I couldn’t sleep last night. Not because of the usual small child not letting me sleep, but because I was worrying. Worrying about what is happening to our country, worrying that I am bringing another life into the world when it all seems to be becoming a scarier place by the day.
I was informed via social media that on Saturday the 2nd of July 2016 there is a planned march through Southampton city centre by a group called south coast resistance. Who identify themselves as far right and have ties with the EDL. They will march under the banner “Refugees not welcome” and plan on harassing and intimidating local people.
How is this happening where I live?
My mind instantly went to my friends who work, live and frequent the city on the weekends, then trying to work out who might be too brown to escape some sort of persecution by these small minded thugs. It is awful that I am worrying about this sort of thing in this day and age.
How have the leaders of our country allowed things to reach such a level?
Don’t groups realise that by stirring up hatred and intolerance, inciting people to join them in harming others because they weren’t born in our country, that they are taking a step back eighty years? To a time where our grandparents all had to go and fight a long and bloody war to stop this sort of thing? If we are trying to head back there, but this time as the bad guys instead of the good guys, then how long until we all become refugees ourselves?
I have always loved living where I live, it is a rich multicultural society, you can eat food from all around the world, you can find a place of worship for any faith that you care to mention. Its a lovely melting pot, and I want it to stay this way.
I am happy for my children to go to school with other children from around the world, learn other languages and cultural experiences. When I was a child my family emigrated to Brazil so that my Dad could build an orphanage for street kids on a piece of land that the church had been given. We were welcomed with open arms. I went to school even though my Portuguese was barely existent when we arrived. Other children tried out English phrases on me to try and communicate with me. Far from being repulsed by my differences, they were fascinated, as was I with them. Even though there was a language barrier, we still found ways to play together.
I think that we could all learn a lesson from children, who are what we make them. If they are not exposed to hatred and bigotry, and are left to explore the world in their own time, choosing for themselves what they think is good or bad, they all just tend to get along, they never argue because someone is a different colour or speaks a different language to them, obviously if someone is hogging the swing then they are going to be unpopular regardless of their heritage.
And that is how I got myself to sleep last night, by reminding myself that my children will be raised around love. I will teach them to value someones actions above their skin colour. To choose to lead with respect and love and hope that it is returned to them, that where someone is born (a thing in which none of us have any say over) is an interesting thing to know about a person, but not a way to judge them.
And for those of you who will be in the city centre on Saturday morning. Please take care, or yourself and the others around you. Please remember that the crazy few do not represent the rest of us. If you want to raise your own banner against them, please do it peacefully and do not sink to their level. Hopefully since there are laws in our country, such as the racial and religious act of 2006, these people can be arrested for inciting racial hatred as it is illegal.
Wear your safety pins with pride. This last week since the EU referendum has been scary and unsettling enough. We need to stop this kind of behaviour as quickly as we can. Do report hate crimes that you witness to the police. Do not allow bullies to take over. The only way to stop this sort of thing is to stand up against it.
I want to live in peace in our country. I don’t care where my neighbour was born or what language they speak, as long as they are nice to me and I am nice to them.
Now everyone go and listen to Imagine and be lovely to each other. I need my sleep, I have a toddler and I am five months pregnant, so do it for me and my peace of mind if you can’t do it for yourself.