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Molly Saxby: A Feeling of Change in 2020: A Potential Revolution?

Without doubt, 2020 has been a testing and surprising year so far. Markedly, the Coronavirus pandemic has taken the world by storm, turning our typical, everyday lives upside down. The pandemic, whilst devastatingly costly to human life, has seen the world unified by a cause for the first time in my lifetime. This is because, whilst it has been politicised and dealt with differently across nations, the pandemic has reified a notion that is often lost in our modern world: one which reminds humans of their fragility and destructibility, as a species. The pandemic halted many aspects of life as we know it, removing powers and freedoms we have come to know as normal and expected, and has taught us many things: community, perseverance, patience; shifting mindsets globally to remind us of our relative powerlessness, despite our dominance on this planet. 

It seems, alike many times in history, this shift in our status quo, the removal of normality, has coincided with momentum for greater change. It is with great shifts, such as wars, economic crashes, and political changes, that revolution is often born. In 2020 however, this desire for new systems and changes, a mood for revolution so to speak, has grown alongside the pandemic. In recent months, the Black Lives Matter movement swept the western world following the murder of George Floyd. The movement, most prominent in the USA, but resilient across the world over, demands equality of life, opportunity, rights, and freedoms for black people. This movement, with its countless examples of injustice, murder, and discrimination demands true equality and justice. 

BLM has reminded us of the presence of institutionalised racism, racism within ourselves, within our societies and in the foundations of the world’s workings. This movement, whilst fighting for specific results, also fights a long-term goal for true equality, for the reconstruction of the barriers against black people which are inherently built and maintained by the world we live in. Alongside BLM, in 2020 movements have grown across the world and have seen people fight for their liberties and freedoms with persistence and integrity. Amongst these have been the Hong Kong protests, beginning towards the start of the year and continuing even now, fighting for the protection of democratic politics, separate from the over-bearing influence of the Chinese government. Also, notable have been the Chilean protests which rose against increased costs of living, including subway fares, as well as privatisation and inequality in Chile. These protests, from 2019 to 2020 have seen over one million citizens demand change and the resignation of President Piñera. Movements such as those mentioned are not necessarily a rarity in modern times as people often turn to civil disobedience and riots as method for change. However, it is without doubt, that movements such as these, seen in combination with the pandemic, have raised feelings and demands for change, provoking attention towards the potential for ‘revolution’.

This requires us to unimagine the idea that past revolutions have been led by conscious revolutionaries and instead asks us to remind ourselves of the world’s revolutionary past. Such moments of change, of political, social, and economic upheaval have often been led by grassroots social actors who came together from separate strands to fight for a common cause of change. As mentioned, it is in times of uncertainty and upheaval that these movements have been born and seen the greatest success. Without doubt, we are living in a time which provides great opportunity for revolution. The pandemic has uprooted normality, bringing into question everything we have accepted as a part of everyday life. If we think deeply enough, here we can see a potential for great change, a climate where many things previously thought of as impossible, have the potential to become possible. We have seen the rejection of injustice, the protection of freedoms and rights, importantly led with passion, resilience, and fervour. Arguably, this resistance and its demands suggest that the world cannot continue to function as it does for much longer. 

Younger generations are becoming more conscious, of our planet, its institutions, and its evils; they possess a passion I have seen so many times even in my own circles, which demands a better life, for everyone, for ourselves and for our futures. The world must adjust and redesign itself, as it has done so many times, to meet the demands and mentalities of its inhabitants. Whilst the future is unwritten, the potential for revolution is present and undeniable. Revolution here does not necessarily reflect our typical understandings of the term, but implies the favour of a new system, on many scales, with a multitude of demands and of different levels worldwide. I, therefore, encourage you to think about your opinions, the changes you would like to see in the world, whether they correlate to a pre-existing movement or if they demand something else. There is a great potential for change, something we should welcome as part of the progress of society, and something I encourage you to participate in to shape the world in which you live.

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