What kind of country do we want to be?

 

Sometimes there are just no words. The sheer unbearable awfulness of events in West London this week make it hard to focus on anything else.

For now it is all about coming together and helping those people who can be helped and praising the tremendous work of the overstretched, underfunded emergency services and the actions of local communities – surely the best response to those who seek to divide us.

Time and again in response to all these awful events we see the best of people.

There will be a public inquiry into the causes. The anger, already huge, is likely to grow as the long chain of cause and effect and the impact of years of policy decisions and cutbacks targeting the most disadvantaged become clear.

It feels as if the country is stumbling from one catastrophe to another.

We have a Spanish exchange student here this week. I’m not sure she understands too much of what is going on, but she did know about the fire as her class were in London yesterday.

I was worried that her parents might be anxious about her in the light of the recent attacks in London. She seemed relieved when I told her we were not anti-European. I think she was expecting that the whole of the UK was full of Europhobes. That is apparently how we appear abroad.

Yet we still seem to be no closer to having any idea what we want as a result of the referendum. We are absolutely divided and the damage of the referendum and the nastiness after it towards Europeans and others has been done. It will take a tremendous coming together to stop people – people we need – from leaving now. All this division for what?  It is not our neighbours’ fault that we are in the mess we are in.

Anger can only be effective if it is constructively channelled. The community action must be what we take from these awful tragedies. The need to work to make this country a better place for all. This weekend people up and down the country will be coming together in memory of Jo Cox and to emphasise the idea of community. It’s a time to reflect on what kind of a country we want to be.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk. Picture: Wikipedia.





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