Today we saw an attack on us all.
I was heartbroken this afternoon to hear of the death of Jo Cox at the hands of an arrested assailant who struck as she went about the business of a constituency MP.
My first reaction was rage. That a woman engaged in the duty of democracy, carrying out her role as confirmed by the electorate of the Batley & Spen constituency, would be attacked in such a violent manner is an outrage. Another female victim of male violence, another life laid waste in what appears to be an act of hate. But this was also a shot at democracy and, regardless of any political allegiance you might have, it was an attack on us all. I felt a burning hatred of the patriarchy and its conclusions in violence.
The beauty of the last picture she tweeted – of her, a proud valkyrie with flowing locks holding aloft her “IN” flag, with her two excited young children and her proud husband – is undeniable. This image, set against the news of that same day – English football hooligans ravaging the streets of Lille, Donald Trump continuing to spread his messages of hate in the wake of the horrific Orlando shooting, another deceased establishment paedophile unmasked – is an image of hope in the most womanly of ways.
Jo Cox, if you were not aware, was a 41 year old mother of two and a lifelong campaigner for social justice. She travelled the world in her work for Oxfam, Save the Children and the NSPCC campaigning to support the most vulnerable in conflict and poverty around the world.
In a BBC News obituary Jo Cox was quoted as previously speaking of this work. She said: “I’ve been in some horrific situations – where women have been raped repeatedly in Darfur, I’ve been with child soldiers who have been given a Kalashnikov and kill members of their own family in Uganda.
“In Afghanistan I was talking to elders who were world weary of a lack of sustained attention from their own government and from the international community to stop problems early.
“That’s the thing that all of that experience gave me – if you ignore a problem, it gets worse.”
In her parliamentary role, representing the people of her home town, Jo Cox lived out this experience, campaigning passionately for Syrian refugees in parliament, championing the cause long after calls for aid died out in Westminster.
In an act of the greatest fortitude, her husband Brendan Cox told the world of who his wife was and what she had left behind. He said: “Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love. I and Jo’s friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo.
“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.”
There are lessons here from Jo Cox, a way marker of what is needed in the face of hate. Let’s not focus any more on what the world can do for us. What can we do for the world? How will we make this better, end this hurt. Let us live out the promise that Jo Cox showed in her brief political career. Let us show love, grow love, be love. Let us fight in that most non-violent of ways: affect change, bring solutions to this chaos and disorder in peace, make this world a better place
The patriarchy has had its chance with its systems of control and violence. The time has come for enough to be enough. Let love be the way of a new system – let us strike out as the late Mohammed Ali suggested – let us pay our rent to earth in service to others. Let us raise everyone up, let everyone be loved and live out their truth.
Let there be love.