This morning I woke up to read this wonderful news: Donald Trump has decided to withdraw from the Paris agreement. Of course he did. And although some argue this is “more symbol than substance”, it struck a chord of desperation in me.
Desperation at the thought of all that isn’t going right at the moment. At the thought of all that is going horribly wrong. The rise of nationalism throughout Europe, the politics of fear, Brexit, and of course, Trump. Trump, the terrifying clown, the vain, dumb, but powerful new face of America.
So upon reading that news, the 28-year-old strong, confident, optimistic young woman that I am just felt felt like a little girl, overwhelmed by the ominous world around. Because for the first time this year, I have felt the threat of war in our supposedly peaceful occidental countries was a real danger. Because the songs I was listening to when I was 10 —a whole adult ago— were already warning us against all of this. And on the big scale, things haven’t got better —far from it.
Of course there have been evolutions, in our consciousness, in our everyday behaviour, but it isn’t enough. There are still people (young people, too) who’d rather take a plane than a train to go anywhere, even quite close, just because “planes are cooler”. There are still people (nice people, too) who lower their voice to explain to me all the devious ways in which their (foreign) neighbour exploit the system, there are still people (immigrants, too), who think we shouldn’t welcome immigrants (!) because they will take away what we have.
These people are around, and they are numerous. Just because they don’t show up on your facebook feed doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
But I grew up on hope and optimism, so I can’t just sit down and cry. I can’t just give up. I want to have a great life —not an ok life, a GREAT life. I want to live in peace, I want to meet people of all horizons, all types, all ages. I want my kids to be trusting. I want to keep believing in people, in life, in dreams. So I beg you, dear 5 people who might have accidentally stumbled on this piece and bothered to read it through: HELP ME KEEP THE DISCUSSION GOING.
Keep (or start) talking to people with different backgrounds, with opposite opinions. Talk to people who hate politics, to people who support UKIP, the FN in France or similar parties. Talk to your local shopkeeper, to your annoying neighbours, to the lonely old woman who lives across the street. Talk to them. However stupid or ill-informed their opinions might sound, however hateful or annoying, just talk to them. Keep calm and talk. Don’t attack them —no one has ever changed their mind when told bluntly that their opinions were stupid. Just expose your opinion. So don’t try to convince (yet). Just talk, and keep the discussion alive. And eventually, these drops of knowledge, these drops of openness you and I will be sending to the world thus might add up and, slowly, change a few people’s opinions for the better. Then they might join us discussing with more bigots, who might then (in time, after lots of discussions with lots of different people) also change their mind, etc. etc.
That way —and that way only— we have a small chance at actually changing the world.
And if it doesn’t work, if we’re not fast enough, if climate change and wars get the better of us, well, at least we’ll have tried. And at least we and our children —and our parents, and our cousins, and our friends— will have lived an open, interested and intersting life.