For most of my life I have battled depression. The overwhelming cause has been the feeling of inadequacy but today I realised that the cause now is the state of the world around me.
I try thinking that I have more years behind me than in front and that I have no children but then I remember my nieces and nephew and all the lovely students that I have had the privilege of teaching, who have children of their own, But not just these children but all the children in the world.
Here is a list of the things causing my concern.
1) I know that 52% of the people who voted in 2016, voted to leave the EU, but did it ever cross their minds that it would be their children who would suffer. No more automatic movement to where the jobs are. Leaving the EU will not bring jobs back to the UK. Manufacturing is increasingly automated. Will the British be prepared to do the jobs that EU nationals do now – the cleaning, the crop picking, and the nastier jobs in social services? We rely on EU nationals in the NHS, to drive our trains to name but two but the EU also allows British citizens to do jobs in the EU, or even to retire there. I think it is dreadful that UK citizens living in the EU but outside the UK got no vote.
2) My mother is old enough to remember what life was like before the NHS. Her parents hoping that they had enough money to cover the cost of a doctor if one of their daughters got ill. Some families had to rely on charity, which wasn’t always available. The UK does not spend enough of its GDP on health and we as citizens do not pay enough taxes to support it. I only hope that my good health lasts as I get older so that the NHS can treat other people.
3) In 1970 I failed my eleven plus and I can’t begin to tell you what a dreadful effect this had on my life. The career I had chosen for myself from the age of 7 basically disappeared. It took me four extra years to get to the same position as my peers who passed and the feeling of failure has stayed with me ever since. I believe it was the major reason why, despite spending three years on it, I did not write up my PhD. I heard on the news today that 300 free school grammar schools are on the cards throughout the UK and my first thought that there will be an awful lot of children who will experience the sense of failure that I did. Comprehensive schools do work and they do not fail the able student. I have taught students who have gone to Oxford and Cambridge (one is in his first year of a physics degree at Oxford as I write this).
4) The UK will no longer take in child refugees. I hope the government can live with itself.
5) The United States voted in a buffoon for president. Under him some Americans will lose their healthcare and pollution levels will rise. His anti-immigration policy is just as stupid as our post Brexit one. Technically if the US wants to get rid of immigrants then everyone should leave except for the Native Americans (who are still treated badly). Trump, himself, is the son of immigrants. A wall won’t stop determined Mexicans and I am glad. Immigrants do the jobs that US citizens don’t want to do. Americans who voted for Trump will be disappointed. Any new jobs will be automated. His government is made up of people who have no qualifications for their jobs, and in some cases are there because of money paid out.
6) The climate. If things aren’t done then in 19 years carbon dioxide levels will reach the point of no return. I will probably still be alive.
7) The treatment of women. I quite like being female and I am pleased that girls have more opportunities than I did but things seem to be quietly going backwards. Russia is once again allowing husbands to hit their wives and the new US government want to prevent women having control over their own bodies. Now I am against abortion myself but I would not presume to tell another female what she should do.
8) The treatment of Muslims is appalling. I can remember when all Irish were treated as if they were members of the IRA. Being a Muslim does not equate to being a terrorist in the same way that being an Irish catholic did not equate to being a terrorist. In the US you are more likely to be killed by a toddler with a gun than a terrorist. Why are there terrorists anyway? Because people are treated badly. We in the west (primarily the US and the UK) interfered in the Middle East so no wonder the Muslims are cross.
9) I recently became a vegan after nearly thirty years of being a vegetarian. I believe passionately that being human does not give us precedence over the rest of the animal kingdom. Our ancestors, who were hunter gatherers, very rarely ate meat. Animals were free to roam the land and occasionally were killed for food. Farming changed that and most animals are treated like items made in factories. If you ever watch some of the videos out there you can see how badly animals are treated before and during slaughter. Cows, sheep, pigs and chickens are not stupid. They know what goes on. 50% of poultry kept for eggs are slaughtered at birth because they are male and won’t produce eggs. The females only have a slightly better life. Even on free range farms chickens are only kept for about two years and then sent for slaughter because their egg laying rate falls off. Poor dairy cows, impregnated every year. Their calves are taken away from them so that humans can use their milk, and when their milk yields fall they are sent to slaughter.