Game changers and change makers… 

2016 has been relentless. 

In the first 6 months of the year we have seen a host of significant, world changing events, and you often feel that we are living in a year that will be key in a greater global shift. 

The events of 1789 changed the world political landscape – with the French Revolution which would culminate with the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte and in the USA, George Washington and John Adams’ election as the first president and vice president of the nation. 

The years of destruction, from the Civil War and Reconstruction in 1865 and then 1945, which saw the dropping of atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the end of the Second World War undoubtedly left wounds the world is still recovering from, and military technologies and innovations that would shift combat entirely. 

There is the resonance of 1991, the year that saw the historic fall of the USSR. The dismantling of the Soviet Union dictated international relations for years to come, but the shadows continue to be seen amid the tension between Russia and neighboring Ukraine, and Russia and the United States.

And then there are the events of 2001, marked by the tragedy of 9/11. This year kicked off the messy “War on Terror” intended to halt terrorism, which has given rise to a slew of geopolitical alliances and ruptures.

Can it be that 2016 will be written in the history books as of key significance in the future events? 

So far this year: 

North Korea decided to launch a long-range rocket into space violating UN treaties and sparking an international crisis. 

There was a terrorist attack in Brussels, Belgium, in which 32 victims were killed and hundreds injured. Soon after, a suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan, left more than 70 people dead.

The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU which has sparked a cacophony of economic and political uncertainty. In the wake of the ‘Leave’ vote, racist abuse and attacks in Britain increased, creating huge amounts of concern about the underlying tensions and hatred within a diverse nation. Added to this, there were violent clashes between fans take place during Euro 2016 – particularly between English and Russian supporters. 

ISIS continue to inflict horror -they killed 20 foreigners at an upmarket bakery in Gulshan in Bangladesh and further suicide car bombings took place at a shopping district in Baghdad, Iraq, killing up to 300 people.

Race relations in the USA feels like it has gone back 60 years with cases of police brutality towards black people increasing. The age of phone cameras and instant uploading has brought this to the attention of the world – the shooting of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille triggering more angry Black Lives Matter protests  across the country, and retaliation attacks on law enforcement leaving 5 officers dead in Dallas and another two in Baton Rouge 

50 people were killed in a gun attack on an LGBTQ club in Orlando – sparking once more the endless debate on gun laws and ownership in the USA. 

Just days ago, a man drove a truck through a large gathering of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, killing 84 people and injuring 200 more. 

Meanwhile, Turkish military attempted a coup to oust President Erdogan.

And we are only halfway through the year…

Our world seems to be in continual turmoil. It’s a game changer. Lines are being drawn. Spirits are being hardened. It feels like we are living in times of irreversible change. The value of human life has become irrelevant. The deaths of adults and children are seen as collateral damage in both individual and organisations agendas of hate and in full-scale conflicts between nations. 

“There is no honourable way to kill. No gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war except it’s ending.” – Abraham Lincoln

In the midst of these shifting times, it is understandable for people to lose faith. You feel like the world is falling apart around you and humanity’s cruelness and capacity for evil is terrifying. 

And yet, in the midst of this devastation, we see glimpses of humanity’s capacity for love, care, compassion and heroism. 

The change makers…

We see the people running against the tide towards the disaster to help – putting themselves in harms way to save a life. 

We see the protesters standing defiantly against the injustices that plague our world. 

We see communities picking themselves up and getting back to their day-to-day lives – not allowing attacks and threat to impact their peace and community. 

We see people opening their doors in times of crisis, offering a safe place to be when the streets are far from safe. 

We see young women boldly going to school when they risk arrest, attack, and assassination – determined to gain their education and their key to a better future. 

The human brain is hardwired for compassion. We see love in this world – every day. In spite of it all, there is still good in this world – and it’s worth fighting for. 

On transience and infinities…

There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful. – The Fault In Our Stars by John Green 

Recently I’ve been thinking about the way in which people can come in and out of our lives. I, for unexplainable reasons, choose a life that is very transient. I move home, job, even country on a regular basis, rarely staying still for very long – but throwing myself wholeheartedly and headfirst into whatever place I find myself. 

I make friends and have relationships. I make them my home. But, very soon, it is time to say goodbye. Sometimes it’s myself who is leaving…and sometimes it’s the friends or ‘more-thans’ who leave. 

By choosing a life like this, I find myself losing little parts of myself wherever I go and to whoever I love. Each one takes a little piece of me with them – whether they realise it or not. 

And so, there are pieces of me scattered across this world. 

Every so often someone will come into your life who your logical brain knows is another one who will be only there for a short time but your heart knows that they give something much more lasting. Someone who will give you a “little infinity in your numbered days”

Without this transience, we would never have met. Yet, the fact the transience takes you away from them (or vice versa) has the potential to make you angry or resentful. 

It’s a weird juxtaposition. 

But some infinities are bigger than other infinities…and some people are only meant to be there in your life for a brief time. 

These little infinities have brought me precious memories of love, hope and joy. They’ve often brought me back to who I am when I have maybe felt a little lost, restored my confidence, made me believe in myself and in my worth. And I am grateful. 

An open letter to…

Dear racist, ignorant, self-righteous xenophobes who have seen the result of the EU-Referendum vote as a stamp of approval to shout abuse and hate freely both in the streets and from behind their computer screens, 

Over the past few days I have seen endless posts appearing on social media of people, both born and bred UK-citizens, and people who have made the UK their home, speaking of the abuse and hatred that has been directed at them since the result was announced. I have had friends who, having heard and read about such incidents, feeling threatened and scared to walk around their own home town.  

And it’s because of you. 

How dare you think that you are somehow afforded the right to throw hatred out into the world right now? How dare you hijack a democratic process for your own hate-filled agenda? 

While you may be frustrated with the hand that life has dealt you – blaming immigrants and throwing hate out into our world will not change your lot. Hurling racist abuse at people in the street will only result in all that hate being returned to you in some way. These hate-filled diatribes that you throw around like confetti only result in YOUR shame and show the ugliness on your heart and mind. 

Take a moment away from your racist keyboard warrior agenda and, for once in your life, take a look at the facts. 

The UK is a tiny little nation with a rich and diverse history. However, it would be significantly less so if it weren’t for immigration. 

Without immigration, our free at the point of delivery NHS would struggle to exists. According to the General Medical Council, 37 per cent of doctors are foreign born, and 40 per cent of nurses. 

Without immigration, the UK economy would be in even worse condition than it is. Foreign-owned companies only make up one per cent of registered businesses in the UK but account for over one a third of the British economy. 

In a similar vein, almost 40 per cent of food manufacturers are migrants. This means where almost half of food companies receive their food from businesses owned or operated by migrants.

Speaking of food… do you remember the curry crisis of 2012?In 2012, the government announced only the top 5 per cent of the most skilled chefs qualified for admission to the UK, which naturally led to a shortage in chefs in Indian restaurants. Britain’s curry industry stands at between £2.5bn and £3.6bn and a good portion of those businesses are run by Asian entrepreneurs and rely on foreign chefs. Just a little something to remember the next time you go out for a curry…

The next time you complain about taxes, consider this. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has warned that if immigration to Britain was reduced, the government would have to increase taxation just to be able to meet government targets to lower the deficit. 

Even the world of sport is positively impacted by immigration. Foreign players continue to boost England’s football teams, and most recently Riyah Mahrez, an Algerian, won PFA Player of The Year as part of Leicester City’s title winning side. 

People have long sought out the UK as a beacon of hope, safety, and possibility – they often come here by choice but sometimes they have no choice but to run to the UK for refuge. 

You talk about refugees using the word ‘migrant’ – as if, somehow, there was a choice involved – as if there weren’t guns and bombs punctuating their lives with fear and terror. They are running to safety through no fault of their own and we have a human duty to do what we can to help. 

You will NEVER have to endure what some of these refugees have been through because you have had the PRIVILEGE of somehow being born at the latitude and longitude of a peaceful, democratic and safe nation. This privilege of birth does not now, nor will it ever, give you the right to abuse those who were born elsewhere. 

Thousands of people from the UK migrate around the world every year. In fact, 4 million UK citizens currently live and work in other countries and, as one of them, I am thankful for the fact I can travel freely to work in another land, meet new people, engage with different cultures and customs, learn new languages, and see all that the beautiful people of this incredible world have to offer. 

We do not get a choice of where we are born or what we are born into. But we do have a choice in how we handle our circumstances and what we make of it. By handling your own circumstances with hate and ignorance, you are only destroying your own prospects, your own chances, and your own future. Your ignorance closes you off to that incredible world out there and you are all the worse off for it. 

You say ‘England for the English’, ‘Britain for the British’…yet are completely clueless about the diverse cultures that make up Britain. Aside from the fact that the British Isles are made up of 5 nations – culture hubs like Shoreditch, Hackney, Brick Lane and Chinatown only exist because many years ago people brought their experiences and cultures to their new land, shared them, merged them with others, and built a rich, diverse community. 

In fact, no matter how ‘British’ you may think you are, you are a citizen of the world, made up of so many pieces of the hundreds of generations that went before you. I would only ask that you watch this video to see what I am talking about: 

So the next time you are sitting on your Swedish furniture, eating a Chinese or Indian takeaway, and watching your favourite football team, take a moment out of your hypocrisy to educate yourself. Learn from history. Meet and get to know these incredible people and hear their stories. Understand who you are and where you have come from. 

Or remain ignorant.

But, if you do choose to remain ignorant, don’t for one second, think you are supported in your ignorance. You are not. You do not speak for me. You do not speak for the UK and it’s citizens. Your hate will not win. 

With kindness, hope and an unwavering belief in unity,