Oracy in lockdown…

Steve Wright

These are strange times we are living through. For most of us this extreme home isolation is unprecedented, and we have to find ways of coping with the stresses and strains of what at times feels like some kind of social experiment. These problems are often magnified by the impossibility for some to find a quiet space to themselves for a few hours.

In these dark days of fear, insecurity and misinformation, it’s more important than ever to search for and hold onto the light. That search is easier when undertaken collectively, by talking with other people. With the kids stuck at home, now is a good time to talk to them and discover the light they are searching for.

Talking is important. It defines our species. As far as we know, the universe has only one story to tell – The Story of Humanity. We alone in the known universe have the ability, the desire, the imperative to remember the past and to plan the future, and to share those plans and memories with others.

Talking with my teenage children about their hopes for the future, I find that they are acutely aware of the problems the pandemic has imposed on many millions of people and world economies, but that despite this, they have faith that the future will be better.

They believe that future governments will have to find permanent housing for the thousands of people currently in unsecure homes. They believe that climate change deniers will no longer be able to ignore the benefits that economic inactivity has brought to the planet, and that this will force industries to find new ways of doing business. They believe in the birth of a fairer society that values its key workers and carers more than disaster capitalists.

They seem determined to take the human story in a different direction, away from the darkness of inequality and injustice of the present, towards the light of a shared global humanity, where every voice matters.

I share the teenage dreams of my kids, but if I’m honest, I do not share their conviction that those dreams will soon materialise. Perhaps that just reflects the fact that I’m old and more than a little cynical. However, I am not so cynical that I don’t recognise that the human story will not change without the hopes and dreams of our children, and that as long as they share those hopes, there will always be a light for them to search for. We, as parents, as teachers, as adult influencers of any kind, should take more time to listen to our children, because with a little encouragement, their hopes and dreams may one day become a better future for all people.

The human story has come close to its final chapter many times before, and today it might feel closer than ever. The final chapter has yet to be written and there is still something to hope for – a light to find in the darkness. If we talk to them, if we listen to them, if we believe in them, our children can be the bearers of that light, and the human story can yet find its happy ever after.

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