THE BLOG

Corbyn And Changing How We Believe

18/10/2017 12:23 BST | Updated 18/10/2017 12:24 BST
Peter Nicholls / Reuters

Watching the news, regularly checking social media, you'd be forgiven for thinking we're at war. There's so much division, so much aggression (much of it passive aggression, but nevertheless, aggression), so much ranting... and so much noise.

The thing is, that this won't actually be constructive. It might solve some problems, but it will ultimately end up creating new ones down the road.

And why? Because what really creates healthy change won't just be shift in what some people believe, but HOW people believe.

Right now, our culture has a very binary system of belief.

In/Out, Right/Wrong, Labour/Conservative.

Under this binary, this closed-handed, perspective, the underlying message is:

"We're right, we have the moral and/or religious justification for dismissing and making mass-generalisations about any individual who has a different opinion to us, no matter what their individual story.".

We're seeing this played out here in the UK right now. We have a populist, some would say extreme socialist leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who is winning a lot of support, especially amongst the young and disenfranchised. And many of his supporters adopt a very binary view.

Which, to be quite honest, is crazy. I'd put myself in the centre, possibly centre-left of British politics. But a number of Corbynistas have labelled me anything from a closest Conservative (which I take as an insult), to a Blairite traitor, or even part of the establishment conspiring to 'stop the revolution'.

And the irony is, now I find myself supporting a few, either moderated/expanded versions of some policies of all three major parties in the UK. Not just one.

But this hostility from Corbynistas to anyone who even remotely critiques their man or his policies, and the demonising of these people, is in part a consequence of a binary way of believing which only causes division and hatred on all sides - no matter how 'progressive' they label themselves.

The only healthy way forward is to change the view.

We need to change the very lenses through which we see the world.

The way we see things right now, is what I call a closed handed approach. We hold on to our beliefs very tightly. We are right, others are wrong. We don't listen to others stories, because we have the moral high ground.

But actually, the healthy way forward, the way we make genuine progress, is by opening our hands and hearing each others stories. Dropping the stones in our hands and listening to the stories of those who disagree with us.

Because most likely, their stories are way different than the images we've cooked up of who they are.

Stories humanise people. They make them real. Suddenly, they aren't a number on a list, they are person, with story to tell. A human being with real fears, concerns and anxieties about their life and the people they love. And about the consequences of a particular worldview.

Recently I watched a video of a Black Lives Matter protest at a Donald Trump supporters rally in New York this year. And in this video, something amazing happened. The Trump supporters invited the BLM group to come on stage, and share their core message. And as they did, they got genuine cheers and support from several of the Trump-supporting audience. Their message connected with them.

Once the rally had ended, members of the two groups were seen having healthy, constructive conversations, exchanging phone numbers. The mood was positive. There was talk of significant progress being made, and people on both sides saying they'd build foundations of good relationships.

This is what a non-binary world looks like. Where leaders of Black Lives Matter and a Donald Trump supporters group can have conversations, hear each others stories, and build healthy relationships - even if they disagree.

Imagine Corbynistas, Lib Dem and Conservatives voters sitting down together to discuss policy in a healthy, respectful way, all open to learning from each other and expanding their views, not needing to be right.

Imagine a cross-party negotiating team for Brexit from the very beginning, looking at all possible options, including remaining in the EU. Acting in the best interests of the country, not one party.

This is what can happen when we open up our hands, drop our egos and hear each others stories. This is what can happen when we let go of a binary lens of seeing the world, and instead embrace what is often called "non-dual thinking".

Now as we end, let me qualify this. Letting go of a binary approach doesn't mean we let go of our core values.

Racism is wrong, Abuse is wrong. Sexism is wrong. Inequality is wrong. Homophobia is wrong. Prejudice is wrong. White supremacy is wrong. Violence and murder in any form is immoral. Racial and religious intolerance is wrong. And these wrongs, these injustices, and the people who perpetrate them, must be confronted and defeated.

But instead of going to war with people who disagree with us - whether that's politically, religiously or anything else - let's hear their stories.

And maybe together, we can find a positive, healthy, constructive way forward to deal with the very real problems our country and our world faces.