Our UK democracy (and it is a democracy, albeit a far from perfect one) has put the Tories into power for the next 5 years. My social media streams are still full of shock and anger, a massive sense of fear and hopelessness. Good people are asking why, how, and who is to blame, saying that they will leave the country, and deciding where and how to start the fight against it.
This resistance is vital – not least because it’s a minority of the people that support this government (taking into account the proportion of the electorate that actually voted in support of it) and a majority of people that will no doubt suffer from the actions this government takes.
I want to do something about this. Now is not the time for prevaricating and blog writing (!) but for activism, of course. But I’m not sure that marching on Westminster is the answer for me – and I refuse to blame those people who voted differently from me or say that they are ‘wrong’. Isn’t talk of a ‘fight’ just adding to the creeping sense of anger, fear and hopelessness that has polarised our communities and put the elite back in power? If we shout and rage, don’t we just help perpetuate ‘divide and rule’.
Maybe now really is the time to ‘be the change’, to be bold and brave and say ‘enough’ to all that hate. What kind of a world to we want it to be? I’d like a world full of kindness and hope, empathy and ideas. I’d like people to talk and listen, not shout and blame.
There’s nothing special about me – I’m an ordinary woman, and an artist. So what can I do? I’d like to think that the work I make helps generate a bit of hope, and maybe sparks an odd idea, or even makes a connection between people – not in a big way, maybe, but it’s still important and it’s something I can do.
Working in communities and launching the Echoes Of Oz ‘Heart, Brains and Courage’ awards this week feels like the right thing to do – reminding people in my home city of Bradford just how great they can be – right now feels more important than ever. I’ve written before about a ‘sense of entitlement’, and I think that matters too.
This is not a call to be passive or weak, and I’m not saying there’s no reason to feel angry, nor am I suggesting acceptance. I just think that human beings are fundamentally good – and we can be better than that. Acts of kindness really matter. These things are small, but there’s a lot of it about.
Look at these fab artists in Leeds who are offering the world Tea and Tolerance. Or Festival of Thrift. Or Arts Emergency. Or outside of the arts/cultural sector that I know so well, look at the places that are becoming transition towns. Look to you own community and you’ll quickly find good people doing amazing things – and if you don’t, maybe you could start something, anything – we can all be part of building a world that is better than hate, fear, hopelessness, despair and anger.
Hope and kindness – that’s the stuff we need more of. Who’s in?