Member Takeover: Our Changing and Challenging World
By Iona Gaskell | 05 April 2017
We've had another Member takeover on the blog today - this time we've got David telling us why it's more important than ever for people to take action.
Although David's not a member of a political party he has long been active in the political sphere. A serial online petition-signer and dedicated activist who's been involved with Avaaz and the StrongerIn campaign, he joined More United back in July and has helped us campaign in both Richmond and Stoke-on-Trent. He also runs a Dance and Movement Practice for expression and communication which he says accords with the aims of More United: to bring people together and heal divisions. Here are his reflections on why apathy and fear are our worst enemies.
At the Unite for Europe march last weekend, one of the placards said, ‘I’m British and on a march. It must be important!’: look out world, the British are marching!
I’m not a member of a political party – and, in fact, I’ve voted for all 3 of the main traditional parties at some point. When I campaigned with More United for Sarah Olney in Richmond, most of the people there had never been actively involved actively in politics before and it seemed that if it wasn’t for MU they probably wouldn’t have been there at all. What brought us all out was a keenly felt and much-repeated sense that ‘we must do something.’ That impetus to act is going to serve us crucially over the months and years to come.
2016 felt like a year in which the world didn’t know what it was doing. With 2017 set to be the warmest year on record and spring arriving in the traditionally coldest month of February, how is it possible that we have climate change deniers in some of the most powerful and influential positions on the planet?
Apathy - that great enemy of game-changers - has allowed this to happen. We have been sitting back, and allowing a small group of people to set the agenda.
This is why it is critical that more of us start taking action and making decisions.
The great thing about More United is that it is creating a new way of engaging with people and engaging people with politics. It brings us into politics outside of the traditional party system, focusing on areas of shared values rather than on differences of opinion. I campaigned with MU in both Stoke and in Richmond for candidates from different parts of the political spectrum - without officially supporting either party. I love this about the movement because it represents the antithesis of division. This is unity in practice, not just in theory.
After apathy, our biggest enemy is fear. Change is upon us; it can’t be stopped and this has frightened a lot of people, but we must not be overwhelmed. Change may seem scary but it also heralds a great opportunity – it is a vehicle and we need to drive it.
It’s an opportunity to actually fix the things that are broken and create a more positive society. Nothing can ever be achieved if we believe we’re powerless to change the world. But if we choose to take action then it becomes possible: perhaps not instantly or dramatically, but in tiny, incremental ways that pick up momentum. We must, as Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see.” This is your personal power. We must take action from a place of ownership, of responsibility. We must not disempower ourselves with apathetic thoughts of ‘oh, no, no, it’s not my problem, it doesn’t matter what I think.’
I recently had the honour to be invited to the launch of Integrate UK, a charity that started off as an anti-FGM campaign and is now working to empower young people to participate fully in society. This organisation is another fantastic example of people taking action to be the change. One of their speakers said what he really wanted was to put the ‘United’ back into the United Kingdom – I know that everyone at More United will say amen to that.
Despite our fears, the forces of division have not had it all their own way, as we have seen in Richmond, Stoke, Austria, and Holland. We may yet defeat this rising wave of intolerance, but we must take action. We have a choice: do we allow ourselves to be afraid of change or do we drive it?