2020, we’ve got your back.

Slowing down towards the festive season, I’m feeling pensive. What follows is largely me giving myself a talking to, but feel free to jump onto my train of thought.

People’s lives are unique, aren’t they? Here in rural Suffolk my ‘normal’ is worlds away from someone born on the same day in North Korea, or Indonesia, or Syria, or uptown New York. It may be significantly different from yours, even if you only live 30 miles away. My circumstances, how I spend my day and what goes on inside my head – they’re unique to me, and that uniqueness of personal experience is replicated 7.6 billion time over, one for each person alive on Earth today. What a thought that is, for starters.

And yet, when I watch those TV programmes where Simon Reeve or Michael Palin explores some obscure corner of our world, what I notice is this: that even without the common bond of a spoken language, people smile when smiled at. They open up their homes, they share their food, they love their children and they show concern about their environment. Oh, and their kids will always play football with you. And there’s another thought.

It’s been a disruptive, often ugly three years here in the UK. It’s right that as a nation we engage with our politicians and their politics. It’s good that we form opinions and feel strongly about bringing into reality what we believe is the best future for our children.

But the dialogue has been toxic.

Much has been made in the past three years of ‘Britishness’ and ‘British values’ in the rhetoric from all sides. For me, the ‘British values’ instilled by my parents were these:

  • Good manners
  • Fair play
  • Sticking up for the underdog

I’ve struggled to see these in action with much of the aggression and point-scoring of our recent national debate, haven’t you? And sadly, I recognise that I’ve allowed myself to become angrier and more critical and more frustrated, in line with the public mood. I don’t like how that’s felt, and I don’t like how it’s shown itself from time to time.  

Still, it’s Christmas. 2019 is almost over, and 2020 is almost upon us, so here’s another reflection I can offer you. A more positive one.

If, like me, you’ve spent too much time over the past three years shouting at the radio, switching off the TV because of who’s just come on it, or generally feeling like you’re too small to make a difference, here’s the Plan.

Next year, let’s put our energy where we can make a positive difference. Instead of stressing about what everyone else is thinking (which is out of our control), let’s show them what WE stand for and set an example they want to follow. Let’s take care of the little actions, the things we say and how we say them.

“We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us,” as Jo Cox MP said in her maiden speech.

  • Good manners
  • Fair play
  • Sticking up for the underdog

Come on in, 2020. We’ve got your back.

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