It is safe to say that in 2017, politics has taken a decisive turn. In the western world at least. The Trump presidency and Brexit are at the heart of political debates across the world. Or, as some may say, the lack of heart.
In a world that has spent millennia progressing divisional views but encouraging a difference of opinion, a new age of political authority returns us once again to a world of mixed messages.
In the beginning of this millennium, I like to believe that the human race has progressed beyond fathomable belief in terms of human rights. Or, the other preferable terminology of: controversial issues. LGBT rights, women’s rights, racial rights, religious rights, the list goes on. Allow me to refer you to The Human Rights Act (1998) if you are unfamiliar with these entitlements. I myself shall admit that I had not read them until recently. But, pause for a second. Less than 20 years ago, these rights were not a matter of law. I am older than this legislation.
In less than two decades we have seen a black president of the United States, the legalisation of same-sex marriage in countries such as Britain and women’s suffrage extended to countries such as Saudi Arabia (2015) . These facts are only the surface images, a scratch on the vinyl cover of political life. There are little things everywhere. For example, Britain’s plan to build monuments of pioneering women as described in the Guardian. A welcome little light in a world praying for progress. Despite the wars, the social upset, cultural division, we, the human race have progressed. I would like to put the emphasis on the ‘we’ here. We as a family, a community, a country, a continent, a world. We is us. And us is the unity that pushes progress. Yet, in 2017, controversial issues that, ultimately should not be labelled as controversial, are fore-fronting our policies again and causing division again. As is the story of history. Immigration, economy, fear.
Opinion is opinion. It is not fact, it is not logic, it is belief. I believe that President Donald J. Trump believes that his executive orders are protecting his country and his people. However, I also believe that his executive orders are wrong. True, we should not meddle in the affairs of foreign entities. The people of the United States elected a leader, their leader is enacting his policies for which he was elected. What is it of the humble 20-something British woman on an unknown blog to question American political policies?
But that is exactly how the human race progresses.
For example, in the mid-seventeenth century, the British voyaged to Africa, traded goods for captured Africans, imprisoned them, sailed them away from their homeland where different people then violated them, tortured them, humiliated them and continued to do so to benefit their economy and their country. Yet, perhaps at the expense of their own humanity.
But, one day, someone, said: ‘I don’t agree. This is wrong.’
It could’ve been a commander in the East India Company in the comfort of his London office; a lord’s son from Hertfordshire as he sailed to his father’s plantation in the Caribbean; or a humble fisherman’s daughter commenting in the wind as slaves were discarded on the docks. But someone, somewhere, said it. And by 1833, the British government had passed the Slavery Abolition Act, outlawing the slave trade and slavery throughout the British Empire. It started with the people, when they weren’t heard, like-minded people formed the Anti-Slavery Society, and that society reached out and was heard by more influential and powerful people until it became a national movement, and the law no longer just heard, it listened.
Art forwarded the movement. From ex-slaver John Newton’s lyrical bout: Amazing Grace, to William Cowper’s poetic verses. Change begins with the people, with the written word, or hum of a song. It is not only our right to be involved in the debate, it is our duty to be involved. We need to protect global citizens, to comment on acts that isolate and target them. As Martin Niemoller implies in his iconic poem ‘First They Came for the Socialists…’, we need ‘to speak out’ for one another because there is no ‘them’ or ‘me’; there is only ‘we’. So, like millions around the world already have in regards to Trump’s executive orders, I will also say it.
President Trump, you speak of ‘bad’ and ‘bans’ and tell women how to treat their bodies. You build walls and yell ‘fake news’. You tell the arts they don’t matter and tell science to keep quiet. You lie and discriminate. You tell Muslims they are violent but do not know where violence stems from. You say which religions are right, but disobey your own God. ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’and’blessed be the peacemakers’, yet you refuse sanctuary to the blameless and lie foundations for war. You are a man – a white, wealthy, heterosexual, able, Christian man and you make people suffer. I don’t agree. This is wrong.
My opinion may be worthless to many, particularly to the current American President. But it is not worthless to me. I would like to say something to President Donald J. Trump. I would like to tell him that human lives are not unimportant or unwanted or unworthy if they are not like his own. I would like to tell him: that though these words are not the words you express, they are the message you encourage. A message that drives people to believe in them at the sacrifice of innocents.
As a humble little songbird in the back of a British garden, I implore you to think of the messages you are destroying and the movements you are creating. I ask you: please stop.