Sauntering from Churchill to Ghandi without even noticing. What a bleeding heart I am, eh?
From Parliament Square, a week before the 2017 UK General Election, I find myself asking: What happened to progress? And what is the tale we tell ourselves we are part of? What story are we tacitly voting to write into history?
For me, the only vote that feels pointing in the right direction is for The Green Party. Only they are joining up the subplots and fables into the arc we are really all part of. The human-planet story. Everything else is distraction. Cartoons. By facing the fearsome reality we none of us want to look in the eye, we will also be unlocking the future’s possibilities. And voting for who we think we are.
It’s made easier by the impressive performances of the party’s two leaders, Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley. They’ve looked like statesmen compared to almost everyone else. But theatre and personality aside, it’s about what we can keep doing or not, and how honestly a political movement dares to articulate this. Sustainability. Not unicorn promises. The Greens have some of the most fantastical sounding – four-day weeks, Universal Basic Income – but they’re based on realistic ideas of what makes us us – human. The old economic story is collapsing. And this election has been one of the most backwards-looking, unprogressive, isolationary, fiction-peddling, gloomy national conversations in living memory. An abject lack of vision. Leadership. Reality.
On the morning the world is discussing the Tump presidency officially recanting the Paris Climate Accord, our country is choosing whether to hold his hand or not. As though the challenges of a planet shifting its relationship with us can be ignored in favour of ‘safe’ seeming arcane narratives. Who will these stories comfort at bedtime, in the end? And who will have a rude awakening?
Well, I know this. The bigger our fears, the more we must face them – or the deeper they will bury our confidence. The job of leadership is to encourage the confidence of vision. The hope, dare I say it, of a new dawn. Light breaking over the horizon, if only we’ll remove the eye mask to see it.
Here in the potential nightmare of now, I hear a lot of desperate noise and smell a lot of smoke. To deal with the drama and avert a real crisis, I think it’s time we turned the lights on. And looked honestly at how to keep them on.
For a few more thoughts on this sort of thing, watch Momo’s considerations on the morning Article 50 was triggered by the UK government: