Brave new worlds

Who would have thought it? That a nerd like me could simply be a man ahead of his time? Twenty-five years ahead, embracing a diverse fraternity, while all around me treated that as suspect and improper.

A quarter of a century ago, my life could be made a misery by people who doubted my intentions for having particular friends from particular backgrounds. Back then it was quite acceptable to harass a young man based on who he took as friends, or to chase him away, or to threaten him with violence.

Happily, the same folk today are multiculturalists, embracing of all. Hallelujah! They too have now embraced their diverse fraternities. The ground has shifted beneath our feet. No longer is the one who is friends with all considered a strange aberration in the space-time continuum. This is the new normal, the default state. No longer is it the purview of the enlightened alone.

It is as if the 1990s were the beginning of history. I suppose, in our own lives, they were. We were just finding our feet then. Some found it harder to find their feet than others. Why the surprise? Some were raised amidst stifling cultures. Some had imbibed the inherited prejudices of the generations before them. Some were simply on the defensive, protecting their own.

All of that has changed now. Life experiences have changed us all. We have been buffeted by popular culture and political propaganda. We have lived through the war on terror in which we have all been forced to differentiate ourselves from the evil other. Many spent years paralysed, in suffocating relationships, finding themselves bullied and harassed by those supposed to be their closest and kindest.

It is no real surprise that when one way is found not to work, another way is explored in its place. Only experience has the power to really change us. Often the theoretical ideals we once held fast to are shown to be faulty once tested by reality. So it is that mankind moves. Who knows where we will be in another twenty-five years. For sure, we will all be surprised.

Twenty-five years ago, some were not ready for this brave new world. They looked back at those who had already embraced multiculturalism before them either with envy or suspicion. The envious knew they would have to wait another generation to join them. The suspicious had no idea what the future held. Only time could transport them.

Welcome to our brave new world.

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