Sunday, 20 December 2009

Chilly Times

We're snowed in, cut off from the rest of the world… Well, in our case, that’s not literally true, more that the entire household has been struck down by the flu. And because everyone’s feeling ill, none of us is really in a position to enjoy being (almost) snowed in. The snow is perfect in the back garden. There's hardly any traffic on the road outside, even though the gritters have been along, and it's beautifully quiet and peaceful. A totally different world. I'm longing to take a walk through the snow, maybe across to the park but with two little ones that refuse to get out from under their blankets on the settee, I have to content myself with looking out the window.

I hadn't really thought too much about the change to a more sombre mood when I started my second stint as blogger at the beginning of December, but yes, as others have so eloquently described it the last couple of weeks, the trend is there. My first week as blog writer was in the autumn, when all the leaves were glorious and the season was inescapably full of the mists and mellow fruitfulness Keats was so taken by. Now the trees are bare, it's icily cold and it feels like the sap has frozen in more than just the trees!

Copenhagen has been hard to watch. The hopes that have dissipated, the feeling that even if there is such a thing as "natural justice" it doesn't mean that it comes naturally to us. I haven't had the chance yet to really understand what it means, and what it doesn't, though the pundits are already picking it over.

It can be depressing to think about. But, I also remember Kyoto and how that looked like it was going to be the beginnings of something marvellous... With hindsight it now looks like something very very different. So perhaps it's better to at least know at the beginning what the next steps from Copenhagen may look like. And if you think of so many of the great social movements in history – from the peasants’ revolts to suffragism, from the trade unions to the birth of the labour and anti-Apartheid movements – none of these started from a good place, and all of them changed the world.

Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year – the winter solstice – from Tuesday onwards, the days will get longer, the nights shorter. The changing seasons mirror the changes in ourselves, and the cold and dark December days allow us to reflect and plan for the new spring. So whatever happened in Copenhagen doesn’t mean the problem is too great and that we have no choice but to give up. It means the opposite, we have to try harder.

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