This week I got a whole year older – I’m now 33! I know, I know – it’s not that old but it feels old. I’m solidly in my 30s, I own my own home (with a mortgage), I am married and have three kids. I’m old – at least by the standards of children.
For my birthday I got a new bike, a pair of dungarees and went to see Toy Story 4 and it was pointed out to me that perhaps instead of being 33, perhaps I’m actually 3. As funny as that idea is, there is something to that.
Every day when I read or listen to the news I hear nothing but terrible stories of politicians abusing their power, corporations ruining the planet and intolerant people spreading hatred. I feel scared, angry and hopeless as I try to think of ways that I can help to make things right. Is it any wonder then that I would seek things that make me feel safe, happy and inspired? When I wear dungarees I’m comfortable, I can get right down on the floor with the kids, I can easily access my boobs to feed Martha, I don’t have to worry about how my body looks and I am just more at ease. When I ride my bike I feel free, I feel young again and I can’t listen to the radio as I go. When I watch Toy Story I am reminded of when I saw the first one in the cinema, how it was the first time I heard people clap at the end of a film, I don’t have to worry about the world outside because I am completely immersed and I get to just laugh, like a kid for 100 minutes.
I started thinking though, perhaps there is a more sinister side to this. While I think it is perfectly ok to escape the realities of the world sometimes, it is important for us to stay tuned in. Bad things happen when good people look the other way. So maybe there is a reason for the over abundance of unicorn and mermaid themed things and the definite push of adverts for childish themed things towards adults. Maybe the powers that be are trying to distract us from what’s really going on. In the second world war, board games were made that were disparaging of Jewish people – it’s all fun and games until the realities of the atrocities of what the Nazis were actually doing became known. It wasn’t beyond the leaders to distract people then, it is definitely not beyond them now. How many times have we heard of terrible things happening and then a day later we’re no longer talking about it? We are constantly expected to move on, to react to the next ‘thing’, to forget what came before. Take Trump as an example, I am constantly finding myself saying ‘oh yeah – that happened’ when reminded of terrible things he’s already done. Things like saying he’d like to sleep with his daughter, that 4 congresswoman should ‘go home’, that Hilary Clinton is a ‘nasty woman’ and every other thing. So much is happening, so many terrible things that remembering them all, continuing to be outraged by them all is almost impossible so when we’re then bombarded by the new Marvel film, the final season of Game of Thrones and pretty, shiny, glittery things of course we don’t have time to do anything about the bad stuff.
I’m not for a second saying that we need to give up all the shiny things, but we do really need to ensure we’re keeping our eye on those people in power. They have proven time and again that they don’t deserve our undying trust so let’s not give it to them. Let’s continue to question them, continue to challenge them, continue to protest them even if it is on mermaid stationery while wearing a unicorn horn.