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On Thursday with a spring in my step I cast my vote at my local polling station. At the time, I marvelled at what an amazing thing democracy is, thinking of all the bits of paper with crossed marked in the boxes across the country. I felt blessed that we live in a country where we can turn up and vote without threats of violence or intimidation. After work, I assembled with some friends to settle in for the long-haul of watching the night unfold. By the time morning came, we were heart-broken, shocked and teary. You see, like many others I had got excited and expected the results to be different at the last minute.It appears I should have listened to my better judgement but you have to stay hopeful.
While of course I wanted one particular party to win, I left the evening thinking that everyone lost. All governments need strong opposition not decapitated parties who will spend time looking inward for the foreseeable future, great MPs who have offered good opposition and years/decades of service to local constituents were voted out and surely that makes the House of Commons a worse place. I was humbled by the gracious and kind speeches that politicians of all colours made.
This weekend I have been feeling battered and bruised with a horrible cold and feel anxious about the future. I don’t want to live in a more unequal society with higher rates of homelessness, families depending on foodbanks and children turning up to school without having enough to eat.
I passionately want a society with free universal healthcare and a welfare state, fair wages and working practices and that believes in taxing the richest to help the poorest. That believes in human rights, social justice and equality and doesn’t pray on people’s fears. As one of my friends said on Facebook on Friday “Above all, the question about politics ought not to be ‘what’s in it for me’, but rather ‘what’s in it for those less lucky than me, and society as a whole?’”
And so, after wondering on Friday if I could live somewhere else I have decided that there is no place I’d rather be. I have always believed that you can’t just standby and watch things happen, you have to help make a society you want to live in.
1. Continuing to lobby my local MP and council about spending decisions they make and the support they offer local people.
2. Continue to belong to my trade union and strike when asked to support others faced with zero hours contracts and frozen pay.
3. Vote in future elections (obviously) and the EU referendum.
4. Find ways to support people who will be on the frontline of the cuts; this includes supporting my local foodbank, baking for Choir with No Name and supporting other homeless charities, supporting arts emergency, supporting Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid in the face of cuts, oppose Trident renewal through CND and continue to talk to people about why we need the Human Rights Act and good sex and relationships education in schools.
5. Finally, I agree with the above article that it is important to be kind throughout all of this.
“Finally, through all of this – be kind. Be so, so kind. Be kind to your comrades, who’ll get as tired and as angry as you. If you can, be kind to those you argue with, because compassion changes more minds than anger, even though it’s harder to muster. Be kind to the poor. The disabled. To immigrants. To workers. To anyone who’s a bit different. The government won’t be you see.” – Rebecca Winson
It may seem like darkness is all around but you have to dig deep to focus on the light. While I have spent the last 5 years helping young people build their resilience, this time I need to focus on my own. It maybe a long old fight but lets channel our inner Harry Potter and remember what he taught us. While at the moment, it feels like Death Eaters and Slytherin are winning but let us not forget that Gryffindor wins the day in the end.
Image from Etsy