It’s a Thursday afternoon in October and I am attending a ceremony at a local South Bristol Primary School to mark the occasion of a change to the name of the Academy Trust now responsible for the running of that school. As I sit listening, firstly to a group of children reciting a poem that they had written about a tree, and then to a line of children who each told us of their “hopes for the future” I, and I am sure all the others listening, could not help but be moved by the honesty and sincerity of all them as they spoke. And of course – it made me think!
Climate Change, Racial and Sexual Discrimination, go alongside Food Poverty, Mental Health, Homelessness and Bullying as some of the challenges that we are having to face up to in a society where still, in many cases, material possessions and holidays abroad mean “more”.
As Christmas falls upon us again what choices will we make as parents, grandparents or guardians on what is “important”? Do we really expect young children to understand that “Christmas” cannot be all be about the receiving of presents? How many of us still ask the same question every year – “What would you like for Christmas”, or “What is Father Christmas bringing you this year”. On Christmas Day many parents will once again be posting photos of their children against a huge mountain of gifts on the many social media platforms that currently exist. They do so “because they can”, and not surely because anyone else is a least bit interested! Again this year we will be reminded at some point that there are far too many children who will receive nothing from Father Christmas. There will be too many families, the young, the not so young, and the elderly – who will struggle to keep warm as the temperatures drop – and others who will just turn the notch up a bit on thermostat rather than put a jumper on. For many, a traditional Christmas lunch” is something that “others have”. For them it’s not about choice – for them, living in food poverty, is something they have grown accustomed to.
We are all guilty in part for the situation we find ourselves, but not for all of it. When I was child we had little in comparative terms – and yet we had everything.
As I sat listening to those children there was a realism for me that perhaps the choices we have made in the past may not necessarily have been the right ones. They seemed like it at the time – the replica football kit, the new mobile phone, the X-Box, the Games Station, but in doing so have we not added to a problem that is becoming ever more apparent, and that is – how do we manage the expectations of the generations that are following us?
It’s easy to demand change when you live in a world that others can only dream about. It’s easy to blame successive Governments for allowing us to get into this mess. But perhaps we should all take a good hard look at ourselves, consider the choices we have made and continue to make – and then ask ourselves this question
“Am I really doing enough to safeguard my children and my grandchildren’s future?”