Before we all retreat to a darkened room or start popping valium however, let’s consider how real our fears actually are. There have been lots of political changes this year what with Brexit and now Donald Trump. Changes, that according to lots of people mark the start of our decline into something unimaginably dark but haven’t we been here before? I for one can remember dark times in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher took us to war, whilst decimating industry and plunging millions into mass unemployment. We don’t really know what impact Brexit or Trump are going to have yet but whatever happens we’ve survived tough times before and so surely we can do it again.
For obvious reasons, war and terrorism are another source of fear and worry. We are bombarded with pictures of war torn Syria every day. Clearly we need to be reminded of what’s happening in the world but rather than fretting and feeling depressed, would it not be better to try and do something about it? How many people wringing their hands in sadness actually support charities such as The Red Cross, Save the Children or Oxfam who are on the front line trying to help? As a person who is prone to anxiety I know how being proactive can help us feel empowered in times of uncertainty.
As we all know, technology has made the world a smaller place and brought the drama of international tensions into our living rooms like never before. The problem with this is bad news is big business and so that’s all the media likes to focus on. We all get our daily fix of fear but what about the positive stories that are being played out the world over with hardly a mention? Does this imbalance of reporting lead to a disproportionate level of anxiety in response?
For young people one of the biggest courses of concern is reported to be terrorist attacks and we behave as though this is a new phenomenon. Without a doubt we need to be aware of what’s going on around us when we’re in highly populated areas like airports or busy train stations but again, haven’t we seen it all before with the IRA in the 80s? I remember all the posters warning us to watch out for suspicious looking bags and when London was like a ghost town following a spate of terrorism alerts. I’m in no way trying to diminish the seriousness of terrorism but simply trying to highlight that they are nothing new. We have lived through these times before.
I worry that if we all become entrenched in fear and worry, anticipating the fall of civilisation as we know it, we may inadvertently hasten its arrival. Fear often leads us to demonise the unknown, be that people, places or ideas. I vividly remember being terrified in the 80s when everyone was convinced the Russians were going to kill us all. I’ve never been a massive fan of Sting but hearing his song Russians where he hoped that “Russians love their children too” was a massive wake up call for me in understanding that even though it might sometimes seem as if we’re on opposite sides of the fence we’re all connected as human beings none the less.
Call me Pollyanna if you like but I’m not wasting my energy worrying about world affairs because I don’t think things are as hopeless as we fear. Most people are kind and decent and the more we get to know each other on a human level the more we realise we’re all the same. So stop fretting and start acting. You could join an anti-war campaign group, support charities that help people in war-torn countries or, if you want to be more hands on why not volunteer at your local food bank or charity shop. I promise you once you start playing your part in counteracting the poison of characters like Nigel Farage and Donald Trump, you’ll feel a whole lot better about the world.