Fulfilling the Prophecies

Latest blog from Liz Longden:

The first time I remember having what might be called a political thought was when I was 17. Doing a sociology A-level, I found out about self-fulfilling prophecies. About how telling a child that they weren’t clever and sending them off to secondary modern immediately worked upon that child’s expectations of himself (or herself) so that they acted not clever, performed not clever, became in fact, not clever. About how children that this applied to were disproportionately from underprivileged homes, and how that became a pattern repeated down the generations. I remember thinking, ‘that’s not fair’, and I became a life-long left winger, but I think it’s absolutely true to say that it is only 5 or 6 years ago that I realised that just casting your vote, arguing in the pub, and singing choruses really loud at folk gigs, did not an activist make and changed NOTHING.

So a couple of years ago since I started talking to anybody around me who would listen about plastic and the pollution it caused. Since then the research findings about plastic pollution has got worse and worse. The bloody stuff is in just about every waterway, every sea, every ocean. We are breathing it, eating it, and drinking it. I know that many, many thousands of people around the world are working on the problem, but I look around me and see so many more others carrying on as before. Even new ways are becoming fashionable to get microplastic into our oceans. Glitter nails: really? Really?

Meanwhile, the latest news is that we are rapidly killing the insect population on which the entire planet depends. This rated only third place on the BBC news.

And all the while climate change thunders on. I watch the traffic going past my door. About one in six vehicles is a big 4 by 4, or an SUV. Mostly very shiny clean, never been near a farm track or an off-roading experience in their lives. A few days ago I spoke to a lady who was sitting in her 4×4 outside a school with her engine running. I knocked on the window and very politely asked her to turn off her engine. She said ‘WHY?’ ‘WHY?’

I see my friends posting from their holidays in lands far away, where they are having a wonderful time. Now I love my friends, but times have changed. We have got so used to the idea that we can have anything if we have the money to pay for it, but it is apparent now that that was never true. Well here’s the thing: I don’t want to see your posts from abroad, they scare and sadden me, and yes make me angry. I don’t want to lose any friends, and I know that I am far from perfect, but I do want to challenge you, with my heart in my mouth. I want to see how you are not going to fly this year, how you are doing your utmost to cut down your carbon footprint, how you are encouraging everybody you possibly can to do the same thing, how it is the first thing on your mind in the morning and the last at night.

The children that marched this week were motivated partly by anger, but also by fear. They are terrified of the future and we are letting them down. For me, trying to save the future comes before everything. Before personal experience and holidays of a life time, before your little bit of winter sun, and certainly before having baby sweetcorn and strawberries in February. We must accept that our lives have to change, fairly drastically, and if they become a little more limited then so be it. We have used up way over our fair share. We will still have more than enough for happy fulfilled lives, and perhaps, perhaps, so will our children.

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