Despite the tides of division and sectarianism after Brexit, there have been lots of examples of real community activism that, like Jo Cox MP did, strives and dares for real unity, with a rare cosmic passion which shows up the terrorist void for what it really is; devoid of community spirit, devoid of interest in community, putting nobody first except themselves. A year on we are reminded that friends represent each other. Communities prove that every day.
It is worth reminding ourselves in a darkling world full of terror that the righteous ethic of a
good heart still reverberates more deeply than the crooked slogan dreamt up by any killer. I am proposing to use as a case study an example of real community activism in Southampton by the third age centre, who make outreach to asylum seekers languishing in abysmal detention centres, and who provide wider support resources for the community. These real visions of unity reverberate more deeply than the bells of division. It is a story known to communities up and down Britain.
The Third Age Centre sees itself as a resource to support communities in the local Southampton vicinity. This comes in the form of supporting local charities, community groups and small business start-ups. Moreover, they are engaged in community employment, education and environmental workshops, IT and work training; Language schools. It was in mind of these kinds of ventures that the comment was made that we have more in common than that which divides us. It is a way of saying our differences are cosmetic and superflous when we look deeper in to the communities we live in and find indelible bonds that connect us, transcending language, country, race, party preference. We are human, and so we give. The more we find out and connect, the more we realise we are alike.
The third age centre the umbrella for numerous projects that suport the community socially, educationally and culturally. Running off the kindness of strangers, it is a venture staffed entirely by volunteers. One of their project partners is the Gambia society, created by a group of Gambians and non Gambian alike to foster and create unity amongst Gambians and non-Gambians of West African origin living in UK. Supporting and advising members in times of need, it is a real asset to the communities where it has traction. Inter-cultural unity is much needed in a climate where division sells, and we thank the hard work of these organisations in fostering creative bonds between different communities with a spirit the daily mail could only dream of.
Another project partner for the third age centre is Living With Harmony, which provides music therapy in Winchester. Their music therapies bring benefits for communities both with autism and dementia, and for the elderly, children, teens and families, and people in schools. It is well known from research that such therapies can cut across social isolation and transcend artifical barriers between divided communities. On a personal level I always feel my music comes from, and heals, a wound, and the analogy could be made to the wider community: the music comes from, and heals, a wound. Music speaks to everyone regardless of culture, it is the one thing we have in common above all.
We have a press that speaks the language of division, appealing to divisons and petty prejudices which sell papers, we still have terrorist pressure groups which wave the banner of fragmentation, chaos and tragedy, but we have a public which speaks and sings in the language of peace, coming together in myriad ways to support communities and one another with diverse and complex needs.
That is what I will remember come the anniversary of the Brexit referendum. The public, singing and speaking the language and peace of togetherness, proving the righteous ethic of a good heart reverberates more deeply than anything crooked dreamt up by its killer. We will not be divided. We have more in common, and when I look at my own community, I see no truer word ever spoken.