Respect.

As a woman and a human being I believe I deserve respect and I do not get involved with people who don’t treat me with respect. But it seems that everywhere I look now there are women being disrespected in horrible ways. There was Malala being shot in the head for speaking out in the belief that women deserve an education. There are Nigerian schoolgirls being kidnapped because they go to school. There are women being attacked and raped or having acid thrown on them in India for such crimes as refusing to marry someone that they don’t even like.

Now I don’t think for a moment that any of this is particularly new (unfortunately!) but perhaps because of the internet and the impact of social media on the global stage, I think these things are just being noticed more. And so they should be. A world where women face violence, harassment and persecution every day of their lives is not a world I am happy to live in. It is unacceptable that anyone, male or female, should be treated as if they were the dirt beneath someone’s feet. Everybody deserves to have their dignity respected. So don’t ignore any harassment that you receive or think that it doesn’t matter. It does matter because if you don’t speak out then people will think it is acceptable to mistreat you.

And don’t allow other to be bullied either. If you see someone being picked on, don’t do nothing. If you’re afraid to intervene, then go round the corner and call the police. But don’t just walk away. If we want this world to be better than it is today, then we have to make it that way.

The Rise of the Far Right.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemoller

I find it extremely disturbing that in the recent European elections the far right have been gaining votes all over Europe. UKIP in Great Britain and The National Front in France are just two parties that have made gains at the expense of almost all the others. It may just be a blip or a protest vote which will change when the General Election comes in Britain next year but as a historian I can’t help thinking that this is how Hitler started. Someone once said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

If good people give in to apathy then the fanatics win. If you have a vote, use it! Don’t let the fascists triumph! As W.B.Yeats said in the Second Coming, “the best lack all convction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” It is time for good people to be passionate; passionate about protecting our rights, passionate about protecting our freedoms, passionate about helping others to a society that cares about all its members, passionate about seeing that no-one is marginalised or ill-treated because of bigotry.

If we don’t defend the rights of others then who will defend our rights when we most need it?