Solidarity

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Sometimes it takes stepping away from a situation to really see it clearly, and gain perspective.

I returned from a spell out of the country a couple of days ago, and I have to say it was somewhat of a rude awakening.

Not just because I seem to have gone overnight from summer to winter, so much so that I have resorted to wearing ski wear for being outside, but because of the general energy I feel back in the UK.

Unsurprisingly, the country is on tenterhooks, as we await the results of the most important election of our lifetimes. I can feel the tension, the uncertainty, even the fear about what is going to happen.

More than that, I am looking around and seeing problems I hadn’t been subjected to for a while, and it’s shocking.

On my way back to the UK, I spent a few days in The Netherlands, and the contrast between our two countries was what struck me the most.

You would have thought that we would have shared many commonalities as nations, but it could not have been more different.

The big difference, the one that hit me the most?

There are no homeless people.

There hardly seemed to be any poverty at all.

As I started to question why, it started to become clear.

People seemed to look after each other. Someone having to resort to living on the streets would not be acceptable. Nor people living in poverty. Especially not children.

It’s all about values.

In the Netherlands, they have defined values as a country – freedom, equality and solidarity.

These values result in rights which you may claim, and the Government have a responsibility for making sure they are upheld. However, these values can only be maintained if everyone actively contributes to society.

Participation in society and community is extremely important in the Netherlands.

In a nutshell, everyone contributes, and people look out for each other.

It was the third value that really interested me. Solidarity. I looked up what they had to say about it.

“Citizens are jointly responsible for society. All citizens have the right to a safe living environment, decent housing, fair employment conditions, a minimum working wage, good education and good medical care”.

When I got back to the UK, and engaged in the political debates, I noticed that solidarity is sadly missing.

Statistics show you are more likely to die from poverty and being homeless than from a terrorist attack in the UK. Let that sink in.

Over 700 people last year died on the streets, a 22% increase on the year before, and a number that has been steadily rising since austerity measures were put in place.

An estimated 14.3 million people in the UK are living in poverty.

Out of all the children alive in the UK at the moment, 34% are living in poverty.

Now I don’t know about you, but I find this shameful.

It’s fallen upon charities to take care of people, because our Government has failed us.

The charity I was with last Christmas Day, supporting the homeless in Torbay, reported that at least 3 of the people they had put up in a hotel were now dead.

 

This broke my heart.

Meanwhile, I still hear and read people reeling off the same old headlines, stuck on a loop:

“Boris will get Brexit done!”.

“Yeah, but I can’t stand Corbyn!”.

None of this is important. Solidarity is.

On Thursday 12th December 2019, I will

Solidarity

Sometimes it takes stepping away from a situation to really see it clearly, and gain perspective.

I returned from a spell out of the country a couple of days ago, and I have to say it was somewhat of a rude awakening.

Not just because I seem to have gone overnight from summer to winter, so much so that I have resorted to wearing ski wear for being outside, but because of the general energy I feel back in the UK.

Unsurprisingly, the country is on tenterhooks, as we await the results of the most important election of our lifetimes. I can feel the tension, the uncertainty, even the fear about what is going to happen.

More than that, I am looking around and seeing problems I hadn’t been subjected to for a while, and it’s shocking.

On my way back to the UK, I spent a few days in The Netherlands, and the contrast between our two countries was what struck me the most.

You would have thought that we would have shared many commonalities as nations, but it could not have been more different.

The big difference, the one that hit me the most?

There are no homeless people.

There hardly seemed to be any poverty at all.

As I started to question why, it started to become clear.

People seemed to look after each other. Someone having to resort to living on the streets would not be acceptable. Nor people living in poverty. Especially not children.

It’s all about values.

In the Netherlands, they have defined values as a country – freedom, equality and solidarity.

These values result in rights which you may claim, and the Government have a responsibility for making sure they are upheld. However, these values can only be maintained if everyone actively contributes to society.

Participation in society and community is extremely important in the Netherlands.

In a nutshell, everyone contributes, and people look out for each other.

It was the third value that really interested me. Solidarity. I looked up what they had to say about it.

“Citizens are jointly responsible for society. All citizens have the right to a safe living environment, decent housing, fair employment conditions, a minimum working wage, good education and good medical care”.

When I got back to the UK, and engaged in the political debates, I noticed that solidarity is sadly missing.

Statistics show you are more likely to die from poverty and being homeless than from a terrorist attack in the UK. Let that sink in.

Over 700 people last year died on the streets, a 22% increase on the year before, and a number that has been steadily rising since austerity measures were put in place.

An estimated 14.3 million people in the UK are living in poverty.

Out of all the children alive in the UK at the moment, 34% are living in poverty.

Now I don’t know about you, but I find this shameful.

It’s fallen upon charities to take care of people, because our Government has failed us.

The charity I was with last Christmas Day, supporting the homeless in Torbay, reported that at least 3 of the people they had put up in a hotel were now dead.

This broke my heart.

Meanwhile, I still hear and read people reeling off the same old headlines, stuck on a loop:

“Boris will get Brexit done!”.

“Yeah, but I can’t stand Corbyn!”.

None of this is important. Solidarity is.

On Thursday 12th December 2019, I will be voting for the party who I think best reflects the values within me, including solidarity.

For the many, not the few. It says it all, and what’s more, I believe them.

 

 

 

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