The world is a political mess. And I am far from qualified to be speaking about it. But, never one to shy away for a topic, here I am. Before I start, I’m not a feminist. I’m not a chauvanist. I’m not a Hillary supporter. I’m not a Trump supporter. And I’m not a total idiot. I’m a common-a-garden, girl-next-door, who likes a bit of respect. Respect for my beliefs. Respect for me. Respect for my family. I don’t expect anyone to “grab me by the pussy.” I would not forgive anyone for defending a rapist. I would like to think that these things don’t need to be said. But it’s a funny old bloody world.
Everyone is talking about it. Everyone has an opinion. People are marching, protesting, celebrating, commiserating, worrying, rejoicing. But so far, no one I know has been indifferent. I’ve lived through some pretty radical political changes. I remember the Berlin Wall coming down. Nelson Mandela being freed. I watched as Maggie Thatcher destroyed industries. I vividly remember the beginning of the Gulf War. And I remember knowing someone when all of those things happened just being indifferent. A little bit “meh”. Not really raising an eyebrow, let alone a sweat. But utter the words Brexit or Trump to anyone these days and there will be opinions. And a variety of them at that.
Maybe it’s my age. Maybe teenage Becky and her teenage friends would be as indifferent to this as the beginning of New Labour. But then, if teenage Becky had known that the lead singer of D:ream was to become Professor Brian Cox, the silver fox, well…I might have formed more of an interest. Maybe in your 30s you just know more people who aren’t as “meh” about things. But I think it’s more than that.
I think we have reached a point in time. A point where politics, whether at home or away, has become almost a parody of itself. It is no longer logical. It’s no longer quiet and unassuming. It’s bizarre, unexpected and in our faces everywhere we go. We are not talking about politicians who lie about expenses here. We are now dealing with politicians who don’t even base their claims on possibilities. We are dealing with MEPs who claim that opting to Brexit would mean millions of pounds being pushed towards the NHS, with no intention of even considering it as a genuine possibility. We are dealing with a president who doesn’t believe in scientific facts. Who’s staff are so far from speaking the truth that they’ve coined the phrase “alternative truth” in order to avoid the hashtag #lyingcockwombles. Thankfully, it turned out #alternative truth was just as funny…
And what of the simple folk? What will come of you and I when all this is playing out? Well, as far as I can see, Facebook is what is happening. Everyone I know has become some sort of armchair based Jeremy Paxman. And it has brought some very interesting questions to the forefront for me. Because, although I feel that everyone is entitled to their beliefs and opinions, I’m not sure that all beliefs and opinions are things I want to look at. While I believe in free speech, I also believe that people have the right not to listen. And moreover not to hear certain speech, particularly when it is full of hatred.
And where I do not expect (or desire) my friends to agree with me on everything, there are some things that I am starting to believe you may need common ground on in order to be friends at all. And it’s a matter I’m still considering very carefully. One thing that I will not budge on is the respect bit. Because I don’t think it needs to be earned. I think it should be dished out to everyone you meet, at all times, until they prove they’re not worthy. If for no other reason than we are all dealing with some pretty big issues. Many of which nobody would ever know about.
So be nice. Be polite. Don’t assume anything due to gender, colour, race, sexuality, religion or anything else. None of those things are a choice (or certainly not initially), largely they are things you are born into. And they may change over time. But they will still not be up for anyone else to debate, judge or take advantage of. Don’t blame world issues on migration or immigration. Be realistic. Be fair. Be understanding. Listen. But most of all, just treat everyone how you’d like to be treated yourself. With compassion. With good grace. And with some god damned respect. It really isn’t too much to ask.