Sunday, May 19, 2024

With the United States and United Kingdom dealing with the social and political dysfunctions of the 21st century and the implications of that dysfunction plunging both toward fascism and violence, it’s important to remember a symbol of genuine kindness that for almost 20 years tied both countries and the world together: Diana, Princess of Wales.

Lady Diana Spencer, born July 1, 1961, and married to Prince Charles of the British royal family in 1981, became a fashion symbol and pop culture icon – but most importantly a humanitarian of genuine compassion and kindness in a world filled with hatred and violence.

Like any human, she was flawed, but she believed in a world that could be better than itself, devoid of greed, isolation and despair.

Her numerous charities and work with the most vulnerable and forgotten in our society, such as the homeless, persons with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS and the poor, proves that she was committed to a just world, not one that throws people away at their most vulnerable.

Her liberal attitude toward these groups while fighting her own struggles – including a failing marriage to Prince Charles and inability to conform to the rigid and conservative system of the institution of the monarchy – never stopped her from truly caring about people.

Her death at 4 a.m. Aug. 31, 1997, in Paris after a horrific accident in which she lost her partner and driver, plunged the world into shock and paralyzed the British public; it has never truly recovered. The British public saw in Diana something they didn’t see in any other person, not even Queen Elizabeth – a Britain that could be a inclusive, open and modern for all, a Britain that actually cared for its citizens, a Britain that could move away from its imperialist past. With the death, those hopes seem to have been lost.

Twenty-five years since her death, the world has not gotten better, despite commercials and campaigns claiming tolerance and acceptance. The poor are getting poorer, racism and white supremacy in the political world are back in vogue worldwide, and greed seems to rule the day. The world Diana left at the young age of 36 years old hasn’t changed as much as we would like to believe, and we have not learned the moral lessons she would have liked to be remembered for by the many people who never knew her but adored her.

As we arrive at this somber 25th anniversary, it’s time to remember Diana by trying to do better, trying to be kinder and more respectful to each other, learning to tolerate one another and truly help each other in times of need – not aiming for perfection, as no one is perfect, but trying our absolute best to be better toward fellow humans. The world is a very uncertain and dangerous place, and unfortunately for us there is no icon like Diana to turn to anymore. Remembering the principles she left behind is the only noble way to honor and remember her. That is her true legacy.

Rest in peace, Princess Diana Spencer.

Douglas Ross, Huron Avenue