The results of the recent British general election delighted me – not because of the actual final result, but because of the underlying message. It was called by the conservatives on the assumption that people would respond to their insistence that they needed to be an even stronger majority in order to ‘beat’ the European leaders in the Brexit negotiations. Their message was based on fear and arrogance: without them we would lose out in the Brexit deal, and they knew best how to do it. It seems that they were ‘inspired’ by Donald Trump and his victory. They didn’t even bother to cost their manifesto properly and made no attempt to suggest that everyday life could improve – in fact, the opposite; they proposed more cuts. And when their ideas didn’t go down well, they slagged off the opposition, suggesting they were incompetent.
Labour, on the other hand, our main opposition party, campaigned on the basis of the belief that there could be a better way to approach the future in this country, talking about strategies to make people feel cared for, and they emphasised the policies that would help us to move forward, not just try to offset previous economic problems. They had worked carefully on their policies and thought them through, and they didn’t take the negative approach of trying to put down the conservatives – they explained how their own policies could work. Their message was based on looking forward positively and the genuine belief that there could be a better way in the future.
In the course of the electioneering, we had two terrorist attacks in Britain, and even then, fear was not the overwhelming reaction – it was kindness and courage and community.
And the Conservatives did get the majority of the seats, but not enough to form a government on their own – less than they had before. And Labour did lose the election, but gained 29 more seats and strengthened their voice throughout the country.
It seems to me that more people are tired of the emphasis on fear and individualism, and are wanting something more positive, inclusive and forward-looking. No-one ‘won’ this time, but the tide is turning.
And each of us can play our part in helping this tide to grow, because we reflect in microcosm what is going on on a grander scale, and we also contribute to it.
Reducing our fear
We have all absorbed the message that we need to be fearful of things getting worse in some way, because it is so prevalent in our culture. It may be sticking with a job you don’t like in case there’s nothing else out there for you, or thinking that we are unsafe on our own in a street, or some form of fitting in with peers even though you don’t really agree with it.
Whatever you have that is driven by a fear, just consider the possibility of stepping away from it a little – no grand gestures needed, just not allowing it to control you so much.
Compromising what we have as core values
Sometimes we all go along with something that isn’t being true to ourselves. We can all stand up for our values and give our genuine opinion. This doesn’t have to be harsh or argumentative. It can be as simple as saying, ‘I don’t agree with that,’ or ‘ I think that life would be better if….’
Telling our truth is important, and it can be done gently and kindly.
Moving towards a better way of living your life
It is easy to get caught in the story of wishing things were like they used to be, but that doesn’t make any difference. Let’s look to the future, and find small things to do that improve our lives.
Caring for yourself and others
Small acts of kindness create big differences. Let yourself have a rest instead of continuing to push yourself. Smile at that stranger whom you might otherwise ignore or avoid.
We can watch the news and feel that everything is wrong in our world, so what’s the point. Or we can notice the small signs that the tide is turning, and add our weight to them by playing our part. I prefer the second alternative – it is a more empowering, constructive and fun place to live!