in broad daylight. More often than not, this just meant that you were smartly dressed in an area where most people were wearing second-hand clothing.
So, the children took on the aggression, the bitterness and the feeling of hopelessness from their parents at a very early age, leading to an entire swathe of children who were absolutely sure that upon leaving school there would be nothing for them.
And as is the case so often, they were proven absolutely right as they grew into those expectations.
There were other boys in that school; boys who were naturally gifted academically, boys whose parents held professional positions in the community, boys who were natural athletes and excelled in everything they did and of course they had a different view of the world. To them it was a game, a game to be won and that’s what they did. Lastly were the handful of ‘lost boys’ the dreamers who wandered through secondary school like they had walked into the middle of a foreign language film marathon and had lost the timetable and it didn’t have subtitles.
Interestingly, not all of the boys had parents who held professional positions and went on to college. A couple of the natural athletes went into the Army and a bunch of them stayed on in the six form to do their A’ levels before going to university.
The ‘lost boys’ either drifted into sixth form, or College, or just disappeared.
The only thing that everybody had in common were the learned behaviours that the school had instilled into us:
‘Authority was arbitrary and never fair. Every day happiness depended on your level of importance within the pupil hierarchy.’
You were referred to by your Surname and none of us had a clue how to communicate with anyone about anything like feelings or opinions… let alone talk with girls!
Thankfully things have changed over the last quarter of a century or so. And society has generally become more tolerant in many ways.
However, at a time like now, where there is so much insecurity about the future, people always revert back to their more basic fears and anxieties. So yet again we are having to cope with a constant stream of casual racism disguised as Nationalism, anti-Semitism and worryingly, public attacks on same-sex couples.
If we continue to blindly follow the idea that “parents know best” then we will continue to have a divided community ad infinitum.
It would be naïve to believe that the majority of young children are sitting with enlightened parents who are being told that what happened was wrong and nobody should have to endure that sort of behaviour in today’s society. It is more likely that there will always be those children who due to their parents poor education, religious indoctrination or just inferior social skills, and hanging round with the wrong people, will be telling their children that the couple ‘got what they deserved’ because ‘it’s just not right.’
This will always be the case unless we are strong enough to make the changes necessary to create a better life for us all in the long term.
We are all aware of the fact that Humans have an innate urge to group together, ancestrally it was for safety and survival.
In society today we cannot allow the tribalism that politics has become to isolate social groups from each other.
It is time for a more intelligent approach. It is time that we drive change for good.
It is our duty, firstly as human beings and secondary as responsible parents, to ensure that our children have the best possible grounding emotionally and the information necessary to make the most of their lives in the future and as a result ensure that our communities are made the most of.
I for one, (and I think I am far from being alone in saying this), as a teenager would much rather have been in a compassionate group that encouraged growth and maturity, rather than the current scenario that allows people to extend their schoolyard ethics and behaviour that enables young men and women to act irresponsibly well into their late twenties.
Social change is coming.
You can see it in the attitudes of our younger people today. You can hear it in their discussions, their plans about the future, the environment and joint responsibility.
Parents must allow their children to understand the wider workings of the world, whether or not they agree with it, to enable those children to be equipped to build open friendships and be able to respond maturely and non-judgementally to events or people outside of their experience.
Whatever your skin colour, your religious beliefs or your racial heritage, you are human beings first.
Don’t you think it’s about time we started to remember that more often?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so please comment below and please reach out if you would like to join forces with me in ending loneliness in every community.