I am so tired of governments assuming that we are on one side or the other of an argument! We are all either Brexiter or Remainer, believe COVID is real, or we don’t, and we are racist or not. There is an assumption that we pick a political party and cannot ever agree with the opposite party. And the politicians, well they just seem to actively disagree with the other parties for no genuine reason.
I am not sure about you, but I am very fed up with all these binary discussions. It became evident to me over the last few weeks that we need a more in-depth conversation. When there was a suspicion that ‘shielding’ in the UK for patients at high risk of damage from COVID was coming back into the mix, I was scared. Please see my previous blog on coming out of shielding. I wanted to hear other people’s opinions, so I asked a question on Twitter about who wanted it to go back into full shielded lockdown. The response was very mixed, and there were lots of reasons why arguments for both restarting shielding and remaining as-is. So, although the answer was yes or no, the reasons and the thoughts behind this are multiple and complex.
For such a simple question, the reasoning and thought that goes on behind is not at all simple. Yet, this isn’t shared in the press, the extreme stories are picked because they support one side of the argument, instead of representing people who fall somewhere in between the extremes.
Stop reducing the critical discussions to a headline
I know that we now live in a world where we can have information every minute of the day, but that does not excuse the lack of depth to the stories. I voted to remain in the EU, that does not mean I hate all those who voted for Brexit, and it does not mean that I think the EU is perfect. It means that when I weighed up all the pros and cons that are important to me, the remain argument had more positives. Yet when I listen to the debate, it is like there are only two opinions, Brexit or Remain. This binary choice does not represent the thoughts of people I speak too. There is more to discuss on this issue than a selection of two boxes on a ballot paper.
We do not live in a comic strip.
I have never felt driven to write about politics before, as I am not active in this arena. I prefer to write about things I know or have experienced. Still, the endless lies I am reading or politicians merely saying the opposite of their opponent is terrifying. We are facing many critical events in the world. I want to believe that the people who lead us are trying to do the best for the people they represent. I want to believe they are not just doing the best for their career.
Don’t create cartoon ‘baddies’ for us to hate just so you can come out as the hero, this is not what our world needs right now. We need care, empathy and a passion to do the right thing. We need great leaders who are not two-dimensional characters who have a good headline but no substance. We are facing some of the most challenging times in living memory, and I want to believe we will get through this with dignity and respect for others. I want to believe this, I really do.
But I think I am going to be disappointed.
Time for a change, or am I just naïve?
I feel it is time for a change, time to move away from only two options on the voting card, time to move away from being left or right. What is the right thing for each decision? In the UK I sometimes agree with the conservatives and sometimes with labour, I don’t agree with either entirely! And some days I strongly disagree with both.
How can we move forward and get some respect back for our politicians, how can we start to believe those who represent us are doing the best for us? Maybe things will never change, perhaps I am living in a dream world where respect and principles are a thing of the past.
Maybe I am naïve, and this is the way the world has always been, and it will always be this way. But I hope we are not stuck with this type of politics forever.
Jane Edwards is an author of ‘Chronic Illness: Learning to live behind my smile’, about a journey of learning to live with a rare, invisible chronic illness.