My Life After The World Has Turned Right

Hungary and Poland voted out of disillusion. The UK voted out of fear. What made you cast your vote, America?

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I come from a country deeply affected by racial and religious hatred, violence, and poverty. Although I have been lucky not to experience war firsthand, the same cannot be said for the generation of my parents, and grandparents.

I don’t remember the aftermath of the tragic events that shook my country. I remember that the ration stamps were taken out of circulation when I was three, and that a few years later my mother and I were able to obtain passports.

Yet not so long ago my grandparents had faced persecution, concentration camps, and soldiers’ guns pointed at their heads. My parents had lived in a country fully controlled by a foreign superpower. Oppositionists were detained, or disappeared without trace.

You can’t quite erase decades of fear and austerity, and even us Millennials were weaned on it. But for my generation things were always looking up.

I don’t remember it being announced that Poland would become a member of the European Union. What I remember is standing up at school, among other children dressed in white shirts, and singing Ode to Joy. Many saw this moment as Poland returning to free Europe, and as an equal to the countries that we were looking up to.

In my lifetime, in front of my eyes, I saw the spread of liberal ideals. Western prosperity has spilled eastwards. I could live my life in peace. Hell, I could go on a gap year.  After graduation, I could choose to move abroad.

The world, my world, seemed to be going in the right direction. Racial and religious tolerance. Feminism. Open borders. Free market economy. We even started paying more attention to climate change.

But then something went wrong.

Hungary was first. It was truly shocking to see the advent of Viktor Orban’s national-conservative government. Nobody believed the same could happen in Poland, and yet it did, as the Law and Justice Party took over. Then Brexit. Let’s admit it, we all laughed at Brexit. Until it happened. We all laughed at Donald Trump too.

On the morning after the US elections the world was not the same any more. Fear and hatred, which started dividing Europe, triumphed among the most powerful nation on the planet. US has the highest GDP in the world. The highest military strength index. The second highest carbon footprint.  

For the first time in my life I fear for the future. No, Donald Trump’s policies will not directly affect me, but the world’s political and ideological climate will. Will we start closing borders? Dividing people by race and religion? Openly tolerating sexual abuse?

I fear as an immigrant. I fear as a woman. I fear as a human being.

For my whole life, my world was moving away from hatred, destruction, and conflict. Now it’s changed its direction. For me, as for many, fear has replaced hope. But contrary to what many say, fear is not always a bad thing. It can be a great motivator. If you realise the imminence of the catastrophe, you get up and fight.

So, if it’s not too late, how will we all fight this?

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4 thoughts on “My Life After The World Has Turned Right

  1. Hi Zofia!

    I’m Jamie, an equipment engineer working in the semiconductor industry and living in Oregon. In my 51 years love living on both coasts and throughout the United States, I have seen many exchanges of power in Washington DC. I read your blog and understand your concerns. Please alliw me to provide the same advice I have given my own children in the last couple days.

    Even though our leadership has changed it does not mean our beliefs have changed nor has our commitment to the causes we hold dear. Now is the time to respect the office, not the person sitting in the driver’s seat. When they do or say things we agree with and we should support them 100%. When they do or say things that are not agreeable then we should let them know and and up for what we believe is correct. Stand up for what you believe in, be the champion of your own causes, be strong and steadfast.

    In the meantime, please try to understand that change is good even though it is not always the change we would prefer. This is the 45th change of power and the United States has been around for 241 years. We are not the first people to feel this way and won’t be the last. Everything is going to be ok, I’m sure of it. Stay positive keep climbing!

    1. Hi Jamie,

      It’s very reassuring to know that there are people like you out there, who simply respect other people.

      I admire your optimism, and I do believe we need it, but I myself struggle to feel so positive. What probably doesn’t transpire from my post is that however negative I may feel, I have every intention to display an attitude of dialog, understanding, and action. I’m not giving up, neither in terms of my faith in humanity, nor in terms of advocacy for the causes I believe in.

      Actually, your comment brought a smile to my face, and a warm feeling to my heart. (Wow, soppy me!) So, thank you so, so much! 🙂

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