As I write this, it is the morning after the night before. Elections in the UK have resulted in a sweeping majority for the Conservative party led by Boris Johnson. When looking at the campaign with the most basic of views, it all came down to one issue upon which Britons voted: Brexit. Despite the mountain of other serious issues that this country needs to address, the prevailing concern amongst the electorate was, has been, and is, Britain's divorce from the European Union (which in of itself was a controversial vote that divided this country and unleashed a wave of anti-immigrant, nationalistic, racist sentiment as well as a sense of introversion). Boris Johnson campaigned on the mantra of 'Get Brexit Done', promising to have this issue (which has been hanging over the heads of the British public for the better part of 3 years) done and dusted by the end of January 2020.
The election results couldn't be clearer. That despite the mountain of problems Britain is facing--increased poverty, a national health service in desperate need of investment, schools in need of attention, and a general sense of despair amongst those who aren't rich--British citizens feel that the only way we can get to addressing those concerns is when Brexit is consigned to the history books. And while they may be right, what many Britons are waking up to in the aftermath of this historic election is exhaustion and frustration--two emotions stemming from a gradual increase in worry about where this country is headed, what will happen to their livelihoods and sense of well-being, and what will actually put the "united" back into the kingdom.
For me, this election was the most confusing choice. I believe in capitalism. I believe in being rewarded for hard work and enjoying the fruits of my labour. But I also believe in living in a society that cares for others. I believe in wanting to reach out and lifting people up, especially those who are struggling to climb up on their own. It would be easy for me to live in a bubble and ignore what is happening beyond my four walls but I am fully aware of how life can change in an instant. How fortunes can change. How we all tend to live under what we think is a security blanket yet that blanket can be taken away in an instant: stock markets crash, banks go under, businesses go bankrupt, jobs are lost, homes are lost, able bodies get injured resulting in an inability, for a time, to work resulting in a loss of income. Anything can happen. We can do our best to try to protect ourselves from the "what ifs" but not everything in life is under our control. And while we often think the worst could never happen to us, the reality is we can never know for sure. In fact, the latest UN Human Development Report according to its administrator Achim Steiner who said in an interview with NPR, "What we are seeing is an opening up of a new generation of inequalities, particularly centred around the emerging middle classes of societies. What people perhaps 30, 40 years ago were led to believe and often saw around them was that if you worked hard, you could escape poverty. Yet in many countries today, (that advancement in life) is simply not occurring." NPR reports that "many of the street protests popping up around the globe are driven by a growing sense that societies are rigged to favour the powerful and trap the masses in low-wage, dead-end lives." The good news is, it is with that understanding and awareness that enables us to empathise. It is with that understanding and awareness can we really put ourselves in someone else's shoes and think about what we would do, or even hope for, if we were in their position. All we need to do is open the doors to our lives a little to see what is happening on the other side. This election crystallised that for me. This election crystallised for me that the "me first" mentality won't help us, as a society, grow.
One of the main issues for me that is so symbolic of who we are as a country is the U.K.'s national health service (NHS). I have used the NHS, all of us who live in Britain have, and I am continuously in awe of how hard each and every member of staff works despite the ongoing struggles to cope due to lack of investment, and frankly, attention to what is really needed in a growing society. Stress is on the rise, mental health issues are on the rise. People are unhappy, lonely, disconnected, and feel lost. And that often results in illnesses both physical and mental. We are so fortunate to live in a country that provides excellent healthcare to its citizens yet we are so callous about its importance. Until we need it. In my view, the health of the NHS is non-negotiable. What is also non-negotiable if we are ever to come out from under this dark cloud of pessimism and intolerance that seems to hover over once-liberal and welcoming societies is a change in how we see our fellow human beings. I will repeat what I wrote in my Instagram post after I cast my ballot: Remember, the U.K. isn't just London. It is the small towns and villages that dot the country, places where honest, hardworking people live and raise their families. Each and every one of them wants to live a happy life, a life where they feel worthy. Each and every one of them wants the best for their children. Shouldn't we all be helping each other to feel that way and to achieve our dreams? Idealistic, perhaps. But in today's world and for the future, the future my child will live in, I believe it is necessary.
I will end with a shout out to the articles in #Repost where you will find some amazing pieces that will open your eyes to the good and not so good in this world. It is my goal that by sharing with you some of the fantastic & inclusive material out there which you find in #Repost every week, your perspective is widened. It is my goal that when you read about those who believe in changing the world for the better, it will inspire you to live boldly and with confidence. Because when we bet on ourselves and each other with what we put out there, when we strive for the stars, we inspire others to do the same. Our success, especially the success that comes from wanting to create a prosperous future for all, enables others to feel hopeful. And when we ignite hope, anything is possible. As the brilliant author and social commentator Naomi Klein writes, "The task is clear: to create a culture of caretaking in which no one and nowhere is thrown away, in which the inherent value of people and all life is foundational."