2016 was the year that made me question my belief in the goodness of people.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware people can be the worst. As individuals and as groups we can do some truly horrific things. But I’ve always believed that as a whole in the grand balance of things humanity has the intentions of being good.
For me this belief stems from the innate desire of creation that people possess. This creativity is our greatest strength, whether it be to see a problem and need to come up with a way to fix it; to want to create art or song or stories that serve no other purpose than to entertain; or to just build the tallest tower of Lego bricks you possibly can. That stems from something deep inside us, creativity isn’t taught, it can be embraced and nurtured or suppressed and ignored, but it is always there. And for me I equate this need to make with goodness,the desire to improve ones situation and the curiosity to just see what will happen.
Also I’m incredibly naive and idealistic and glass half-full. Too much so.
But 2016 was the year that made me question that because when presented with two decisions people came together as a mass and got it wrong. It least according to me and my hopeful liberal little world.
There was no way the UK would vote to leave the EU, why would you, no one I knew was voting that way. Coming from New Zealand where there is no one else around to build a community like this, why would you vote to leave it. The critical mass of it gave you power and the ability to move freely through all those centres of amazing cultures is one of the worlds great privileges. But the populous embraced the dark side, voted out of fear of the other, rejected the experts they didn’t have time for, said no to the people from other cultures they work and live next to everyday.
As baffling and outside the world I live in this decision was, I can understand how if you were downtrodden, unemployed, barely surviving it would be easy to be sucked into the rhetoric. To blame the big bad EU for all your woes and see hope that things would be better if you got out. Trump however is a different story.
That was the news I woke up to that physically made me hurt. Yes I could understand how certain parts of society would be sucked into the promises he spun, just like they were in the UK. But enough people to get him elected? This was inconceivable.
To me there was a choice between someone who had spent their entire life in public service, who has experience and dignity, not perfect but clearly the better option against someone who had never held public office, whose pitch relied on fear and racism and sexism and crudeness. It was fascinating to watch this man and the circus around him, but there was no way he would win, people were good, they would reject the values he was presenting.
When he wasn’t laughed off the stage when he was embraced by a huge part of the land of the free, it crushed me. To wake up to a notification on your phone saying President-elect Trump was numbing. I couldn’t help but think how if you were the parent of little girls and spent their entire life telling them you could do anything and to go into that night thinking this would be the night for them to witness that it was not just words but the real world that had been build for them. It was your chance to show them that if you work hard and not buckle under setbacks and if you are the best person for the job, it will be yours. To sit there on that night and see that story of hope and of equality crushed not by a man who was more qualified but by Trump, someone who represents the world that has held people back for so long, be deemed the best person in the eyes of the masses, that would break me It makes you question whether the world you thought you lived ever really existed, or was just the hopes of a dreamer.
But we are two months on from that night, a few weeks away from its results coming into formal power. I’ve recovered slightly, still horrified at the result, but my optimism has returned. I have the morbid curiosity to see what will happen but also the belief that people wont let the world descend into madness, we will go through hard times but we will keep on. People will continue to create, to do the amazing in the face of fear as we work to making a better tomorrow.
*This blog entry is terrible, its says nothing that people more eloquent than I haven’t already said and is all hopes and dreams. Urgh. But oh well.*
Bewildered (more so than ever) Observer