Yesterday lunchtime I wrote a short post for The Lifestyle Log, which I collaborate on with three of my very best blogging friends. Slowly worn down by the seemingly relentless tide of grim news in recent months, with the last week alone being bad enough, we had decided to spread a little joy by sharing some good news stories for once; the heartwarming stuff that so often gets lost among the onslaught of terribleness on a daily basis.
Just that morning I had heard about a distressing video, involving moronic England football fans in France apparently taunting refugee children by throwing coins at them to fight over. By the time those same cruel men were celebrating England’s victory over Wales yesterday afternoon, a brave woman who had done nothing but fight for the rights of those unfortunate children, had died at the hands of yet more hatred.
My word, good news is getting hard to come by.
We had been following the story of the attack on Jo Cox in the office at work throughout the afternoon, alongside keeping more than half an eye on the football ourselves. Shocking as it seemed that an MP could be violently assaulted in the middle of the day surrounded by other people, I had never in truth actually heard her name before, wasn’t aware of her work, and assumed that she would pull through anyway.
As the afternoon wore on though, the severity of Jo’s injuries became clear, the fairly obvious political motivation for the attack was being suggested, and person after person who knew her was Tweeting about how wonderful she was. A huge supporter of human rights, committed to her community, a former charity worker, standing up for refugees, vocally behind the Remain campaign – all opinion placed her as a rising star of British politics. Fair, impassioned, enthusiastic. A floating candle on the often murky waters of Westminster.
She was also a mother of two young children.
My heart sank. Strip away all the politics and she was just a normal working mum like the rest of us.
As the news broke after 5pm that Jo had died as a result of the unprovoked attack, I sat in the car at Jake’s nursery, waiting to go in and pick him up after my own day at work, and fought back tears. I am able to protect my boys from the horror going on all around us – they will live in blissful ignorance for as long as possible – but somebody had to tell two little ones yesterday that they were never going to see their mum again, for the only reason that anyone seems to need these days: hatred and fear and suspicion of anything other than their own twisted ideals.
The man who murdered Jo Cox may have had mental health issues, but if the account of him shouting ‘Britain first’ as he attacked her is true, we have the terrifying prospect of vulnerable and impressionable people being brainwashed into a frenzy by the pervasive anti-foreigner rhetoric that has been the focus of so much coverage of late. We can only hope it is an isolated incident.
As I exchanged messages with my fellow mum friends, and saw reaction from other parent bloggers on social media, I felt such an innate sadness at the senseless loss of a good life, changing her family’s future completely. Less than a week after 49 other innocent people were brutally gunned down and killed in a club in Orlando, here we were again.
In the same way that the entire LGBT community immediately united at the loss of so many of their own, I felt we had lost one of our own too. A working mum, not much older than me, with a young family, trying to do right by them and the community and country she served. I could identify with her.
I went into nursery and gave Jake an extra long cuddle.
I fear for the future our children will have, in a world increasingly divided by difference; one where your race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, or any number of things which make us unique, also make us targets for those who would paint one on our backs.
The brave and beautifully eloquent words of Jo Cox’s husband Brendan should be a lesson to us all:
“Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.
“She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisionous.
“Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.”
#LoveWins has been popularly Tweeted since the Orlando attack; yesterday it didn’t feel like it. But look at the outpouring of emotion, the swell of obvious admiration and respect for Jo, and the pure defiance in the face of such hatred, and love might just have a chance.
Rest in peace, Jo. We’ve got this.