Together, Stronger

That’s the Welsh tagline for the 2016 Euros: Together Stronger. I used the hashtag during both of Wales’ games so far – as well as #BaleYouBeauty – but what we’ve seen in the world in the past few days, weeks and months perhaps shows us something else.

The UK is currently divided, next week we go to the polls to vote whether the UK should leave the European Union.

The USA is coming to a head – Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

There are riots in France amid the European football championships, and gunmen shooting in clubs and at MPs.

Together, Stronger?

It’s been playing on my mind recently: how will this time be looked at in years to come? How will the history books read?

We claim to be a modern nation – accepting and loving of all people – but is fear taking a deeper root in our hearts than we would care to admit?

I read an article in Cosmopolitan magazine. A young white woman in London put on a burqa for 3 days after reading about abuse Muslim women receive. It was a haunting read – she had people approach her and call her a “terrorist b*tch”, tell her to “f**k off out of my country, ISIS b*tch”, had people order their dog to attack her and received many other varied attacks and threats.

We stand tall and say we won’t let the terrorists win – we won’t let them strike terror into our hearts.

I listen to people who support the Brexit campaign – we have too many immigrants, they’re taking our jobs and ruining our lives. How do we know we’re not letting terrorists into the country? Look at France – look at what’s happening. We need to barricade ourselves on our island, we need to take back control.

I’m embarrassed – no, I’m mortified. How can we stand tall? How can we not let the terrorists win? We blame the EU for immigration problems, when most immigrants take jobs we don’t want, they work hard – I’ve seen figures saying that immigrants put more money back into our country than they take out in benefits or NHS. We’re pointing the finger at foreigners and blaming them for our problems.

An MP holding a surgery to listen to her constituents – the people who put her where she is. We don’t know why the man took a gun and a knife out to meet Jo Cox, we just know his intentions, and that he names himself as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”. He left his house to take her life.

#PrayForOrlando trends on Twitter. The largest mass killing on American soil since 9/11. Donald Trump says he intends to close America’s borders. Make the USA great again. He also believes that being gay is wrong. Those 49 souls that were lost – he promotes fear, he admonishes the foreigner.

Together stronger?

Will the history books look back and say that ultimately ISIS had won? They got under everyone’s skin and we turned on each other? We tore ourselves apart from the inside? Because of fear. The fear they put in all of our hearts – in the back of all of our minds. The fear that bred in the shadows, unnoticed until it was too late.

The riots that take place in the streets of France, in the sports stadiums – rioters looking for an excuse to keep kicking an anonymous someone. Turn up for the fight, not the football. In a country that is already on high alert – a country already reeling.

Who are we? What have we become without looking, without noticing?

Astronauts Tim Peake, Tim Kopra and Yuri Malenchenko (British, American, Russian respectively) landed today. After spending 186 days on the International Space Station working together on science experiments and a variety of tasks, as well as living together in very close quarters, landed in Kazakstan this morning (British time – this afternoon local time). They had been successful in their mission and were met by a team of experts from many different countries and nations, coming together to meet these voyagers. The three men, and the space agencies they represent are the example we should be living by.

Should we let fear replace the love we have for one another? Would those 49 people who lost their lives in Orlando want us to spread hate and fear, or would they rather their legacy be love? Would Jo Cox have locked herself in her home if she knew what would happen to her one day, or would she have continued to meet with her constituents and work on their behalf?

We don’t know if there’s someone who has left their house today with the intention of killing us. We don’t know when we will breathe our last breath. How do you want to live out your days: loving your neighbour or living in fear of them?

You might think Brexit is the right choice and you might support Donald Trump, and that’s great – we support freedom of choice, that’s why we get to vote. Just remember that your life is your legacy: it’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.*

 

 

*Batman Begins, in case you think that sounds familiar.

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