It has been a terrible, horrible week.
I’ve watched in horror as an overwhelming flood of hatred and bile has spewed forth, on-line, in print, and from real people, both on television and face to face.
We have one of the Presidential candidates in the United States espousing more guns! Less Mexicans! Make America great again! America for the white, for the straight, for the people just like him!
We have the savage murder of 49 people in a nightclub. Targeted because they were gay.
Closer to home, we have anti-migration posters reminiscent of anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda, depicting, you know, those people fleeing war and the destruction of their homes, who want to move their families to safety. The language and imagery used is more appropriate for ’28 days later’ or ‘World War Z’. It is not appropriate for the biggest humanitarian crisis of our generation.
The fear stimulated has kindled so much anger, so much hatred. And into this we add the ‘debate’ over our future in Europe. If there was ever a time for a referendum, this is not it.
Neighbours poisoned against each other, vitriolic virtual and verbal attacks. A nation divided.
Is it wrong to weep over the death of a woman you have never met?
On Thursday morning, I had put all concerns about the US presidency and the EU referendum aside. My biggest worry was whether a smudge of dirt on a Powerpoint presentation of a blood film may be mistaken for a Howell Jolly body.
On Thursday afternoon, our MP Jo Cox was stabbed, shot and died bleeding on the street 4.8 miles from where I’m sitting now. Where friends were due to meet her to campaign about the EU referendum, and where other friends had been recently to campaign. She was going to meet her constituents.
She was the kind of MP I’d like to be, if I were ever to be elected. So proud of her community. We contacted her over the junior doctors nonsense; it all feels like nonsense now. She took the time to listen, to care, and to represent our views in parliament. Somehow, she managed to do that for all her constituents who needed her, whilst campaigning for an ethical approach to the crisis in Syria, increased British support for child refugees, women’s rights…
The news clips show her as so vibrant, so full of life, and so full of love for her family. I wish I’d known her.
We don’t know yet why she was murdered. It would be easy to take on a thousand theories, and to stoke the fires of anger this brings. As a community we choose not to. As a community we choose to come together, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and others with less obvious outward signs of religion, or no religion. We choose to mourn her, together, and continue the work about which she was so passionate.
Rest in peace Jo. Your family will be loved, and we will continue your work.