There are two young children at the moment who will be struggling to understand the concept of hate. A hate so powerful it has taken the life of their mother. The children of Jo Cox, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, who was senselessly and brutally murdered could easily grow up to hate. I sense, from reading a statement made by Brendan Cox, their father, that he will do everything in his power to stop that happening.
In America, there are many families who are also struggling to understand why their loved ones were killed, simply because they loved someone of their own sex. Think about that, 149 people were killed, scores of others injured, not because they hated, simply because they loved.
I struggle to comprehend this.
On my way to work I pass my local primary school and since the horrific events in Orlando, they’ve flown the rainbow flag at half-mast. They shared the grief, recognised the love and did not buy into the hate.
There is much we can do as a society to stem the rise of such a destructive hate. One simple, yet important step is to think carefully about what we say and how we say things. We must exercise caution and apply a logic to our thoughts to ensure that we do not unwittingly feed the hate that dwells in some people.
Yet it seems to me that both caution and logic are missing from the campaigns of many of the high profile politicians trying to ‘win’ our vote in the upcoming EU referendum.
I was 16 when we last voted, but if I could, I would have voted to join. In this vote, I will vote to remain. My vote however hasn’t been ‘won’ by either the ‘in’ or ‘leave’ campaigns.
Both sides have twisted facts, told half-truths, spun stories trying to persuade us to vote ‘their way’. Neither side has convinced me. I’ve decided how to vote by looking beyond the hate and rhetoric.
What disturbs me most during this whole campaign is the stirring of a form of hate that I loathe. The ‘problem’ we’ve been told by both sides is ‘people’. ‘Too many people’ or ‘the wrong sort of people’ worst of all ‘foreigners coming here’. When it’s alleged that the cause of many of our ‘problems’, from housing to healthcare from school places to jobs, is defined by the existence of certain groups of people, you aren’t going to promote love, quite the opposite.
It has been, for me, a campaign characterised by hate.
Love and hate are powerful human emotions, so powerful they can unite or destroy, not just individuals, but whole countries. Jo Cox’s husband summed hate up perfectly for me, hate, he said doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.
Too often, rather than attacking problems, we’ve end up attacking people. This builds resentment and that leads to hate.
The world is full of problems, but if all we do is attack people, for their beliefs or their ethnic origins, for what they have or do not have, then we poison the minds of others. They see the attacks and buy into the mistaken belief that the problem resides in the existence of ‘these people’. That’s when the hate takes hold.
Ultimately there’s just one race – the human race. We all inhabit the same planet, we all depend on each other and our ecosystem. Yes, I know that there are different cultures, religions, characteristics etc. that ‘define’ groups of people, but if you look at yourself in a strictly biological sense, you might be surprised.
I recently had my DNA analysed to look at my ancestry. I was surprised to find that I have 39% Irish, 32% British, 14% Scandinavian and 1% Iberian Peninsula heritage. I know this is not something to rely upon 100%, but it set me thinking. If we did vote to leave, am I ‘British’ enough to stay? I look, sound and behave very British (I’m told). Yet my DNA tells a different human story that I’m now motivated to investigate. Scandinavia? Really? The Irish I can see, I am Welsh, born in Wales – St Patrick, patron Saint of Ireland, was, after all, Welsh.
It’s easy for people to make assumptions about others and for those assumptions to be quite wrong. If we make too many assumptions, it’s a short jump to making illogical and incorrect conclusions. The path to hatred then is a very short one.