A sad day for our democracy
When I read earlier today that a member of the UK parliament had been attacked, I probably did not read the detail of the story thinking the dust will settle and everything will be fine soon.
I got home and was shocked to learn that Jo Cox MP for Batley and Spen in Yorkshire had died of injuries sustained from being shot and stabbed just in front of her surgery. This was a mother of two young children who would have turned 42 in just 6 days’ time. [BBC News]
The tributes that have poured out in sympathy and recognition of this amazing young woman who has had a lifetime career of fighting causes for the poor, the needy, the enslaved, the refugee and many other powerless and exploited makes her in the one year of her parliamentary representation a glowing example of our democracy and her appreciation of the privilege and responsibility her constituency placed on her to fight their cause.
She died in the line of duty, doing the fundamentals of constituency representation, meeting people, tackling issues and putting forward her embracing worldview when she was attacked.
A better world
Now, it is suggested her attacker who presumably is a loner who kept himself to himself but loved gardening said some words as he assailed her and wounded a couple of other bystanders, we may never fully understand why he chose to harm and kill this woman regardless of whatever strength of feeling and animus he had towards her.
In her maiden speech in the House of Commons made on the 3rd of June 2015, as she spoke of the diversity of the constituency she represented, she made a very profound statement, “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”
Her widowed husband, Brendan Cox released a statement that included, “Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.” [BBC News]
Tone it down
Now, MPs do face aggression and some have suffered physical attacks though it’s been about 25 years since an MP died as a result of such an attack.
We must reflect on what is becoming of our democracy, the disagreements leading to disagreeableness and egged on by rhetoric that would inspire some to violence. The use of otherness, separateness, division to accentuate difference and pitch our common humanity against each other for political gain.
The demonization of allies, partners, friends, neighbours, communities, religions, beliefs, of Brussels, of Europe, of foreigners, of immigrants, of countries and so on as we have seen in the recent London mayoral elections and the current #BREXIT debates. All this exacerbates the tendency to harm others in word and in deed. When we denigrate anyone of us, we create a negative atmosphere that registers with our basest instincts and it encourages the less disciplined amongst us to atrocious and heinous acts.
Leveraging fear and loathing towards professing a kind of exceptionalism and an incipient superiority complex in relation to equal participants in a wider regional bloc that always requires persuasion, debate, compromise and consensus to achieve common goals and ends to the benefit of all of us.
Her enduring legacy
Jo Cox in her short life saw a bigger picture, a shared humanity and the passion to speak up for the voiceless, it took her to places of conflict and suffering in the quest to make lives better, she had a big heart and open arms to people regardless of who they were and in the vigil kept for her earlier this evening, we saw how she had earned the respect of all who ever had the opportunity to have an encounter with her.
I did not know Jo Cox until today, but I will never forget her after today, the spirit of what she espoused is what we should all embrace, she was a Europhile, she believed in the European project, she said as much in her maiden speech and it is very possible that this contributed to the attack on her person.
We should when we have a platform understand the responsibility that comes with the ability to make people think or agitate them to mob violence. I would hope each and everyone approaches that responsibility with deep reflection that strengthens the togetherness of our diverse humanity. That is the legacy of Jo Cox, may her gentle soul rest in peace and may her loved ones find strength and fortitude in this unfortunate and deeply sad time of loss.