By Jess McGuire
It’s not polite to discuss politics at the dinner table. It often turns sour.
But sometimes rules are broken and we’re forced by sadness to talk about those things we hoped we’d never have to discuss.
On Thursday afternoon Jo Cox, a labour MP, was shot and stabbed in her own constituency and hometown. It was one of those moments that I accidentally caught on the news but spent the rest of the evening completely absorbed by. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from it. First of all, I couldn’t believe it had happened to someone who was guilty of nothing other than doing her job and doing it well, too. Second of all, it happened right on my doorstep.
It was a life taken too soon. Again.
Cox was a woman that represented so many of things that we need to counter all the terror in the world. The act of looking after the most vulnerable, giving a voice to the oppressed, and fighting for something better. She believed women had a bigger place in public decisions and understood there was a need to better establish their place in society. She believed in looking after the next generation and valued the importance of early years education. She knew that everyone deserved the same basic human rights.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, said, “Jo Cox had a lifelong record of public service and deep commitment to humanity… She was dedicated to getting us to live up to our promise to support the developing world and strengthen human rights.”
When you listened to her speak, it felt honest. She felt relatable, which is something not often said about our MPs. We needed her. We needed someone who bridged the gap between us and them, between here and there. Her life was taken while doing a job to benefit the town she grew up in, a town she was trying to breathe strength back into. She understood and nurtured the problems her constituency brought to her in hopes of weaving some good, even if only a small amount, into the fabric of Westminster and British politics.
The country’s reaction has been one of both adoration and grief. Politicians set aside their campaigning for the EU referendum and allowed themselves to grieve the loss of a well-liked fellow politician. Vigils are being held up and down the country in her honor. More and more people are speaking out against acts of hatred like this one.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of watching the news with my hand over my mouth and my heart in my stomach. I’m sad and scared for the world we live in but there’s something beautiful that always turns up in the aftermath. People rally together to support each other, to send condolences and messages of support. They put their arms around each other and tell stories of hope and strength. As is always the case after something this heart-breaking happens, I’m so proud of how everyone has come together, how everyone has united a front against disgusting acts of violence like this one.
I’m astounded at the strength of everyone.
And to anyone that has been caught by the waves of this irrational, unforgiving ocean of terror and mindlessness, just know that we always stand with you.
We stand with you.