Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Let's Have Some Happy News!

Reading the news is always so depressing... recently we've seen stories on:
  • The old lady who left the government £520,000 to spend "as they see fit". (Was she CRAZY?) David and Nick called it a "party donation", split it between them, and were all set to spend it on champagne and cigars (probably). It was only when publicly chastised by Labour (and even Conservative) MPs that they handed it over so it could be spent on hospitals and schools and other such frivolities.
  • Oprah Winfrey getting the Pretty Woman treatment in a Swiss boutique. (Big mistake. Big. Huge.) So was the shop assistant racist or just rude? Either way it doesn't fill my heart with gladness. 
  • The judge who gave a paedophile a lenient sentence because the 13-year-old girl involved had been a "sexual predator". Is the whole justice system a gigantic paedophile ring? I ask because surely only someone who was a pervert could possibly think that a child was responsible for an adult's sexual crimes? Isn't that why we have statutory rape laws? 
"I am going to tell you something very strange: it was she who seduced me." Yeah, right. 

But things aren't all bad; when they're not trying to make adults have sex with them (!?) kids are actually doing some really awesome stuff.

Firstly there's Malala Yousafzai, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize after becoming a feminist icon in her teens. Last year she survived an assassination attempt from the Taliban, who got the heebie jeebies at the thought of a 15-year-old campaigning for girls' education. (This reminds me of Eileen Colwell's famous quote on Enid Blyton books: “What hope has a band of desperate men against four children?”) In the 21st century, who knew that such big bad men could be terrified at the idea of females being able to read and write?

Politically active kids isn't a new thing; back in 1992 Severn Suzuki addressed the UN regarding environmental issues: 

Actually, this one's a bit over the top for me, what with the mournful music and the "I know I'm just a child so aren't I precious for making a speech" feel of the video. Still, kudos to her for creating an eco-action group – at about the same time, I was going around the house turning off light switches and making draught excluders out of a pair of tights and some screwed up newspaper in my own efforts to be green. Today, 33-year old Severn Cullis-Suzuki is still known as an environmental activist and campaigner. 

More recently, this Egyptian kid went viral – nobody seems to know his name, but I'm pretty sure he has a bright future in politics. Call me a cynic, but I wonder if the interviewer was expecting such a young boy to have only vague, flimsy reasons for being at a protest (you know, the sort of answers we get when they ask some trustafarians in this country).

How about we get rid of newsreaders and get kids to explain everything instead? 11-year-old Yemeni girl Nada Al-Ahdal tackles the subject of forced marriages for children with eloquent self-possession:

They might be dealing with depressing subjects, but the fact that these children are so smart, articulate and vocal gives me hope. In the age of the internet, they can be heard in a way that would have been impossible otherwise. In fact, the internet  has become our "normal" so quickly that we've come to take it for granted: you only have to take a peep at whitewhine.com to see just how insanely privileged we are (and how entitled we've become because of it).

Seriously, how can anyone who has access to the internet ever consider themselves lacking in anything? Much as I hate to sound like a grandma, when I was a kid and I wanted to watch a film I had to go down to the video shop or wait for said film to come on the telly (so I could stealthily record it onto a VHS tape). If I wanted to look something up I had to find an encyclopedia (which was probably out of date). If I wanted to see a music video I had to wait for The Chart Show on a Saturday morning. When you're older than the internet it gives you a certain perspective on life, and it kind of scares me that stories of my youth will now sound as archaic as my parents' tales of playing 45s on the record player and using the cine-camera to make home movies. (Actually, we still used this when I was a kid; the smell of burning dust and the whirr of a projector takes me back to my childhood "Film nights" when we turned off all the lights and made popcorn and watched the silent movies. And yes, I realise this makes me sound ANCIENT.)

So let's just remind ourselves that everything in the world isn't miserable and hopeless, and there are some kids who have more to offer the world than atrocious spelling and the constant repetition of the word "legit". I leave you with the happiest news of all: there are sheep like this and there are people who record them and put the results on the internet for all to enjoy:

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