A holiday is supposed to be a time where you leave all your worries and your thoughts behind, for a few moments of bliss and relief from the burdens we all shoulder. The intention of my recent holiday was no different, yet it ended up being quite the thought provoking experience.
I had returned to the country of my birth, where I was born, bred and where I had always claimed that I would be buried once dead, with a mix of trepidation, excitement and hope. Things change, they always do, I expected my own land to be no different, it had changed in many ways, all good, but the change that I did not expect, was one within me.
For the first time In forever, I felt a stranger in my own land, hell, in the very estate I grew up in. The populous, the attitudes, the mannerisms, the idiosyncrasies were all there, yet I found myself despising and angered by the very things that had been commonly known to me throughout my growing up.
The estate and people had not changed, attitudes seemingly forged decades before my very existence still prevailed within the local populous, attitudes that at times I was severely tempted to erase from the populous with a well placed blow to the jaw, yet it confused me as to why, these attitudes, were not new to me, I had witnessed and grown up with them during my childhood, so what was so different now?
Part of my frustration was that despite the evolution of my own town, despite the economic and physical growth of my home town, the populous still remained in the very train of thought that was prevalent during my youth. I have always been aware that my nation was always a bit behind the times when it comes to certain things, I had hoped that we would have evolved as a people to be more accepting, to have a larger social conscience, and to be able to recognise that the ways of old are not always the best way.
The funny thing is, in many ways, evolution has taken place. People are now more accepting of things that they once mocked, to give a small example, homosexuality whilst I was growing up, was something reserved only for the perverted, something to be openly mocked, yet now there are Gay Pride parades every year, this might not seem like much, but considering where I come from, this is a huge progress from my point of view.
Yet whilst attitudes to homosexuality has developed, as has attitudes to race and racial acceptance, one attitude has not changed. For many years, people with disabilities in my country have been referred by a frankly disgusting term, “sub normal”. Now whilst this was in no way acceptable during the eighties, you could say, for a nation who’s attitudes have always been behind the times, it was perhaps easy to see how such a derogatory term could have developed.
The fact that this term still is in use today however, in this day and age, is no longer acceptable, that I found people close to me and those that were not, referring to people with disabilities, especially considering my child’s autism could be classified as one, at least in my own town, as “sub normal” was a source of irritation for me.
The strange thing is, that as a country, we have grown leaps and bounds in terms of how we treat disabled people and the rights afforded to them, they have equal rights to any citizen of my nation (and as it should damn well be), there are plenty of events that are held by charities and the local government themselves, that show that, and I know that there are plenty of people who work tirelessly, often out of their own free time and expense, to make things as much of an utopia as is possible.
It is the attitude of the general populous however that has not changed, that in 2015, people still find the term “sub normal” socially acceptable to use is frankly downright disgusting and in my opinion, anyone who uses that term should be overridden by a sense of shame and disgust with themselves.
Despite all this, I still hold some hope to one day in the future, return home and make my life there, and to take an active role in the local community, something that unfortunately I have not done in almost two decades. Change starts from within, and that is something I hope to contribute to in the future, but for now it seems, I remain a stranger in my own land, a shadow, trapped between what I once was, and what I wish to be.
My nation has given me a sense of pride over the years, and has contributed greatly to my own sense of identity. My two greatest influences in my life, are both products of my nation and its populous, as well as its moral sense, so It seems I am at odds with my own upbringing at times. Yet I cannot be more proud of my own upbringing and cannot be more proud about my two greatest influences.
However until things change within the general populous, in terms of attitudes and terminology, and until the populous evolves and changes with the ever continual growth that is currently taking place within my nation, as much as it pains me, I think I will remain a stranger in my own land.