A little bit of a political post!
2016 – my goodness this year will be going down in history with three big black letters next to it – W.T.F.?!! It started off badly when Bowie died in January, an event which set the tone for the coming months. Celebrity death after death followed (Prince being the most shocking one for me), and it seemed like there was a never ending stream of bad news.
We then had to endure weeks and weeks of pre EU referendum campaigning before the final body blow came on June 23rd. What a day that was. I admit I got so caught up in it all. I could not believe some of the hateful, ignorant and revolting comments I was reading online daily. I had so many arguments with strangers, and it also brought a few racists out of the closet on my friends list on Facebook, a few of whom were a complete shock (if you want to weed them out, have a look at the vile ‘Britain First’ page on there and it will tell you which of your friends ‘likes’ it). And now we are faced with 4 years of President Trump. Bloody hell, it’s enough to make me want to hide under my duvet and never come out.
Prior to this year I had never really given my political stance a thought. Anything to do with politics just bored me to tears, I had absolutely no interest in it whatsoever because it wasn’t affecting me. In fact, this was the first year I ever voted – once in the general election in May (Labour), and then in the EU referendum (Remain).
Again, becoming a mother has influenced these decisions…I care deeply about the world my daughter will be growing up in. It was during that time that I realised that I am very much ‘left-wing’ (I actually had to look that term up, that’s how little I knew). A full blown liberal. If you’re wondering which way you lean on the political spectrum, you can take a test here.
It made sense actually as being a leftie completely fits with my personality. I am an empath, hate confrontation (well, most of the time), will always look for the best in people and try to help in any way I can. I truly believe in equal rights for everyone & distribution of wealth. I am also the most non-materialistic person you will ever meet. I hate what money can do to people. I would be absolutely awful as a manager, and even watching The Apprentice scares me a bit.
This year has not been a good one for us lefties. The maelstrom of hatred from right wingers has been relentless. We were called sore losers over Brexit and told to ‘get over it’, even though our concerns were completely justified. I am nowhere near clued up enough on economics/trade deals/stock markets to comment (not even the ‘experts’ have any idea really), and in all fairness my worries about Brexit were not necessarily about those issues, they were about people’s attitudes.
Fuelled by the absolutely abhorrent Farage and Johnson who basically lied their asses off to get what they wanted, the public were whipped up into a frenzy, especially over the immigration issue. A huge divide was beginning to show, with the bomb effectively going off on the morning of 23rd June.
An explosion of hate
As we have seen, my worries were right…hate crime surged after the vote, and still remains at significantly higer levels. Every disgusting racist in Britain suddenly felt that their views were legitimised and that they had a green light to spout their vitriolic bullshit and abuse people.
The same thing is now happening in America. The reports I read online during that time, and since, have had me in tears: a Muslim woman and her children being chased down the street and told to ‘f**k off back to where you came from, we voted out’; an Asian doctor being spat at in the street; shops being petrol bombed; and repulsive hate-filled leaflets being pushed through the letter boxes of Polish families’ homes.
The comments I was reading online were even worse (Facebook especially was horrendous), the most vile being grown adults actually gloating and laughing about that poor little Syrian Todd who died and was washed up on the beach. My God, whatever happened to humanity? What if that was their child? Why is their life more important than anyone else’s, just because they happen to have been born in the UK? Surely you don’t have to be a leftie to feel upset over a dead child?
Social media meltdown
All I could think about after seeing the image of that little boy was my daughter, who was about the same age at the time. Any mum will tell you that your emotions are on another level after having children, and I suddenly felt very protective over him. I exploded, I argued, and I wound myself up with frustration and anger at what I was reading.
But for every vile person I rallied against, there was another 200 of them waiting on the sidelines. That’s the thing about the internet, it brings every bit of lowlife scum out of the woodwork. My anxiety levels were sky high, and I had to just go offline for a while. I felt very low and panicky, but it also ignited a passion inside me. It actually felt good to care about something important other than who was going to win the X Factor, and never have I felt so strongly about what was going on in this country…I will not let my daughter grow up in this hate filled society!
Little things can make a big difference
I wasn’t alone in thinking this though, and it’s a good thing, as this is how shit gets done. This is how people come together to affect a positive change. I started to wonder what I could do, and here’s what I came up with:
- Firstly, surround yourself with like-minded people. Follow blogs/Twitter/Facebook pages, leave comments and have conversations with them. Join groups. This helped me to balance out all the negativity I seemed to be surrounded in, and felt like I wasn’t on my own.
- Equally, get rid of the bad ones and don’t feel guilty about it. What has shocked me more than anything is finding out that people I thought I knew were just downright racist. I actually reported and blocked a ‘friend’ (she wasn’t really, just someone I used to work with years ago) for sharing an outrageously offensive photo on Facebook. I’ve never once questioned my decision, and will quite happily remove anyone else if they do the same.
- Join a political party. Get involved in campaign events, and find out who your local MP is. Get in contact with them with any concerns/problems you may have in your area.
- Protest. It is our right to take part in peaceful protests in this country, and the more people that are involved, the more likely it is that we will be noticed.
- Call out racism when you see it. Luckily we live in a society where hate crimes are not tolerated, but it is up to each and every one of us to stamp it out together. Speak up if you see someone being abused in public, and report it if you see it online.
- Get involved in your local community. While it is highly unlikely that you’ll be able to get the entire country to come together and settle their differences, you can start by trying to make positive changes in your own community. In Birmingham we have an excellent initiative called Love Your Neighbour which encourages people to get to know their neighbours in our wonderfully diverse city, and carry out an act of kindness.
- Above all, remain positive and stand up for what you believe in! I truly believe that good will always triumph over bad, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. As for Brexit/Trump, well they were decided democratically so I respect that. Change can be a good thing, I just hope that over time it will be a change in the right direction.