We need to talk about freedom from fear

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I worry for my children. Every parent does. I stress the word 'for'. Of course I worry about them too, but that's something different. Worrying for your children is about the situations they will face that are largely beyond their control. Worrying about them is concern for what can, within reason, be controlled.

If I am honest I know previous generations worried for their children too. I can well recall one of my grandmothers declaring when I was quie young that she 'wouldn't have children today' and thinking in response 'thank you, very much'. She was wrong. Maybe I am too. But I do it none the less.

I worry because the impetus towards improvement seems to be waning.

Freedom is not advancing. It is positively and deliberately under attack.

Inequality is increasing, and with it hope goes.

The environment is not looking good, and neoliberal thinking simply wants to deny the fact.

Security is a pre-requisite of a good life. Economically, at the very least, it is in trouble.

Some time ago I said I felt any succesful political movement had to offer freedom from fear - packaged as hope - as the basis for its offering. That meant it had to offer dignity, employment, housing, education, security, healthcare, provision in old age and uncertainty, and - overall - a sense of shared purpose if it was to truly inspire.

Not one of our mainstream parties currently does that. I am not even sure anyone within them has the vision to dream such meta-narratives. Instead we get offered VAT free double glazing and pennies off pints of beer. Underneath, the similarities are more obvious than the differences.

And that's why I worry. As is I hope fairly obvious, my work revolves around a belief that people are of worth, and that this matters whether I know them or not, whether I like them or not, and whether they are my immediate neighbour or not.

At the same time I respect difference, because we all are different.

The inherent conflict between respecting the value in everyone whilst valuing their diversity creates a tension which is, I think constructive. It drives thinking towards mechanisms and structures that can accommodate diversity.

The prevailing narrative in society now - the neoliberal narrative which is alien to the narrative I grew up with - does not do that. It does not respect everyone. It does not value diversity. It is not open to compromise. It is inherently self interested. It does as a result, I think, demean the human spirit.

In the process it does not seek to alleviate fear. In fact, it deliberately promotes it. Fear is the diving force that is used to emphasise difference. It is the mechanism used to induce compliance. It is the process used to promote control.

The result is we have a prevailing political narrative that talks cuts, promotes job insecurity, cannot even tthink of meeting the demand for housing and all whilst saying we cannot afford healthcare and provision for the elderly when we know that this is untrue as the people who could undertake this work are sitting idle instead. It is turning education into a product, and the children subjected to it into outputs. The consequence is people living without dignity and so worried that manipulative politicians seek to direct them one against each other.

That's why I worry for my children. I worry that this is the world they will have to live in.

They may fight it. That will, of course, be their choice.

But what I wish for are those who could explain that there is hope that we can resolve the conflicts within society within the constraints of the world we live in and can deliver the vision we need for a world where people can live without fear.

It's not much to hope for, I think. But it's fundamental to the future. And right now the mainstream is not delivering.