We just had an election in the UK, and the lead up to the election as well as the election results has created intense, angry, divisive opinions. Broadcasters and pundits have spewed negative vitriol and generalisations, newspaper headlines have screamed sensationalist outrage and the electorate have been labelled racist and misogynist if voting one way or ignorant and discriminatory for voting another way.
To be sure, this divisiveness and discourse is not just taking place in the UK. It’s happening in my home country of Canada and continues to take place in the US as well as many countries across the globe.
Anger. Generalisations. Assumptions. Bullying. Divisiveness. Have all become the norm.
It can’t just be that we all have different opinions and are doing the best we can.
It can’t just be that many of us are plugging our noses and looking the other way when heading to the election box because no candidate truly represents what we believe in.
No, apparently, that can’t be the case.
We have to be labelled - racist, misogynistic, ignorant, poorly educated,Uninformed - out of touch Boomer, Gen X’er, Millennial. Left. Right.
I am exhausted by the bitterness and venom that is casually thrown around. And I am drained by all the labelling and judgement.
I am exhausted because I know that I am not those things and I know that innately that none of us are.
I recognise that there will always be a percentage of the population that are the things mentioned above, but I fundamentally believe the vast majority of people are good.
And let me share with you a short story why I fundamentally believe this.
* * *
It’s 11 pm a night, and I am sitting on the London Underground with a friend coming back from seeing Michael Buble in concert. A well-dressed gorgeous guy is sitting across from us. He has his arm around his beautiful girlfriend, and she is snuggled into his chest, resting. There are a couple of older ladies sitting next to my friend and a couple of younger ladies sitting nearby.
The train stops at Earls Court station in West London, and a homeless man gets on. He’s on crutches and has a hospital band around his wrist. I’m guessing he is in his mid 40’s. He’s wearing grey sweatpants, beaten and worn running shoes, a t-shirt and coat. He looks dishevelled. He raises his head slightly towards us and says “Excuse me, please. I am homeless and ever so hungry. Please, can you help me and give me some money”.
All of us reach into our wallets and give him some money, to which he says thank you.
The gentleman then awkwardly takes a seat next to gorgeous guy and as he does so, he both visibly and verbally yelps in pain when he stretches his leg out in from of him. It’s then that I notice that his leg is double the size of his other leg and I can see from where his sweatpants have rolled up, that the skin on his leg is purple.
The gorgeous guy starts talking to him and asks him how much money he is trying to raise that evening. I hear him say £20 to pay for the shelter a few train stops away. My friend who has been observing all this whispers to me There but for the grace of God go I. I remember that I have a £20 note in my wallet and hand it over to him.
He responds by bursting into tears. I am not talking crocodile tears. I am talking full-blown raw, emotional, visceral, primal tears. Between sobs, he says I hate being homeless; I hate having to ask. I really hate being homeless. But there are good people like you people who help me. Thank you.
Gorgeous guy puts his arm around him and cuddles him and offers some encouraging words. His girlfriend sheds a few tears. I have a lump in my throat. Another lady presses a few pound notes into his hand. He continues to cry, and after travelling past a few more train stations, he eventually gets off to go to the shelter.
As much as I believe that this down-and-out gentleman was brought into our train carriage so that we could help him, I also think he was brought into our carriage to remind us that humankind is innately good.
In offering our help, no one asked what political party do you affiliate yourself with? Are you left or right’?. No one judged, labelled, assumed, generalised or bullied. Because at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter and it's not who we are.
Who we are, are fundamentally good people, who are all connected.
Let’s remember that – let’s turn off and tune out the angry rhetoric and remember what we are here for.
To love. To be kind. To be compassionate. To be innately good.
Namaste - the light in me sees the light in you.