Several of my New Year Resolutions are already on a shoogly peg, not least about my health and fitness. No surprise there! There is, however, one resolution that I am determined to keep. Despite my fears about the impact of Brexit and deep concern about the unpredictability and lack of self-awareness of the next incumbent of the Oval Office I refuse to become despondent at the outlook for the coming year.
There is no doubt that in an increasingly uncertain world, an unclear economic path and an unstable leader of the world’s superpower are very dangerous additions to the political mix. But to respond with despondency is not the answer, nor is trying to stop what people have voted for. The Brexit vote shouldn’t be overturned because to do so would cause even greater political conflict about what we mean by democracy here in Britain. On January 20, the era of President Trump will begin because that is the will of the American people (at least according to the electoral college model of democracy). Any other outcome would cause a constitutional crisis of gargantuan proportions.
The people who will lose most by the coming political and economic upheaval are those who already have the least and especially those who feel most excluded, most disconnected from the people who make decisions about their lives. That makes me angry and I will do everything I can to ensure that their voices are heard loud and clear by those whose decisions make their lives worse. Their voices will be the bedrock upon which the change we need will be built. My belief that the change we need will one day come is part of what will keep me from becoming despondent this coming year.
The other thing that will keep me from despondency is a movement I have seen grow over the years but which seemed to shift up a gear this festive period, a movement to share what we have with those who have less. Christmas meals, food hampers, toys for children, reverse advent trees, donations of money and time, and much more were given in what seemed greater amounts this year. But more than that, there seemed to be a shift in attitude. These were acts of generosity less about benevolence to the poor and more about reaching out to fellow human beings. It felt like, just a little, that some of the stigma of exclusion and homelessness was being removed. As one CEO put it to me: “Everyone needs a second chance and to know they matter too.” If that movement can be nurtured and encouraged then there really is hope for us all – no matter what democracy brings.
Ewan Aitken is CEO of Cyrenians