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Lion Hearted Diversity

Dear Friend

Lion Hearted Love of Diversity
Diversity - the art of thinking independently together - Malcolm Forbes 
Since I last blogged, the world feels a different place. An MP who stood for tolerance and inclusion has been murdered and the UK has voted for Brexit on the basis of false and frightening promises which have unleashed a wave of racist hate crime. A domino wave of separatism has been triggered as France, Scotland and even some Londoners are now considering independence. Politicians are resigning rather than remaining to face the far-reaching socio-economic consequences. Yet despite all of this, many of us remain committed to the daily business of building positive relationships in our families, communities and global family, relationships that honour our independence and our togetherness in vibrant diversity.

Loving Diversity
I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows stifled. I want all the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible - Ghandi

I have always loved diversity and have sought out and been enriched by friends, adventures and artistic experiences of places far-flung from my 'white British' upbringing. I have always felt queasy about waving flags, national anthems and the pomp and paraphernalia of nationalism. So when my father recently traced his DNA and found that our ancestors spanned many continents, I 'came home' again to my feeling that I am not 'British' or any-ish - rather I am a citizen of the world and member of a global family connected by our humanity and shared breath on this diversely beautiful planet.

Diversity, Warts n All
One's own self-worth is tied to the worth of the community to which one belongs, which is intimately connected to humanity in general.  What happens in Darfur becomes an assault on my own community and on me as an individual. That's what the human family is all about.  - Wole Soyinka 

Being part of the human family involves acknowledging the impact of its members behaviour, for better or worse. For me, the dangerously divisive, racist propaganda of Nigel Farage and far-right parties including Britain First is a violent assault on the diversity I hold dear and I will raise my voice to call for accountability in politics and the media. I will also refuse to allow the machinations of madmen divide me from any friends who voted Brexit because difference of opinion is a healthy part of society. The chasm in which we now find ourselves cannot be bridged by further division, nor can the divisions that have been forged be bridged by the whitewash of identity politics. Whilst some people may still hanker after a national identity manipulated by warring politicians for centuries, those of us living in diverse communities are left dressing the wounds it inflicts. The day of the referendum, I alighted at my usual bus stop to find it covered in paper hearts and this poster which reads
'To the people at the bus stop who had racist abuse hurled at them (from a London Highway Van) Big 3>
We are all inevitably impacted by destructive actions but that must not prevent us from responding creatively with a vision of a more loving world.

Photos: Left: Jason Simms-Davis, Shaniqua Benjamin & Kyle Hylton on Inside Story Radio Show. Right: Croydon Carers Choir
A Legacy of Diversity
It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and strength. - Maya Angelou 
The inspirational young people who came to speak on Inside Story Radio Show the day of the referendum result already know the strength and beauty of their communities. Shaniqua Benjamin has founded Young People Insight, a Forum where young people can come and share their diverse views on themes from careers to knife crime. The two founders of Justified Kings were clear that politics would not be distracting them from their mission of bringing empowering tools, discussions and resources to young people. For today's young people and for their children, we must rise like lions to champion the diversity of our communities.

Joining Together in Creativity
We don't have to agree on anything to be kind to one another - Anon

The humanising effects of the arts reminds us of our connectedness - to sing, paint, draw, dance or garden together does not require us to have the same beliefs, opinions, politics or backgrounds. I relish the peace that comes from singing in harmony with diverse voices. I wish that every political meeting could start with a stilling, connecting practice such as singing and was heartened to read that mindfulness is now being introduced in Parliament.
I invite you to join me at a songful celebration of my 40th Birthday on 23rd July - we'll be sharing songs from around the globe and fundraising for WaterAid projects in the world's poorest communities. Do click here to find out more about WaterLove and help us support the flow of love in our global community.
I will close with the words of beautiful Jo Cox

While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

Wishing you a Lion Hearted July