Fifty Years Later

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.

Comments

  1. I hear you! But I am sure you do things in your daily life that effect positive change in your community, in the lives of those closest to you. Maybe we can't change the whole world but we can make the smaller world of those we love and care about better.

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    1. I'm not sure how the big problems will be addressed. Throughout my life, I have believed that education provides opportunity for some. But we are not all born with the same abilities or in the same circumstances. Perhaps doing our best in our family and community and supporting others through giving or volunteering is all we can do.

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  2. I'm doing lots of thinking these days, too. The world is a messy place. I have little influence in the grand scheme of things, but I can be the one who loves and serves in my own sphere of influence.

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    1. I believe that showing care and respect for all students can help to create adults who reflect those attitudes to others. Perhaps, it is a small seed that can grow to create a more inclusive society.

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  3. Bless you for your transparency here. As a child growing up in the South in the U.S. back in the 1950s and 60s, even though raised by gentle parents who never portrayed racism--no one I knew did--I still remember seeing the signs posted in stores and over water fountains and not questioning it until things changed in the early 60s. I had just started to work at a religious publishing company when the first sit-in took place at the drug store lunch counter where I often ate on my lunch break. Change happened slowly but who would have thought that 60 years later it sometimes seems as if little has changed at all, not when a black man cannot jog through his own mostly white neighborhood unless he takes along his small children to make him seem less threatening--one of the many stories I've heard recently.

    I share your confusion and sense of powerlessness but feel that this time change will surely come. I only hope it comes in a way that will draw us together instead of dividing us more.

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    1. We have obviously been unaware of the racism in our society. In church and in school,
      we try to teach acceptance. I can not imagine police entering my home with a "no knock" warrant and shooting me while doing a "wellness check." Change has occurred but it seems that the fear and danger that affects racialized people is very real.

      It seems that, as with the pandemic, there are those who deny the existence of racism.
      Until we can recognize it, it is a disease that won't be cured.

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