Belfast Telegraph

I’ve a horrible fear this will be remembered as the Chav Age

By Nuala Mckeever

In Canada recently I spent an afternoon in Ottawa's Museum of Civilisation. The exhibitions led us through the history of the country's physical and human development.

Outside in the world, London was burning, stock markets were crashing and people with very little to occupy their minds were speculating on who would enter the Big Brother house.

Inside the calm, quiet museum, progress was displayed floor by floor, case by case, piece by piece. I came away with a sense of the vastness of what was behind and beneath the place where I was walking.

I was filled up with the enormity of all the human race has gone through to arrive at this place and time.

We've had a lot of Ages — Stone, Iron, Bronze, Middle, Dark. We've had the Enlightenment and The Renaissance. And now we're here. What Age are we in now?

Perhaps, as with clothes fashion, we can only assess any period once it has passed.

Only the distance of time allows us to classify any era with certainty. I'm sure people in the Forties didn't say, “Oh that hat's so 1940s!”

But from the limited view point of here and now, it seems to me the period we're in could best be described as the Coming of Age.

With all our advances in technology and health and knowledge, we, in the West and other “developed” nations, have succeeded in having the means to look after the whole world and all its people, but not the will.

We are like teenagers who have suddenly found themselves alone for the weekend in the family home and whose sole desire is to indulge our pubescent fantasies of gorging on all the food, drink, drugs and sex we can manage, while our boring old parents are away.

Individually and collectively, human beings' lack of self-control or respect for others is quite surprising, given the wonderful opportunities we have to lead relatively easy, healthy lives, full of creativity and self-expression. We have it all but we still insist on behaving badly.

We destroy for no reason other than to satisfy our greed for more, more, more. We don't live in balance with our physical world.

We see everything around us, that's been there for millennia, as only there to serve us.

We expect all the fun and take none of the responsibility. We live as if it doesn't matter how we treat our home.

It's not ours so who cares if we mess it up? We don't own it. We can't control it. “They” control it, They'll fix it, it's Their job, not Ours.

But the partying is coming back to bite us on the backside now. We've run out of booze and there isn't any loo roll in the bathroom and who's going to get food for breakfast?

We've been treated like adults but we've behaved like children. It's now time to grow up.

Do we really want to be the bit in the history of civilisation exhibition where everything got wrecked?

Do we want to go down in history as the looters of the world?

Do we want this to be known, in time, as The Chav Age?

History, from a great distance, won't distinguish between us and the young rioters or us and the multinational business crooks.

We'll all be classified together. How do we want to be remembered?

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