Whilst England did not win the Euros, we did make it to the finals for the first time since 2012. Definitely something to celebrate given the recent pandemic and social isolation. Massive credit to our skilled team who are the most diverse team ever and full of fantastic human beings who have such strong social values at their core. Yet another thing for us all to celebrate and be proud of.
Sadly, we have been let down by a minority of our country’s citizens who have not only, as far as I am concerned brought about national shame, humiliation and the destruction of anything worth celebrating about our national sport and the England teams achievement. This is yet another huge blow to our reputation on a global scale. This awful footage from a US sports network is an example of how we are seen on the global stage. Do we really want this to be our legacy and how the world sees us?
Violence is still out of control, racism and prejudice remains rife. Whilst I emphasise that this is a minority of our fellow citizens it is their actions that are being picked up and promoted on a national and global stage, not to mention the fuel it is providing for social media to do its thing and convince those same bigots that their views are worth anything in our modern world and influence our youth.
On this day my heart sinks and I am truly ashamed of some of those who have been shown as representatives of our country, they do not represent us, are not the majority and most certainly have no place in our modern society. This year’s England team have shown us what our modern values are and what we should aspire to and it is terrible to see some of these fans undermining the message their team are trying to instil. Our national sport should have brought us joy, something to really celebrate in these terrible times, yet what has transpired is anything but. Government rhetoric of ‘trusting the British people’ leaves significant doubt in my mind that we can be trusted, and I sadly feel we are all simply children who need a lesson in how to behave.
What is also sad to hear was Josh Denzel’s comment on BBC breakfast this morning about receiving racist abuse via social media from a 17-year-old lad! What are we teaching the next generation? With each generation I would hope that the neanderthal behaviours of prejudice, discrimination and violence would subside and that our knowledge and wisdom would grow, but this seems not to be the case. Can we just blame the parents? Or do we need to look wider at society? The school curriculum is highly focused on exam results. Whilst school teachers try their hardest to support their young people to become well rounded citizens they have far too many restrictions and constrictions on their time. Government agendas and set curriculum must start focusing predomently on producing rounded and enlightened people, not the archaic focus on exams, figuring out the angle of a shape or what ‘X’ is! Teachers must be empowered and given the time to achieve their goals of seeing the kids they teach thrive. We cannot control bad parenting, but we can do our best to correct it.
So, to those who have ruined the football celebrations, I hope you crawl back under the rocks you came from and that the better folk will win through. Brexit does not mean your views and actions are valid. Despite media hype Brexit was not simply a vote on immigration and segregation so leaving the EU does not validate your opinions and mindset. To the Government, you must combat these terrible attitudes through effective education, condemning and prosecuting those who seek to keep us in the dark ages. To those who campaign and enforce your pro-social views. I know you are needed, and I applaud your dedication, and I know you mean well, but sometimes the approach taken, the insistence that your views are the only ones that are relevant, the misdirection of efforts on putting up walls, labelling and defining, they close down conversations, they prevent meaningful exploration of why others think the way they do. You must start listening rather than talking, and not creating a culture of fear for people to show their ignorance. These are invaluable opportunities to educate and must be given the chance to be seen, albeit not accepted. To society we must not stand silently by, we must speak out, we must challenge these people, we must make them understand and feel the same way they make others feel, marginalised and discriminated against, in the hope that they will soon fade into another part of shameful British history. To those who are more socially and morally conscious we need to stop talking and act. This doesn’t need to be organising mass protests. We can simply live by our own values, challenging those who have views which should be consigned to the bin, set an example in ourselves, we have more influence on those around us than we know. WE MUST BE BETTER, I MUST BE BETTER!
Thankfully, charities like ours are offering a solution. Stand Against Violence is working to educate and raise awareness amongst young people to prevent them becoming victims or perpetrators of violence. Working with schools and other youth services we can tackle the contributing factors to violence offering a holistic public health approach to violence prevention. Please get in touch if you want to know more.