The classic 2003 Black Eyed Peas song ‘Where is the Love?’ was one of the stable tunes of my teenage years. 14 years later, it’s made its way back to the top of my playlist.
The UK has suffered some terrible blows recently, from the Westminster and London Bridge attacks to the attack at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester. The bubble of safety has been popped, and the result has been widespread fear, with politicians saying ‘enough is enough’ and Twitter exploding with distasteful tweets. We have never needed to show solidarity more than at this current moment, and yet, we also need to remember that we need to all show it together. I’m not scared of terrorists, I’m not scared of another attack and I’m not going to stop living my life because of it. Terrorism is nothing new, but I am still scared.
I’m scared at how the world has reacted, I’m scared of the ignorance and misinformation which breeds over social media and in the wake of our 2017 general election, and I’m scared about what this country could become. Security concerns have dominated the news in the last 48 hours and they seem to be the main point on the agenda for the rest of the election campaign. Theresa May has used these attacks, attacks where people’s worlds were ruined, for her own political gain blaming ‘the internet’ – no Theresa, the internet is not to blame, ignorance is. Labour has taken a softer approach, but Corbyn doesn’t have the strong personality which gives people hope in uncertain times.
So where does that leave us? Well, I for one have been left wondering where the love has gone. Where has the Britain gone which celebrated multiculturalism and diversity? Where is the Britain which celebrated integration and learning from new cultures? It seems to have been replaced by unknown territory for me and the worst part about it is that those in power are letting it happen. When we have encouraging words of hope from public figures like Sadiq Khan they quickly get shut down by the Donald Trump and Boris Johnson’s of the world. Even though #ImWithSadiq sprang into life on Twitter in response, the number of people backing up Trump and agreeing with Johnson’s affirmation that Trump must have a state visit was incredibly worrying.
Suddenly it’s become ok to be racist again, it’s ok to be Islamophobia and it’s ok to breed hate. We live in a society which happily gives public platforms to figures such as Piers Morgan and Katie Hopkins, both of whom have built their career on hate speech and trying to make others fear minorities.
Yet, the love is still there, albeit under the surface. It is also in these times that we do see small beacons of hope and love shine through. We see people who rushed to help at the scenes of the recent attacks, we see people call for the resignation of those who breed hate and we do find solidarity in comforting each other as was shown by the incredible #OneLove tribute concert. And whilst this election is about a lot of things, let’s not get blind sighted and remember that it’s still about the type of future we want. I think we have lost the love that this country needs, and that worries me. So on Thursday, let’s vote with not hate, but love in our minds.
*Image from Pexels.