The announcement of a General Election on June 8th sent me into meltdown.
Having endured months of people arguing and falling out over Brexit in the UK, followed by the same over the establishment of Trumptown in the US, I just felt politicked out. I have never fallen out with anyone over their beliefs, and, indeed, one of my closest friends voted for Brexit, while I am a passionate Remainer. It hasn’t dented our friendship one iota. I haven’t lost any friendships in the US, either, but that’s because not one single person I know voted for Trump. If they did, it’s not the kind of person I want in my life anyway.
A party that is so obviously (even proudly) intolerant, sexist, racist, homophobic, ignorant (to the point of stupidity - do check out White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s briefings) and increasingly dangerous - how could anyone with an ounce of humanity get behind them and their claims to be for the “ordinary” man and woman? Not least while their leader takes every photo opportunity in front of a gold-plated backdrop and threatens everyone he doesn’t like with bombing the shit out of them?
As the countdown to June 8th begins, I felt I couldn’t face another seven weeks of aggro. While I love social networking as a tool, it quickly becomes anti-social when people seem incapable of accepting anyone whose views differ from their own. Personally, I am always open to new ideas (I DID listen to Trumpites, by the way, but my opinion didn’t change) and I encourage debate rather than ranting.
One thing is evident, though: people have become more aggressive as they have become more selfish. It now feels that the dominant mentality is every man/woman for him/herself, and sod the rest of you.
But before you go to the polling booth, ask yourself just one question: what sort of human being do you want to be?
For me, there is no contest. We are all in this life together, and it is our moral duty to support those who are weaker than ourselves - the frail, the sick, the mentally ill, the young and vulnerable, the elderly (also vulnerable) and in fear . . . I could go on. It’s called having a heart.
I consider myself blessed every day. Although I have been through tough times that I’ve written about (depression and financial worries, to name but two), we all go through the mill at some point in our lives. But I have a roof over my head and I have my health.
I also have a support network of people whom I trust and love, and we are always there for each other. If we are lucky in life, friends and family pull us through every time; yet surely the State has a duty to us, too - it’s what we pay our taxes for.
I am not married. I have no children. As a single person, I am discriminated against in so many areas (read The Solo Pound about my gripe about never being able to have the Chateaubriand “for two”), but I don’t resent for a second my taxes supporting those struggling to bring up families on little income, or being used to provide decent education for future generations. I’m not sick, but I don’t resent my taxes supporting a free NHS. I’m not in a wheelchair, but I don’t complain about councils spending money on ramps. And so on.
Hate crime against the disenfranchised in our society is on the up - disturbingly so. It seems that anyone in a vulnerable minority is a target and it makes me desperately sad. It’s cruel, reprehensible and inhumane. We need not only to stand up for, but show that we are standing up for, the Everyman (or woman).
Jeremy Corbyn would not have been my first choice as Labour leader and he has come in for a lot of flak since he was voted in. Everyone is predicting a landslide for Theresa May as a result. Her decision to call for an election doesn’t surprise me or horrify me as it has so many - she’s a politician, for goodness’ sake; of course she’s going to protect her plinth in whatever way she sees beneficial.
But let’s not write Corbyn off. He’s a good man - someone who really does put the disenfranchised before his own interests. His lacklustre performance over Brexit did him no favours and one can only hope that he gets the wind behind his sails in the forthcoming weeks.
You may have already decided against him. You may have decided to take the coward’s way out and not vote at all. You may have resigned yourself to the possibility that there will never again be a Labour government in your lifetime. Maybe the world really has changed into one in which people really don’t give a damn about anyone else.
I like to think not; and the millions who continue to serve others in so many areas of life - medical, social, psychological, educational - so many, many areas - lead me to believe that this is the case.
So, wherever you are in this decision making moment, please, before voting, consider that one question I asked earlier: what sort of person do you want to be?
And, also, what sort of person do you want to be seen to be?