The seatbelt sign has disappeared and I’m pretending to work on my laptop as two metal trollies slowly work a stop-start pincer manoeuvre from the front and back towards my middle-of-the-plane seat.
The captain informed us earlier that it will only take forty-five minutes to fly from Dusseldorf to Zurich.
Eventually the trollies collide next to me and I am asked to choose my beverage. There’s only twenty-five minutes left before we land so I opt for tea.
She asks what type. I say normal. Blank look.
I elaborate, in my pigeon German; English breakfast, proper, normal, brown tea….bitte.
The young lady flicks through a rolodex of tea bags announcing them as she does. Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Green, White, Orange or Strawberry infusion, Camomile and so on.
I shake my head, repeat my order and receive the look of someone who’s just been asked for a skinny, vanilla latte with a side of salted edamame beans.
I take a glass of water and continue with my pretend working.
I would submit to you that not all progress is good progress.
Something’s were better left the way they were. I liked the world when the only choice of tea, outside of India and China, was brown tea. Aka, the kind I drink.
Now in saying this I fully accept that this lack of choice puts the minority groups who actually enjoy drinking a cup of hot water with a few lemon and bark flavoured twigs at a disadvantage. But such is life.
We don’t really need such choices, they serve no purpose other than to confuse, and slow things down.
We live in a world where we have come to expect that we get what we want, when we want it. Be it a ten kilometre high fruity infusion, instant Netflix, free pornography, retail therapy or amazon reordering our toilet roll.
So when things don’t happen the way we think they should we are becoming unequipped to deal with them.
The two seismic democratic results this year and specifically ‘our’ reactions to them are wonderful real world examples of something not happening in the way we believed they should have.
And what did we do?
We cried foul, we protested, we sought therapy, we stomped our feet, we rattled the bars of our respective cribs, we blamed Facebook and turned (and continue to turn) every legal stone to try to reverse what was a fair and unfettered democratic result.
Democracy, it would seem and to quote Churchill, is only the best worst form of government when it delivers a result along our accepted norms.
And both Brexit and Trump were anything but our accepted norms.
Don’t get me wrong I too was as bemused as the next person when I woke to discover the world had gone mad. I even started questioning the principle of universal suffrage. Can there not be a intelligence test or some other hurdle before they give out the right to vote?
I was shocked and surprised. Who on earth thought that Brexit was a good idea or that voting a misogynistic bully with stupid hair into the white house was wise?
Well, as it turns out, quite a lot of people.
I started realising that what I thought were the accepted norms of the world aren’t actually the accepted norms, they are my norms, not shared by what a democratic textbook would define as the majority.
Oddly the majority of the world care more about the prospect of a job and their ability to put food on their family’s table than the plight of immigrants or the right of some members of the LBGTQ community to pee in whichever toilet they choose.
This majority are apparently willing to look beyond the offensive or borderline illegal statements or whether the person is actually telling the truth if he or she can deliver something different to what has not been delivered for them in the last thirty years or so. They ignored the crap and focused on what will make a difference for them, not all Trump supporters support his views or are sexist xenophobes – they just believed he could deliver more than the next man, or woman as the case was.
My shock and surprise at both results lasted probably about a day or so and once I had worked out the how it happened to my own satisfaction I put all my toys back in my pram, and immediately cancelled my therapy sessions.
The majority of the world doesn’t exist in the same world as me nor most of the people I know. I haven’t met the majority. I don’t know them and I clearly don’t think like them. Politicians the world over don’t seem to understand them either and this is the most troubling aspect of this year, aside from David Bowie, Prince and Terry Wogan of course.
The leadership of the United Kingdom and the United States, regardless of political affiliation, got it very badly wrong. The rest of the world’s leaders are now sitting up and taking notice like a bunch of startled Meerkats.
They were so far out of touch with the bulk of the electorate that they allowed such catastrophes to occur. Yes I blame them, and now with the luxury of hindsight it doesn’t seem that surprising. I don’t agree with these results, but I can understand why they have occurred.
It seems for every big issue, be it terrorism, immigration or the economy, the majority would move right and the political class would move left, the chasm this created delivered us Brexit and now Trump. Merkel will probably be next and lets see what happens in France in the coming months.
So what to do now?
Well there’s not much to do really.
Protesting is something I do believe in. If enough people protest and raise an issue it will get done, politicians will only do what we tell them to, they value their jobs far more than what they have said they believe in, just listen to Paul Ryan now as a case in point. It’s been quite some time since a politician stuck to his or her beliefs regardless of the implications.
Protesting against a vote result is a wasted protest though, you might as well be protesting against the bad weather. Save your protests up for when you really need them, for the policy statements or the bad legislation or another war.
Rioting will help even less.
If you will allow here’s my advice. I suggest you accept that not everyone in the world has the same beliefs as you. Try to understand like I am that you are not always right and I know this is difficult. Try to understand that whatever that cause or issue you feel so strongly about might not hold the same weight with others. Lots of others.
You can call them what you want but there is more of them than you or me.
When Lenin stepped off that train in Petrograd 1917 after years of living in exile he promised ‘Peace, Bread and Land’ to the masses and it worked. A simple promise. Easy to understand and to rally behind.
This simple promise was never fulfilled but that’s a just being pedantic. The majority believed him, like the majority believe Trump or believed Farage, Gove and Johnson.
Promising something and delivering something is altogether different and if we could fast forward four years I bet you the post Brexit or Trump administration world is a very different one to the one they have painted for us. Where Brexit is concerned I hope not, with Trump, well that’s a different blog altogether.
It will be different though and when it is I certainly hope proper debate and discourse returns and is the only mechanism used to determine how we all move forward from that point.
Because regardless of the result, this ‘post truth’ world we appear to have landed in isn’t one I like. Nor do I approve of it or want it to continue.
It’s a bit like that cup of milky Earl Grey offered as a substitute to proper tea when you have no other choice.
Its weak, totally devoid of substance, it has a nice name but ultimately when all is said and done, it will deliver you nothing.