Political Polarization in Action: One rule for us, another for them…

Reflections on Anti-bullying Week 2020.

I remain dumbfounded by the irony that Priti Patel was not held to account for bullying during Anti-Bullying Week.

How can we ask school children all over the country to wear odd socks for Anti-Bullying Week and then, in that same week, fail to hold people to account for bullying at the highest level of government?

It is the most blatant example of saying one thing and doing another that I have ever observed. Any yet another example of one rule for us and another for them.

As a parent, I’m really struggling with the subliminal messaging that my children are receiving in the current environment. That money and connection buys privilege and the more money and the more connections you have, the safer you are, the more unassailable you are.

As a parent, I don’t want my children to have these beliefs. I want them to follow their passions and interests and to share themselves and their knowledge for the greater good, to have a good life and to enrich the lives of others in the process, to be free to be themselves while also being part of something greater than themselves.

 

So much of what is happening in the world today is at odds with that.

 
Brexit, the current government, the climate crisis, Black Lives Matter, “Me Too”, all stem for this same fundamental focus on self-interest and self-preservation.

Mention of Brexit, weeks away, makes my heart sink. As someone who is half-Irish and half-English, I have perspective and empathy for both camps, one embracing the collective (the EU) and the other seeking to maintain autonomy (the UK).

And isn’t this representative of a natural tension we all face as individuals? A polarity, in fact. Aren’t these the natural struggles for identity that we play out on an individual level? This desire to protect ourselves, so that we can’t be hurt, constantly dancing with our desire to reach out and be accepted by others. Isn’t this the dance of life, polarities that need to be accepted and managed?

Choosing one stance over the other is, by definition, a polarising position which makes that dance impossible. Without the dance, don’t we become frozen, stuck, intransigent?

We all have had a part to play in creating the current reality. We have either failed to hear all the voices or we have failed to express our opinions so that they are heard.

Many of us are so isolated in our polarity of “privileged and protecting it” and “disadvantaged and forgotten”, that for the most part we aren’t even aware that this is the case. 

Yes, we express our outrage but mostly to those in our own circle that share our outrage. I need to ask myself ‘what I am doing, if anything, to demonstrate that I do not support this current government and their embedding of systemic privilege?’ And, if I’m less gentle with myself, might I be (unconsciously) protecting my own privilege by my silence, benefiting from this status quo polarity even as I detest it?

Onus on us all

Is there a new onus on us all to find ways to voice our opinions? Otherwise, we are supporting the status quo, where money and status are paramount, not honesty, service and sincerity.

I want a world where every human is acknowledged and respected and counts.

Where the loudest and most articulate voice does not drown out all other voices.

Where substance counts for more than image and style.

Where people are held to account for what they say.

Where facts form the basis of discussions.

Where fact-checking is not a political tool but common sense.

Where we really listen to each other and seek to understand each other.

Where we seek to create win-win solutions.

Where everyone has access to opportunity.

That is the world I want for my children and for my children’s children.

And I’m finally waking up to the fact that it’s not something I can delegate.