Friday, 15 February 2013

Gratitude Day 15: Social Change

On the 5th February, the House of Commons voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill with an overwhelming majority of 400 to 175. While this isn't the end of the road and victory is by no means certain, this is still a landmark for equal rights in Britain.

On some level we may think this a no-brainer - well, of course, we're all equal, right? I strongly believe that to be true, but I also realise that this way of thinking is comparatively recent. Even just 100 years ago this kind of thinking was unheard of... just have a look at some of the great men of history and you will see that many of them were incredibly racist - Woodrow Wilson, who was behind the founding vision on the League of Nations and the UN was a strong proponent of segregation in his domestic policies. And don't even get me started on the way that Winston Churchill described the Indians and the Japanese.

How did we get to this point? because people, normal everyday people, kept chipping away at society, changing the way we speak, the way we act and the way we think. There are many things that are not deemed to be acceptable anymore that were once common and it's because of people who have found a voice and found support and gotten society to a tipping point. I'm not just talking about the Suffragettes or Silent Spring or other issues that were prominent decades ago. There are still incredible movements out there and with the advent of social media and other technology it is becoming easier and easier to spread new ideas. Look at movements like One Billion Rising and Men Against Violence which are aimed at stopping violence towards women; or various anti-bullying campaigns; or Time to Change and other movements to end mental health discrimination; or EDL - English Disco Lovers and BNP - Bass National Party, who are fighting racism in UK by taking back those letters so they no longer stand for racist organisations. Some of these are humourous, some of serious, some are specific people, some are nation-wide, but they are all launched by people who care, who have decided to make a stand for something that's important, something that they want to see change.

I'm very grateful to all those people who have made this world more comfortable for me to live in: who have fought for my right to vote, to own property, to be educated, to live where I want, to walk the streets without harassment, to be able to get help for medical or psychological problems, to get equal pay for equal work, to love and marry who I like regardless of their gender or skin colour, to be able to eat (or not eat) what I like,  to dance my way to a world where everyone is equal and everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their life goals as they see fit. All of us have things that we are passionate about, all of us can change the world if we wanted to, even if it is just a bit at a time. To all of you, I'm very grateful.

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