I am a 20 year old student from the UK. Like the vast majority of people my age, I am a firm believer in social equality, in rights and respect for all faiths, nationalities, genders, sexualities and races. Like the vast majority of my friends and peer group, I woke up on Wednesday morning with a deep panging sense of sadness. The result of the presidential election left me truly heart-broken. Once again the politics of division, hatred, ignorance and fear had triumphed.
This year we have seen, time and again, ordinary people be sold blatant and unforgivable LIES. The LIE that immigrants are the cause of their problems. The LIE that the billionaires and media moguls are ‘men of the people’ and progressive, educated, intelligent people who don’t hate foreigners are somehow the ‘elite’. The LIE that women are inferior to men. The LIE that muslims are our enemies. The LIE that cold hard facts and expert opinion can be simply ignored. We live in a world, where a man who insults muslims, refugees, immigrants, disabled people, the concept of democracy, the rule of law and the idea of a free press and who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and actively advocates the sexual assault of women can be elected president of the United States. A man who can convince millions of people living in the richest country in the history of the human race that things could hardly be worse for them. For those of us fortunate enough to have grown up in a safe and comfortable upbringing, and who have always thought that progressive values were winning, this is a massive blow. But it is also a wake up call.
We mock the idea of ‘social justice warriors’ and take the piss out of political correctness, but in the back of our minds we have always had the comforting belief that social equality was slowly improving. That racism, homophobia, xenophobia, religious intolerance and sexism were being fought, and that progress was being made. This year we have to realise that this is not the case. The socially liberal argument IS NOT winning. If you believe in any progressive values, if you are in any way upset or outraged by the results of this year, then this has got to be your wake up call. No longer can we passively and complacently assume that ‘things will just get better’. We have got to FIGHT the progressive cause wherever and whenever we can. We have to FIGHT for equality, for the rights of all races, genders, sexualities, religious faiths and nationalities. We have to FIGHT prejudice, ignorance and intolerance. We have to FIGHT the lies peddled by the Trumps and Farages of this world. We have to FIGHT to make our world a better place and to continue the improvement we have seen over the past 50 years. Our generation has the power to do this, but now we must realise that we have to actively pursue it.
There is no denying it, Wednesday 9th of November was a very dark day, and there will be more to come. But if nothing else, let this be the spark that inspires our generation to actually fight for what we believe in. No longer can we sit back and allow division and hatred to creep into the mainstream. We must sit up and take notice, and fight for our values whenever and wherever we can. Call out prejudice when you see it. Stand up to bullies, racists and mysoginists whenever you get the chance. Tell them they are wrong. Explain to them why their views are harmful. Use your influence to spread truth, facts and persuasive, progressive opinions. You are more powerful than you realise. Together, we can overcome this ugly and hateful trend, but it has to start NOW.
A note from the editor:
Joe posted this originally on his facebook and a family member shared it on Twitter. One of the goals of #NoDust is to provide a platform for young people engaging with the dynamics of the political landscape. Please share this and encourage the young people in your lives to create posters, videos, podcasts, posts that express their views.
See also: An 18 year old sees an 80 year regression, a 2-min read by Sam Hickmott.
We have a rare opportunity to keep the conversation open and energetic. Don’t let the dust settle.