I don't know about you, but there times when I feel like I'm living in the past. I don't mean that there's a dearth of jet packs, Star Trek* style replicators and a general lack of cloned organs to provide safe transplants, but that we seem to have a serious hangover of issues from the last century that I honestly think we should have cleared up by now. Perhaps that's just because we're in a new century, albeit one that's only just getting over the Fin de Siecle bit and is cracking its knuckles to get down to business. The new century part does feel rather arbitrary and perhaps its unfair of me to assume things will be different because of a calendar.
And yet. And yet.
I look at issues like equal pay, which constantly seems to be bubbling up in the press, and it really steams my broccoli. The Equal Pay Act is about 40 years old, why are we still talking about this issue? Why hasn't it been fixed? For goodness sake, it's ridiculous that we still have this issue dragging out behind us like a stream of poo hanging off a fish. As a society we badly need to get this sorted, if only because it's unfair. In addition to that small but not insignificant fact, we only need to look at the number of Equal Pay claims going through tribunals to see how it's something that will only serve to further wreck the public sector as claims eat into finances needed to fund services at a local level. I've even seen cases where nursery nurses sue their employers because they aren't paid as much as grave diggers, suggesting we need to consider how we value work (something that anyone looking at the ridiculous amounts people in the City earn for what's essentially salaried 'guessing' will certainly find familiar). For goodness sake, it's embarrassing that we're still talking about this, or that we have a symbolic date from which women effectively work for free (9th November since you ask).
Gender seems to be the main area we're still struggling with, Look at how few women head up companies, or we still struggle to recruit women MPs. Consider we're still fighting over how much housework men do, and what even counts as housework. Perhaps its just human life but its deeply irritating, all the same. I can't help but feel that we should evolved beyond this state.
Or Goth, and Punk and all these wonderful expressions of identity that we see bubbling up about us. It feels as if we haven't moved on in our acceptance of the fact that some people don't want to be part of your mainstream dog and pony show. Despite the murder of Sophie Lancaster, which shocked most people we're still seeing these communities suffering from attacks and abuse from people outside them. Again, I can't help but feel as if we should have moved beyond this, have grown up enough to accept that not everybody wants the same things as we do.
Or the fact that we still have no effective sex education in our schools, despite the fact that all the evidence from Europe points to it only being a good thing. We're so stuck in a sex negative view of the world that anything that seems to challenge that is automatically seen in a bad way (and no advertising with scantily clad women isn't sex positive, it's just a way to sell things, exploiting everyone and assuming that we're all stupid). I would dearly love to see the evolution of a sex education system that focuses on relationships and pleasure, because to be honest that's why most of us have sex. Procreation is sort of a second priority unless you're desperate to sprog. So why not focus on the things that actually matter once the necessary biological bits are out of the way? Surely that only makes sense, since so many families seem reluctant to do anything to educate and support their children and most of us probably learnt more about sex from magazines and the internet?
In addition, while I appreciate the frisson that comes from the taboo, isn't it time we moved our views of sex forward, embracing the various odd practices humans get up to and treating them as normal? We're making a start with LGBTQQ things but there's still a long way to go (please note that I believe in Safe, Sane and Consensual and believe it should be taught in schools as a basic part of my dream RSE scheme and that education should be reaching out to all communities to bring on board their attitudes towards sex, to create a new curriculum that is holistic and doesn't shy away from anything because it might be a bit strange).
Surely this should have been fixed by now? We should have moved on, it seems like only a testament to our stupidity that we haven't.
The general state of environmentalism, or lack of it, really pees me off too. The recent Paris conference on climate change's quotas on temperature controls were blown out of the water within months and we face a serious threat not just from the physical fallout, in the form of desertification, rising sea levels and so on, but also from the human issues that will arise. It's natural that as the lands around the equator become hotter and less hospitable people will head north and south, which will lead to more immigration, more strain on resources, and more grumpy Daily Mail readers bitching about house prices. In other words, if you think things are bad now, you ain't seen nothing yet. Add to that the lying nature of companies like Volkswagen, who's engines were recently shown to be not nearly as eco friendly as they maintained and it's hard not conclude we're basically screwed as a species, and we're taking everyone else with us. Perhaps its just as well that in the Bible there aren't any commandments about green house gases or biological diversity, regardless of whether we interpret religions as true or just another way of saying 'we're special, us'.
Even if we poo poo the idea that what we do is significant enough to affect the planet, I can't help but feel that we should be looking at the effect climate change has on human health. Consider that in the UK it's believed that 29000 people died of illnesses related to air pollution last year. It's a staggering figure, one that is actually frightening and which will probably do nothing to address because we seem to have given up on anything other than 'nudge theory', which is practically useless because it's based on nothing more than a hope and a wish. Humans don't operate rationally, so putting things in place so that they have to act that way is counter-intuitive. What it does do of course is push more responsibility onto the shoulders of citizens (have you noticed that this choice agenda, and pushing things down to be our responsibilty seems to lead to more corruption higher up by the way? Its as if the powers that be want us to stop paying attention so they can do whatever they want). This may further our choice paralysis, but making it impossible to work out what's healthy and what isn't (and of course with councils selling off land the likelihood is that in a generation allotments will be rare, or nonexistent).
Let's also consider the fates of our fellow planet dwellers, the animals. I don't feel I can say too much about this, as I do eat meat and wear leather. But at the same time I'm appalled about the way we treat those creatures (I'm still trying to work out good ways to shift to a vegetarian diet, especially as Eve doesn't like most vegetables). We treat animals atrociously though, ignoring their need for habitat, hunting them for sport, not need, The problem with civilisation is that it doesn't take our primal instincts away, only renders them into sadistic pastimes. Scratch the civilised and you'll find their savage lurks not far from the surface.
I don't, sadly, expect these things to be sorted out any time soon, only to blunder on until we destroy the planet, become so dysfunctional we can't operate, and a feminist army goes all I Spit On Your Grave or forcibly sets up camps for unrepentant males.
Because I'm cheery like that.
*Though in all seriousness, can we stop making it now? And Star Wars. Please. Do we really have nothing new to offer?