Humans have been given plenty of choices lately.
One of the wonderful things about democracy is that we are all given a say in how our country moves forwards. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go our way.
I’ll put my cards on the table now and say that as a young person with liberal views, I’m baffled as to the choices we’ve made in 2016. Instead of moving forwards, we seem to be regressing. What many view with rose-tinted glasses as “the good old days” are actually days of privilege for them, but discrimination, hatred and prejudice for others – and the choices we have made take us back into that territory. I’m bemused. But that’s democracy in action.
The choices we make these days are rooted in hatred and fear. Fear of jobs being stolen; fear of cultures being diminished. Hatred of anything “other”, hatred of anything perceived as a threat to stubborn ways of life.
I can’t change the outcome of any election. I can’t change the fact that my country is leaving the EU, despite it not being something I wanted to happen. I can’t change the fact that the entire referendum was based on hate and fear being spewed by both sides. I can’t change the fact that the US has elected a president whose entire campaign was built on hatred and fear; in an election based entirely on – you guessed it – hate and fear tactics.
Wars are built on hatred and fear. Dictatorships are built on hatred and fear. Nothing good ever comes of a world built on hatred and fear.
I can change the choices I make, and nothing else. But that’s enough.
This morning, I brought my daughter into my bed and cuddled her, and she looked at me with big, innocent eyes as I spoke to her. I said, “Sometimes the world makes decisions we can’t understand, and we can’t change that. All we can do is make our own choices with love and hope, not hatred and fear”.
It’s not been an easy year to do that. There was no choice in the referendum, and no choice in the presidential election, which did not involve fear, anger and hatred. Friendships have been broken irreparably. “Hope” isn’t a word people will associate with 2016’s political events.
But it’s still a choice.
Hope isn’t something that can be destroyed by the number of votes a candidate receives. Love is not so fragile that it cannot withstand a turbulent political atmosphere.
We have woken up today. The sun has risen. There is blood in your veins and a beat in your heart and so much feeling. Whether that feeling is elation or anger; you feel something about the direction in which the world is going, and that’s the most important thing.
Brexit could be the best decision the country ever makes, and becomes a lesson in independence; in striking out against the popular opinion and the government. Trump could be a horrific president, who sets women’s rights back decades and discriminates against LGBT+ communities and causes immense divides between races and cultures; becoming a lesson in why choosing fear ends badly for all involved.
For now, I don’t choose fear or hate. Hard though it seems, as the world wakes to an uncertain future, I choose to love my fellow humans regardless of sex or sexuality; colour or creed. I choose to hope for a future where we are more tolerant, more patient, more loving and more kind.
I choose to raise my daughter to love democracy; to love that her voice can be heard, even if the outcome isn’t always desirable. I choose to raise my daughter to hope for change and progress; to never rest on her laurels, to strive for better lives for all.
There’s enough hate in the world right now. I choose love.