I love discussion and debate. The people in my circles are open, thoughtful and curious and we always learn from each others perspective. But public politics are divisive and the separation seems to be getting wider every day. So, for a long time, I have opted to keep my political opinions to within my private circles only.
I don’t want to absorb or add to, the divide and hate in the world. So I choose not to give my unsolicited opinions online and I don’t jump on hashtags to engage in debates with strangers. This is because most of what I see online are keyboard warriors who are committed to misunderstanding or are just wilfully ignorant. It’s futile to waste time and energy on them.
However as national and global events roll on, I’ve found myself becoming angrier and in turn more political. I see a lot wrong with the world and I see a lot of excuses and inaction from those who have the power and influence to make change. As 2022 has progressed, I have found it increasingly difficult to scroll on. Recent events such as the ‘Harry and Meghan’ documentary, or the missed free-kick from Marcus Rashford in the Men’s Football World Cup quarter-finals, have prompted me to log out of social media platforms altogether, so that I don’t have to witness the inevitable hate, ignorance and misinformation that follows in the days immediately afterwards.
It’s becoming impossible to stay quiet though. In October I took action. Placard-in-hand, I joined a large protest in Birmingham organised by the People’s Assembly. The rally filled Victoria Square and when we marched, the crowd ran the full length of New Street. It was a diverse group of people, representing different fractions of current political issues but we were joined by the common sense of dissatisfaction and anger at the unfairness and cruelty that many people are experiencing in the UK today. It felt great to raise my voice and be a part of collective action.
My most recent form of protest was much quieter. I boycotted the World Cup. I love watching international sporting events but I have not seen a single game of this tournament, nor have I engaged in any of the excitement and discussion about it. I am acutely aware that FIFA are not crying into their bulging bank account because I didn’t watch England play. Nor are the authorities in Qatar worrying about my opinions on their human rights record. My boycott will have passed completely unnoticed by anyone but me.
And that’s the point. Sometimes protest is placard waving and sometimes it is just quietly living with integrity and walking your talk when no one else can see. Politics are not something we can interchange depending on where we are and who we’re with. Our politics are who we are. As this year comes to a close I am reflecting, not on my achievements but on how I show up in the world. My aim is to enter 2023 with only one resolution, to embody my personal values in all that I do.