The murder of Jo Cox resonates across the country. Indeed across the world. Another brutal awakening to the holes in our ‘system’ but perhaps also to our attitude towards those working in public service. As Stephen Kinnock voiced on the BBC this morning, politicians have started to expect acts of hatred and abuse, today exacerbated by social media.
Why is it that it takes a tragedy of this magnitude for us to just say ‘thank you’. Not just in Birstall but in a sudden surge of gratitude for the public service offered by MPs across the country holding weekly and monthly surgeries for their constituents in order to best represent them in Parliament.
Politicians receive criticism and ridicule from everything from fashion sense and personal physique to allegations of dishonesty, lack of integrity and worse. This, to such an extent that the words politics and corruption have in recent years become synonymous.
We see from the footage shown in the last 48 hours joie de vivre and commitment to others in Jo Cox. Why was this constant positive energy not spread wider before the tragedy? How many more are out there working with passion and dedication at the grass roots whose example could be shared to balance if not change the public perception of politics and remind everyone of the service given by our elected representatives? There are 650, constituency MPs it is up to us to recognise and commend the value in each of their contributions.
Harnessing the passion intelligence and sense of public duty in an individual to contribute to the democratic running of our country with the warmth that Jo Cox exuded may seem a rare phenomenon. I don’t know how rare this engaging style is among politicians but I do believe it a special quality to find such warmth and fervour combined with the courage to face the media storm for a financial return offered in triplicate in the private and commercial sectors and without the safe anonymity of the lower profile public sector opportunities. The incentives in themselves are selfless.
Recent studies have taken me to review the concept of ‘self care’. Most significantly the loss of our key responsibility for our own wellbeing as demands from personal ambition and corporate expectation grow. Occasionally the balance is overwhelmed and a loss of perspective characteristic of obsession leads down a dangerous path of addiction. Anyone with experience of addiction will understand the dreadful sacrifices unhappily made.
Those who dedicate so much to their ‘cause’ that they lose sight of the one responsibility they are born with – to look after their marvellous individual body, mind and spirit.
I am in no way suggesting that Jo Cox demonstrated this imbalance. By all accounts she was a hugely talented multi-tasker. Caring for constituents while maintaining a nourishing view on life, a healthy physique and her role as a wife, mother, daughter and sister and friend. I am however referring to another group of people, usually lacking in confidence and rarely recognised for enormous effort put in to work they are passionate about. This group too can be taken for granted without appreciation of sacrifices made from their own lives.
I was led to the phrase – “there comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for those who wouldn’t jump a puddle for you”. Initially these words took on an aggressive tone in my mind but they don’t need to. For those addressing workaholism this phrase underpins an objective reality. Those who aren’t ready to ‘jump a puddle’ are not necessarily bad or uncaring people they may just have a stronger awareness of self-care – even subconsciously. When Charles Darwin recognised the ‘survival of the fittest’ in evolution he conceived the necessity for intelligent humans to put their own lifejacket on before helping others.
We all know those who go far beyond the call of duty in private and/or professional life. Far further than we ourselves are able. These people have passion in swathes whether ambitious to run 100m faster than anyone human before them, to achieve everything asked of them and more in the professional arena – however unrealistic or compromising the tasks required, or – as I believe in the case of Jo Cox – through an unwavering sense of public duty and passion for change. There will be more many more motives behind such behaviours but Grimm’s Fairy Tale of Rumpelstiltskin carries human insight of the Miller’s Daughter committed night after night to spin straw into gold.
The fact is we don’t say thank you. Not to those driven by positive motives or even those driven by an uncompromising need as they strive for ‘betterness’ in all things. We take these people for granted in our society and in some cases even take advantage.
Today is Father’s Day, created as a celebration to honour fathers, celebrate paternal bonds and the influence of fathers in society. Is there place for a day marked out to recognise public service, a passion for duty – public or private and acknowledge the sacrifices made voluntarily or involuntarily?
Campaigning over the EU Referendum has respectfully ceased since Thursday and despite the horrific circumstances it brings with it sanctuary to us all.
With no commercial agenda but a desire to maximise humanity in our corporate, public and private world I propose an annual day of anonymous recognition of those who, for whatever motive, go above and beyond the call of duty and, in memory of Jo Cox, give selfless time and energy to others. A day when political campaigning is paused, politicians stand side-by-side and the country acknowledges those who go out of their way to make our wider world and the individual worlds we live in, a better place.
A day when we recognise oceans crossed by individuals to see others safely around puddles.