Sunday, 22 April 2018

An apology to the young. We have let them down.

It is, surely, part of the human condition for each generation to aim to leave the world in a better shape than they were born into. We want peace, prosperity, and joy for our children and grandchildren.

I was born not long after the War. There was still rationing. Times were tight. But it was also just after the birth of the NHS and the Welfare State. No longer would the poor and the sick need to struggle by themselves. National insurance payments would provide a safety net for everyone.

It was an idealistic response to the deprivation of the 1930s and then the horrors of War. But it was also built on a belief that we can, and should, create a world in which peace, mutual respect and care for the frail and vulnerable is possible without judgement. 

The 1960s built on that. We were the generation who could, and would, make it all happen.

But now I am ashamed of us.

My education was subsidised until I was 24. I emerged without debts, and a qualification that led to a job. I could save for the deposit on a house. I was healthy, and I was educated. Of course, there was still a long way to go - there was still hardship and deprivation. Racism was rife. But we had made a start and pressed on optimistically.

Thatcher did her best to scupper our efforts. Her cult of individualism bred selfishness that hasn’t helped. Blair made a start on turning that tide, and then wrecked it by invading Iraq. 

And from then on ... we have seen all we believed in and fought for eroded. Education is precious - and yet now only the wealthy can take it for granted. Those working in the NHS find their efforts to keep us healthy and care for the sick undermined by a government who can offer nothing but glib, meaningless statements. We had forged peaceful links with Europe, found a way to end the fighting in Ireland - and that’s all being dismantled. We recognised the scourge that is racism and have challenged it in every corner - but only an outcry in the press has made the government pause in its efforts to deport brown people. There is more poverty, more homelessness ... I could go on.

How can we look at our children and grandchildren in the eye? I hope they rise up in a rage and protest. We have let them down.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Trying again! I wrote a comment that just disappeared, so I hope this one works. I do agree with you, Jo. I watch what is happening in the UK with dismay. I am almost embarrassed by what I see these days. We were so fortunate to be young when we were.

  3. Thanks for your persistence, Val!

  4. Well said. I wasn't born here but I feel I have let down the Cuban youth, too. In my case, inaction.

    Greetings from London.

  5. I actually agree with nearly all you say, but would add a few caveats. I do wonder for instance how many in their teens, 20s and 30s would wish to return to earlier ways? Your kid would skip school or be bullied and the teachers would shrug, you might not have a bath or a phone or adequate heating, your doctor was patronising, women weren't allowed in most professional jobs, life in a factory or a coal mine made you ill or deaf and the wages were awful. My main concern is at how blatantly our politicians in government are now seeking to benefit themselves and their cronies at the expense of those who elected them, particularly the sick, young, and vulnerable. I'm sure this has always happened behind the scenes, but what is new is that the current crop of politicians scarcely bother to hide it, and their colleagues don't challenge them either but support them in the name of unity. THESE are the ones who are wrecking lives. I don't feel I personally have let the young down, I've tried hard not to - but we all have to make the best of where we happen to be, and if the young don't like the way things are they must fight to change the system, or make the best of it, as I suspect they have always done.

    1. I know life in the 60s etc was far from rosy, but I believed we could make it better. Which is probably why I feel so disenchanted by the blatant money-grabbing, power-manipulation that we see at the moment.

    2. I am entirely with you on that, I never questioned that life would and should be made better which I guess is why I am so astonished that this doesn't seem to be on the radar with politicians these days. They want to get votes by making people hate other people, apparently, rather than looking forward to a better life. It is saddening to think that this is what we have come to.