It’s the day after the horrific murder of Yorkshire MP, Jo Cox, and the stirring up of national feelings of shock about what happened, anger that it could happen here in the UK, concern about what it might be saying about the state of our nation, and, above all, a growing and deeply felt wonder at the emerging picture of an amazing human being, have caught the nation’s breath – even paused the referendum debate.  Shock and sadness is perhaps foremost at the moment.  Anger and acute national self-reflection about the event and what it means for us all is in the atmosphere.  But rising above all is the example we are learning from what’s coming out about the life of this special person, and the response of her husband, Brendan, who identifies the enemy, not as a person or an ideology, but as hate itself.  Hope didn’t die yesterday.  It was just – like a stake dragged across the earth – forced deeper into the ground of our national consciousness, if we have the whit to notice.   And through the horror and tears and testimony of friends, love shines strongly through the whole, sad episode.  Is it too much to hope that this devastating event could be a watershed for something better to emerge?…

In many ways, Jo Cox represents a kind of politics that we don’t see much of.  But it would be grossly unfair to suggest that she is an exception to the rule.  There are many parliamentarians who, like Jo, are there to make a positive difference.  But it is rarely seen enough and masked by our national (media-fed?) negativity about our politicians.  And it is barely seen higher up the echelons of power either.  I’m sure there are good folk ‘up there’ too but all the feints, constraints and institutions of political power seem to mitigate against the common good the higher up you get.  But stepping back from the personal to take in the systemic, there seems to be something fundamentally wrong in the way we do politics in the UK – and, indeed, in the EU and beyond.  This is no time or place to argue the usual polarities about political systems and practices.  It is attitudes that are suddenly under close scrutiny, though different attitudes would lead to different approaches and, I believe, a different and better kind of politics .

My good friend Roger Mitchell has been talking for awhile about how much we need today what he calls a politics of love. This is not some soft, mamby-pamby thing.  Brendon Cox showed how tough love is when instead of turning the pain of the tragic loss of his MP wife on her killer, he said we needed ‘to fight the hate that killed Jo.’  So what do we fight hate with?   Well, what else can we fight hate with but love?   Of course, it means inconveniently and often sacrificially giving of ourselves to others.  It means passion and compassion, listening and understanding, peace activism and non-violence, patience and kindness, wisdom and tolerance, justice and mercy.  Love must be about loving the ‘other’ first, not ourselves, or that’s really just self interest.  It means respecting those you disagree with, overlooking flaws to see the best in others – even if isn’t obvious and hate seems to ‘fill the screen’.  It is a completely alternative and excellent way to come at the problems of our neighbours and the world.

Or to put it another way…

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always perseveres.‘ (New Testament: 1 Corinthians 13)

It seems from all we hear from all sides that the late Jo Cox MP measured up as well as anybody to these love standards.  The best legacy for her would for us all to endeavour to do the same – especially anyone involved in, or even dipping their toes into, politics.  I’m convinced love is the only thing that can pull this world back from the brink and make it flourish again. Love is the far better way.

God bless!