|in the amphitheatre of the Sorbonne 8 years ago|
It is 50 years since I graduated from high school. The world was a very different place in 1970 from what it is now. Although I was a reader and a dreamer, my experiences were limited. As the child of a 2-parent, White British family of middle income, living in a pink split-level house in a rural suburb, I was probably a product of my time.
Travel meant a trip to Disneyland in the small family trailer. Education was still basically concerned with copying the teacher's notes from the chalkboard and regurgitating them in some form on an exam. There were very few opportunities to question the foundation and the ideals on which my family life was based.
When I attended University, I enrolled in The New Arts One Programme, a multidisciplinary (English, History, Philosophy) programme that examined classical and alternative texts. The year's theme for my cohort was The Individual and Society. On my first day at University, we watched Marat/Sade, the film version of a play based on a reenactment of the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat. One of the themes of Marat/Sade is whether effective societal change comes through revolution or through personal change. The texts we studied in Arts One posed the questions but 50 years later, I still don't have the answers.
Fifty years later, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought out the inequities of race and the failure of market economies to provide for service workers and for the elderly. These conditions seem to exist in every country of the world. I am reading and trying to understand what the roles and responsibilities of individuals are to effect change. I'm no longer 18 but I feel just as confused and powerless.