Lately I’ve been feeling a familiar sense of unease in my gut. It feels heavy. It’s getting uncomfortable to ignore it anymore.
These are divisive times.
It seems like it’s hard to speak up and speak out. And it’s hard to be heard.
I really feel the state of crisis and conflict that’s going on on so many levels of society.
I don’t want to feel so powerless. I believe in people power and community and love. Not in the ‘me me me’ world that seems to be so prevalent right now. But where is the connection and community?
Sometimes it’s easier to turn away, or distract myself and numb out. But the issues are still there whether or not we choose to face them. Disconnecting from our humanity feels a foolish choice.
Issues like #metoo, gun crime, Brexit, Trump, Islamophobia, climate change, veganism. So many big topics that require our attention and presence. Instead of openness and dialogue, disconnection with the world at large leads us into echo chambers where we flock together in safety with like-minded people. Other voices aren’t even there or are drowned out.
In Brené Brown’s new book ‘Braving the Wilderness’, she called bullshit on the much-used argument that ‘if you’re not with me you’re against me.’ Or as Darth Vader says to Obi-Wan Kenobi, “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.”
Since when does having an opposing view mean we have to oppose one another?
Why can’t we talk about openly and honestly and from the heart?
Why can’t we own our differences and respect the differences in other people?
Why can’t we see the humanity, the glue that binds us instead of the things that divide us?
Why can’t we demonstrate respect and kindness to all?
Once I became aware of this polarisation, I couldn’t stop seeing it everywhere. In politics, in the newspapers, on social media.
In my work with pregnant women and new mums.
Why can’t we talk about vaccinations? We could respect the difficult decisions that parents need to make for their children. To vaccinate, or delay vaccinations, to have a schedule of vaccinations or not to vaccinate at all. Not punish them with emotive arguments. Or blame them for their choices. Or threaten them.
Why can’t we talk about physiological birth without getting wrapped up in politically correct terminology? Yes all birth is normal, but when we have to shuffle around the issues entirely, we end up saying nothing at all. We need to be able to talk about all types of birth – whether vaginal or caesarean, home birth or medicated. Every experience matters.
Why can’t positive birth stories be shared as well as hearing the hurt and grief from the births that have been difficult or gone awry from the ‘plan’?
Why can’t breastfeeding mothers be supported to breastfeed, whilst also honouring the women who tried and for whatever reason couldn’t or didn’t breastfeed?
We need to remember we are all on the same side.
Caring for a healthier, connected community and the next generation.
We need to be able to talk. To hear one another.
As Rabbi Sacks eloquently said in the Debate on Education at the House of Lords, ‘The world our children inherit tomorrow is born in the schools we build today’. By the same token, we can choose the seeds of hate and separation or compassion and unity.
The time is now. We can choose to speak up and use our voice. We can choose to talk to one another. We can respect one another’s differences.