In a few weeks I’m 50. And let me tell you it’s not ageing I regret. It’s the fact nothing’s changed. The world I shook my fist at three decades ago as an anarchist socialist feminist marxist radical environmentalist continues to revolve around violence, greed, exploitation, cruelty, injustice and murder. Apparently yelling at the system doesn’t have any effect, except to have you listed on a ‘persons of interest’ list. All that fist shaking, those drunken arguments about subverting the dominant paradigm, the years holding placards and screaming at ‘the man’, all for nought. ‘The man’ just put his feet up, probably on oppressed black people or some disenfranchised indigenous nation that he was currently using as his quarry and poured himself another beer. It’s a bit disappointing. We really should have done better.
When I was 20 I could blame my parents. They were shareholders in the big first-world whitey privilege pie. I could blame ‘old’ people because they were the global sociopaths who had us on this insane trajectory of climate armageddon. But now I’m 50, I’m one of them. I’m old people. I’m part of the generation that snuffed the planet. Certainly not with my coal mines, or my plastic plants. With my apathy. I didn’t have to bake it but I’ve had my share of the pie. Like most of the people I know, I’ve got fat rolls from too many serves of the privilege pie. But I’m becoming privilege-pie intolerant. I don’t know about you but I’m still not comfortable with the idea of having children in a world with no future.
At 50 I’m still a feminist for the same reasons I was a feminist 30 years ago. Women and children still die from male violence. Men die from male violence too. Men are so into the whole violence thing they made it an event and called it War. Apparently we are in our most ‘peaceful’ years on the planet, but well over a million people have died in conflicts in the last 10 years. This is what we call peace. Even more poor souls wander the globe as the world’s unwanted and displaced people. Eighty per cent of the world lives on less that $2.50 per day. We have lost 1.3 million square kilometres of forest since 1990. Every year there are between 200 and 2,000 species extinctions. In ten years’ time that could be us. These are the things we try not to think about when we blow out candles or wish each other happy new year. This year when I make my birthday wish, it’s not going to be for a new car or a botox budget, it’s going to be for a revolution. A gift for everyone. However, I’m not sure how you even have a revolution.
Obviously I don’t want violence, so you can forget the former models of system subversion. I want a nice revolution, where people suddenly decide to be fair and just. And polite. I think if you’re creating social unrest there’s no reason to be rude. Kindness can be powerful too. In the ‘nice’ revolution countries such as Australia open their borders to refugees, and billionaires distribute their wealth, corporations pay tax, indigenous people are given back their lands. And we do radical stuff such as grow our own food and not stockpile it in giant warehouses and refrigerated rooms while the rest of the world starves. I’d like a revolution where we don’t use plastic, and we have solar farms on every street, on every roof, and we feed the grid like a hungry orphan… free.
In the revolution we’d stop sending ships filled with coal through the Great Barrier Reef, stop cutting down forest for agriculture. In the revolution we’d get rid of party politics and just have individuals who give a shit. In the revolution we’d get rid of our economic system and we’d trade goodwill. We’d just have to make it through the looting years, where people who had too much would fear losing their stuff, and people with not much stuff would become obsessed with getting stuff. In the end they would realise that the making of, and getting of and fighting for stuff is what has us currently stuffed.
Anyway, just letting you know: if you’re in the mood for revolution, I’m ready. Just not today, I’m stuffed.