Life is measured in great moments, seismic shifts in political and social structure that are only often ever truly understood decades after the event. Next week, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will literally send a letter to the European Union to inform them that in two years time, my home intends to remove itself from a political framework that has been part of my existence since childhood. When I voted in June of last year, it was to remain within this framework, but 52% of the people who did the same decided they didn’t like being homogeneous, and wanted again to stand sovereign.
Integrity is a difficult word to grasp in the current climate: on one hand I need to be honest and principled for the sake of two children’s futures. However, I’m living in a country which, like it or not, has been divided almost exactly in half. Left/right, red/blue extreme/tolerant… the list goes on. On the basic day to day level of things however, you’d be hard pressed to see that anything has altered at all. I’m supremely lucky to own a home, have a job and not want for either food or comfort. For all the other people who aren’t those things, life is undeniably the toughest and most brutal it has been for many years. If I am to maintain integrity as my country finally acknowledges it’s post-Brexit status to the World, do I also need to accept that unity is the only way forward?
What concerns most of all right now is the way that truth and facts are being ignored by people who seem to believe that the audience they’re talking to isn’t capable or willing to think for themselves. Integrity has been sacrificed by individuals, organisations who should know better than to try and pretend that our climate isn’t altering for the sake of their profits. They try and assuage the fears that people will be worse off by straight out lying, because the truth has somehow become bad and wrong. Sending people who legitimately work hard and contribute to a multicultural society away because they don’t look or sound like you is not the right answer. Telling me you are a Christian when you refuse to allow women the most basic of bodily rights is never, at any point anywhere, going to be either acceptable when your own basic perceptions can be so outraged by honour and dedication.
Half of the world has lost basic integrity. Many of them, I think, don’t even realise this has happened.
My biggest concern is climate change, a concept the President of the United States seems to believe is some kind of fantasy invented by organisations intent on stifling his family’s long term profits. Half my home town could be under six feet of water just like Evangeline was in 1927 if the polar ice caps keep diminishing: even if we can halt the damage done, there’s some very real and pressing issues with feeding a growing population, millions of whom are now starving or without clean water. These issues are what should really matter, but instead extremism and punishment are the current mantras, as if either of these things are really significant concerns when placed beside the planet we live on. After all, if there’s nowhere on Earth that can sustain life long-term, all those other issues become largely irrelevant anyway. Integrity dictates we should stand united on important issues, yet nobody seems to be able to grasp what really matters any more.
It is therefore really easy to see why cat pictures, memes, stupidity and tackyness are as popular currently as they undoubtedly are: it’s the antidote to serious thinking that everybody needs but no-one will admit they indulge in. It also explains the current obsession with self many people have, that you can at least change what you have direct control over. For me, at least, that focus is as much about having the mental and physical strength to survive whatever the next ten years may now throw at me. Being a minority is going to be a tough gig going forwards: everybody’s going to be fighting each other for the chance to establish a benchmark for integrity using a great many new and interesting definitions. Moral principles, after all can come in a great many different flavours, colours and sizes.
I’m looking forward to next Wednesday because then, finally, everybody gets to move on. We have to hope our Government is capable of doing the job they’ve been told to complete. There’s still hope for the future, right up until the point where everybody else decides you’ve failed. As long as integrity can be maintained? Anything is possible.
Now, all we can do is wait.