Perception is not always a good thing

I suppose this can be said about many things, as near enough everything is open to interpretation these days, especially the written word. However the content of this piece in the Guardian 2 days ago left me full of both anger and pity.

It is probably healthy to let out the anger first, so here goes. My wife is Swedish, therefore my children, despite being born here, are both half Swedish. So after the recent debacle (the general global consensus is that this really was so) called Brexit the UK has hit the headlines for a number of reasons. Sadly a large portion of those have not been very pleasant and the article linked to above is just one very recent example. Reported xenophobia has increased by a startling 41% if this Huffington Post example is to be taken on face value, and there was also the most serious of cases which led to the death of the MP Jo Cox prior to the vote even taking place.

My single biggest fear is that my wife and children may also be exposed to this over the coming months/ years and all because we are no longer part of Europe. For some reason a xenophobic minority think it is now OK to go around saying and doing whatever they want to people they believe not to be British. Hate fuels hate and if ever there was a time for everyone to re-watch the 1982 Biography about Ghandi, now would be it. It is absolutely remarkable that we have so much documented history from the last 100 years and yet we still can’t learn the lessons.

So now that I’ve vented a little I’ll move on to the pity element. My pity lies with those who still struggle to see the kindness in others, those who still use violence to express their fears rather than opening up a conversation to talk about them. They use social media to bully others, particularly in schools; and they have no concept or ability to listen to a counter argument that challenges their existing beliefs or way of thinking. It is incredible that even writing these words has evoked a wave of emotions that are now engulfing me to the point of choking, and all because of how very real they feel in a world that is now full of hatred, despair, and poverty. And yet the source of this can now be pinpointed to one or two major events in our recent 30 year history. The first is pretty obvious. A war which never was about anything other than oil started by the west and which has fuelled a rise in terrorist activity of a magnitude that has never been seen before. Second our most influential and precious commodity of the modern world, the internet. Communication and mis-communication alike travel in milliseconds across the globe. Therefore we all have a duty of care, I believe we do anyway, to ensure that we use this power with care; sadly even world leaders abuse this daily.

So our powers that be running our country now have a huge job to do, and in a way we can assist them with this as it will be beneficial to us all. We need to dispel the perception that we are a small, big headed, xenophobic country trying to regain the power of an empire long lost and replace it with a the reality that we are a small nation of talented people who have been poorly managed over recent times and who now have the intention to make amends. We do have ambitions to ensure that the “Great” in our country is justified but equally we are not conceited enough to believe that just because we say we are, that the rest of the world will listen.

I love my country but right now I’m embarrassed by the actions of a minority who are bringing it into disrepute. Our image outside of our own blinkered view is no longer one of “Great” as this has been replaced by “what do they think they are doing?” So let’s all rally together and bring it back. We’ve been dealt a hand through no fault of our own so lets play with it and create the best possible outcome we can. And we need to start this by being humble enough to accept that we have probably made a bit of a mess of things over the last few years.

Thank you.