A Gentle Revolution – Pt 2

We are not doing celebrity, personality, abusive politics – we are doing ideas. This is about hope. Jeremy Corbyn

The funny thing about hope is that it doesn’t take much of it to make a difference to your day, to a generation, to a nation. Hope is what happened yesterday in the British elections.

I was at work on the other side of the world, it was my day time as the UK results started trickling in at 10am/pm depending on one’s antipodean situation. I’m an ex-pat Brit living in New Zealand and I have taken very little interest in British elections because they still embrace first past the post instead of proportional representation, and consequently have an inherently unfair system that inevitably results in maintaining the status quo for the privileged. To add insult to injury, I had been disgusted with the result of the Brexit vote, so had pretty much written off the island kingdom.

This time felt different however, as the British Labour Party has been going through a process, either rebirth or death throes. The media and political punditry (both right and left of the spectrum) have for months claimed it to be the latter.

Throughout the day I sneakily watched online updates on the Guardian website with trepidation, fearing that my homeland would once again be swayed by the stale message of ‘strong and stable leadership’. But from the moment the exit polls indicated something else might be afoot, I was transfixed and a small flame flared up in my heart.

6720It had already been obvious that the Labour Party leader had tapped into a yearning in members of the voting public, not the wealthy ones of course, but the ordinary Joes, a bit like the folk left behind in the US who upturned that nation’s political world back in November. You’d have thought the chattering elite would have learned a lesson by now. But no, the message of austerity and gloom continued to be spread as one of no alternative.

Trouble is people cannot live with doom and gloom. A wise man in biblical times wrote: ‘where there is not vision, the people perish’,  and a truer word could not apply more to modern times. Of course the message that Jeremy Corbyn has to offer was very different from Donald Trump’s, based as it is on a lifetime of service to others (as opposed to self-serving), and a philosophy that puts the welfare of all above the benefit of a small elite (compared with the wheeler-dealing trader of tinsel).

Young and old, poor and some middle-classed responded and made it patently clear to all the pundits who had rubbished, scorned, denigrated, and insulted Corbyn for many months, that they liked to have a bit of hope.

ELECTION Main

Even if the reins of power were not quite achieved yesterday, something has changed,
and it felt like a victory.

The calvinistic work ethic, that some have to do it hard, that’s just their lot in life, accept it and knuckle down, has been rejected. Instead, we can work together to make a fairer society, doesn’t seem such a wishy washy dreamer’s plaint.

The multitudes that got out, attended rallies, door knocked, spoke to unbelieving family and friends, have shown that there are indeed many of us who share a common goal. We are legion, and there are many more, who maybe did not have the courage to act on what they hoped for, but now have seen what can be achieved with a concerted effort.

Some might say a gentle revolution has taken place. Some of those monied, and powerful elites might be shaken by what they have seen. Despite the overwhelming odds of a negative and biased media, a popular movement has begun, bypassing the traditional or expected behaviours. My hope is that it will spread, because we all need hope, as we all need food, water and air. It is the essence of life as a human being.

Hope springs eternal is a tired and at times meaningless proverb, nonetheless it is true. Hope is what religion is based on, and every society has been built around it. People can endure horrendous suffering if they believe it will come to an end and a better future awaits. Hope is built into our psyche, even the most despicable depots and torturers rely on it to break their prisoners.

By the same token, it will be important to build on that hope, to feed it, to make sure it comes to pass, because ‘hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life’; without it, there is death, both literal and metaphorical.

My hope is that my country, which is facing an election in September will learn from the UK, that our media will start to balance its coverage of the various parties and critically examine the policies without bias. I hope that the left of centre parties who have, for some time, thought their only path was to move rightwards to attract the voters, will now understand that is not the way to woo. There has to be something very different on offer, not more of the same wrapped up with a different coloured bow.

A warning has been sounded to all complacent governments, your days are numbered if you do not fulfill your obligation and duty to care for your people. If you continue to tread down the down-trodden, they will rise up when a suitable leader speaks the words they long to hear, and offers a different path. We all basically want the same things, home, warmth, food, safety, love, fulfilment, purpose. It’s just that some people have those, without seeming to understand that everyone needs them, and are unwilling to share.

John Lennon sang in 1971:

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

A Gentle Revolution – Pt 1

We can create a new kind of politics: kinder, more respectful, but courageous, too. Jeremy Corbyn

On the verge of change, hope is resurrected, the world of possibilities opens. It’s only an election on the other side of the world, but it is the land of my birth and I care what happens. For a long time my political heart has been filled with the philosophies of the left, not socialism as such, but a more humanitarian, egalitarian mindset. In the context of the history of the land I live in as well as my homeland, agendas that are totally at odds with my beliefs have dominated the greater part of my adult years. But there is a stirring in the air. Can you hear it? A vibration building. Can you feel it?

England has the opportunity for  gentle revolution, or it can choose the status quo, thinking of the devil you know rather than a change for good. For too long the western nations have thrown up a succession of grey men and occasional women, preaching a message of steady as she goes, don’t rock the boat, tighten the belt and pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

obama_victoryEvery now and then a small beacon of hope flares up (Obama was one), which inspires the people to believe they can make a difference, society can be better.

Too often that beacon is stifled, snuffed out, as following the election of the Greek Coalition of the  Radical Left (SYRIZA), the powers against change showed how quickly and efficiently  can act.

Bernie Sanders is another who burned for a time, drawing young and old together in a dream for a better future for all, but instead the nation’s convoluted (and arguably corrupt) electoral system intervened, and instead a monstrous demigod has risen to power.

ce2dfd23a1b76a7ba4f6dbee38ac2158In France, a battle between bigotry and cultured, rational, measured humanitarianism was uninspiring until the duly elected Macron trumped the American president in a hand-shake and the world cheered.

Now Jeremy Corbyn is drawing the multitudes to him, touched by his humanity, his genuine love of his fellow man. He has been persecuted, scorned, demonised, harangued, but still he is calm and steadfast to the truths that he has lived throughout his life.

an121825919a-crowd-gathers-That is why people respond, even if they disagree with his policies, he speaks to them directly, he does not need speech notes or tele prompts, because he knows and understands the yearnings of ordinary folk. A messianic figure maybe, or a pied piper. But he gives people hope that the future can be different, that is does not have to be misery, poverty, hardship. The society he preaches invests in its people, not buildings, in education for all, not military might, in free, quality healthcare, not privilege for the wealthy. Who would not want this?

The pity is that too often the downtrodden do not dare to believe that their situation can change, and from fear they choose to stay in their confines instead of walking through the open door. Change can be scary, we get comfortable in our old slippers and sloppy jersies. It is easier to watch telly than read a book, or go out and offer a helping hand to a needy neighbour. Shunning the stranger in our midst is preferable to inviting them into our home and making an effort to understand another’s culture. Difference is easier to reject than to integrate.

To make a better world there has to be active participation, it will will never trickle down from the wealthy to the poor. Like tree that grows strong there has to be a good root system or else the first strong wind of adversity will rip it out. The roots are the everyday people, you and me, mum and dad, brother and sister, black and white and yellow and brown. The blood is red for us all. There is so much more that we have in common than keeps us apart; every family tree goes back to a small gene pool.

It is good that a man of peace is speaking words of conciliation, and showing by example that decency and tolerance offer a better path than division and bellicosity. To be sure, the paths of war have lead us to the point of destruction so many times, but we never learn. The paths of acquisitiveness and objectification are leading us to planetary annihilation.

To continue to wilfully ignore the blindingly obvious at election time is a betrayal of our children’s future. We allow the machinations of those with ulterior motives determine the agenda, to manipulate the media, to turn those with altruism in their hearts into laughing stocks.

But when utopia is no longer an option because dystopia rules, remember there used to be a choice. Did you make it?

Thrash metal band, Megadeth released their album last year:

Dystopia
If you only want to live and die in a cage
There’s panic and there’s chaos, rampant in the streets
Where useless thoughts of peace are met with rage

Demoralized and overmastered people think
The quickest way to end a war is lose
Dictatorship ends starting with tyrannicide
You must destroy the cancer at it’s root