As we head towards the end of another spectacularly difficult year, should we, in supposedly British fashion, Keep Calm and Carry On? Or is there a better way?
A friend recently told me her young daughter is so worried about the state of the world that she feels she can no longer just be a kid and have fun. Her daughter said: “And when I grow up I won’t be able to choose what I want to be because we’ll all be so busy dealing with climate change – which isn’t even our fault.”
For any of us who care about the future there is no denying that we’re living through what is for many the toughest of times.
In this past year, as the fog of Brexit and Covid began to lift, the devastation both have wrought on our economy and communities started coming into view. Then we were hit with war in Ukraine and a simultaneous energy and inflation crisis.
We are once again being urged to ‘pull together’, accept more crushing ‘austerity’ cuts and, as the cliché of choice for mug manufacturers suggests, “Keep Calm and Carry On”. But how calm should we be, and will carrying on with the way we’ve been doing things for decades really deal with the existential challenges we face?
Climate change is happening. It’s driven ever harder by an economy fixated with growing our capacity to produce and consume more and more stuff each year, and it’s being fuelled by exploitation – of our natural resources and of workers toiling to convert them into ‘consumable’ goods.
Inequality, poverty and destitution are also growing exponentially along with unimaginable levels of wealth and privilege for the few. We are on the brink of planetary and social collapse the like of which we have never witnessed.
If you can see this tidal wave coming, keeping going is mandatory. We have to put all our skills, strengths, hearts and souls into securing a future for our children and their children.
So the first half of my Christmas message is definitely to keep going.
Like lots of people, I (and that little girl’s mum at the start of this blog) have been striving for a different future for decades, and frankly many are exhausted by the struggle. The last years have stretched some to breaking point. So the second part of my message for 2023 and beyond is equally non-negotiable.
Keep up the revolution and ALSO have more fun!
A revolution is essential – in how we think and act as a society, how we build our economy, how we live our lives together as one human race on one precious planet. We can’t just carry on based on the charade that everything is ok. But we can and surely must, try to have more fun on the journey.
Let us keep looking up from the darkness. Let us gaze into the faces of those around us. Let us find every possible drop of joy we can in the one life we have. Let us help others on the journey with us to laugh, to dance, to soak up the sunshine and sing in the rain. We must commit to the fight AND commit to have more fun. This is not to diminish the pain of people who are suffering, but rather to celebrate life while we keep fighting for a better one for everyone. Let joy be the fuel we use to keep fighting.
So who is with me on my radical New Year’s resolution? Forget keeping calm – let’s make some noise and herald in 2023 in style by keeping up the revolution while having much more fun. We owe it to ourselves – and to my friend’s little girl.
Have a very HAPPY Christmas.
Liz Zeidler, Chief Executive at CTP