As a young person, scrolling through social media and the news over the last couple of days makes me feel desperately worried for our future. Not solely because of the results of our UK general election and what it proves about our country and what we have come to value (the headline on the BBC this morning was ‘what a Conservative win means for your money’ as opposed to what a Conservative win means for the less well off, homeless, disabled, refugees and many others who may struggle), but because even now, just days after we’ve voted and everyone has had the chance to have our say, Facebook is still full of petty arguments, profanities and insults. To put it simply – division.
However, amongst all the fear, frustration and grief that I see around me, I still have hope that we can come together as human beings.
I definitely don’t understand all the nuances of politics and all the pieces of the bigger picture, but I’ve been on a journey that most people will never have experienced and it’s shown me a lot about social division, where the divides lie and what it looks like when people come together. I’ve been welcomed into communities in every area and accepted by people from every background and that has taught me to see life from many different points of view. So I speak only from my own experience.
This is not really supposed to be a political post but if you look around you at the society we all live in, you’ll see circumstantial inequalities and social issues at every turn and if we don’t play our part in making a difference now, those issues will affect us all. I don’t have to go into detail, the amount of people I’ve met recently who quite simply have given up watching the news because of the negative effect it’s having on them says it all.
Some of us are totally disillusioned with our current political situation and some of us got what they wanted, but in the long run, division doesn’t get any of us anywhere. As a society, we need to decide what we value and look at the consequences of those values for our future, just like we seem to have done with environmental issues. Social issues are no different, if we don’t take action, it affects us all, not just those on the frontline.
For example, relatively recently it’s become frowned upon to fly around the world and valued to be ecologically aware for the sake of the environment and humanity simply because we see the effects that things like flying will have on our future and it terrifies us.
We’ve taken that power into our own hands to act on environmental issues, why can’t we do the same for social ones? Issues that are affecting people NOW?
We’re at a tipping point and, I speak to young people specifically here, we are the generation who need to care. Even if you got what you wanted in this election, it’s obvious that we can’t rely on politics to bring us together any more. We have to do that ourselves. I’m not saying politics doesn’t affect people’s lives, but what’s done is done. It’s up to us to make the difference now. It’s up to us to stand in solidarity with one another and make sure no one goes hungry or can’t pay their rent.
Visiting what most people would describe as ‘socially and economically deprived” communities on this journey has been eye opening for us and hopefully for you as you’ve followed our progress. These places are described as deprived because of all the social issues and because there isn’t a lot of wealth and affluence, but these people have something most of us don’t seem to have nor to value, but something that brings great support, contentment and wholeness.
It’s hard to sum up in words, but these people are there for each other through everything, full of passion and energy, they have empathy and a deep commitment to the people around them. Politics makes their life difficult, but they are hospitable, generous and incredible despite of it. Who’s in 10 Downing Street does not define them and we don’t have to let it define us. We, as a country, can recognise that division does not serve any one of us and come together in our communities and as a nation. I truly believe that. What do you think?