Why the World Needs Your Zest For Life Right Now
What do we hang onto when a wonderful woman like Jo Cox is brutally murdered? What can we do when we feel so helpless in the wake of violence and hatred?...
Before you start reading, a warning..
I am not holding back from my political views in this post. As I get older, I get bolder. I also believe very strongly that I serve the World more when I am open, honest, authentic.
I hope, whether your views are aligned to or different from mine, that you will still read this in the spirit it is offered - a spirit of love. I also hope that you will take from this week’s post the over-riding message I want to share.
So there you go: Full disclosure given. On with the story..
An Emotional Mangle!
On Thursday 16th June, I felt as if I’d been put through an emotional mangle. It was a day that had already been influenced by World events - the awful shootings in The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the rise of Donald Trump and especially, for me, the increasing tension leading up to the UK’s EU Referendum on 23rd June.
This culminated on Thursday in the murder of Jo Cox, mother of two, human rights campaigner and recently appointed Labour MP for Batley and Spen, in West Yorkshire.
Jo was shot and stabbed in her constituency. She had been a staunch advocate of human rights, arguing against bombing in Syria, raising awareness of the benefits of immigration and firmly and vociferously in the “Remain” camp for the referendum.
Whilst England fans were cheering as we scored a second goal against Wales in the Euros on Thursday afternoon, I did not celebrate. I was reeling, shaking. I phoned my mum and had a cry instead.
Events leading up to tears…
I believe with all my heart that Britain should stay in the European Union. I haven’t always felt this: Up until a few months ago, I was like many people - confused and unsure.
All I’m going to say on my reasons is this: The World needs more connectedness, not more separation. I believe that we need to bring people together and seek to find common ground rather than divide and seek difference. I have already voted - thanks to a postal vote granted from my days as a peripatetic Project Manager.
But it wasn’t enough for me just to vote: I wanted to do more, so I investigated how I could support the “Remain” campaigners. To cut a long story short, I joined a group of Labour Party members in Frodsham who were leafleting for “Remain”.
My good friend Claire “volunteered” to come with me (hehehe!!) We met with some hostile reactions from those who were willing to tell us why they were voting “Leave”. It upset me very much that the reasons seemed to share one thing in common: Xenophobia.
One man told me that “Germany are itching for a World War 3”. Another said “France and Germany want to take over”. The Labour coordinator advised us to give one of the UKIP “Leave” campaigners a wide berth - a man in his 70s or 80s. Apparently this man had earlier squared up to one of the "Remain" volunteers, formed a gun with his hand, and pulled the imaginary trigger in his face. He then stamped on his feet. Go figure…
My taste of campaigning for a cause on Thursday was not positive. It was way outside of my comfort zone! Following this unpleasant experience, the edgy state of the World and then the news that Jo Cox had been shot, I wasn’t feeling much in the mood for cheering on England.
But please bear with me - I’ve set the scene and it’s been lengthy compared to the denouement of this particular story....
Zest for Life
Jo’s husband Brendan wrote a beautiful, significant statement following his wife’s death:
“Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love. I and Jo’s friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo.
Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.
She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.
Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.”
Life finds a way to go on
On Thursday night, I dried my tears and dragged myself out of the house to join some of my BMF (British Military Fitness) mates for a hard session in pouring rain.
On Friday morning I went to Freddie’s school for a special assembly. He had been awarded a “Praise Postcard”. He didn't know that he'd been awarded the praise postcard or that mum and dad would be there - big surprise.
After that, I spent the day at The International Festival of Business in Liverpool. It was a day to celebrate women in business and of focusing on the positive impact of courageous women like Jo Cox.
This week, before Referendum Day Claire and I will be screwing our courage to the sticking place and will do some more leafleting for “Vote Remain”.
Life is good and there are good people. And you are one of them.
So the message in this post reflects Brendon Cox’s wonderful tribute to his wife, Jo:
It’s about living your life fully, with energy and compassion. It’s about believing in a better world and fighting for it every day of your life, in your own little way. And you can do that by letting love lead you, not fear.
“Is it love or is it fear?”
It’s a question I ask my clients many, many times. I ask the question about their decisions in every part of their lives. It’s fundamental.. Choose love or fear. Fear is what leads to hate, so choose love.
At 6.30 am on Friday morning, this little meme jumped out at me:
“People are still good, mostly” she said.
“Not from what I’m hearing”, he said.
“Love is quieter than gunshots, but there’s more of it” she said
Since writing this post, after The Praise Postcard Assembly, my son Freddie was praised for the work he puts into all subjects, which he "loves".
But one phrase read out by his teacher in the praise postcard stood out more than any of his academic achievements:
"Fred loves life".
There's little more I need to add except: Go... Live your life full out and with Love.