As Armistice day and Remembrance Sunday approach, we reflect on how much we owe to those who fought to keep our country free. We should never take for granted the freedoms we enjoy and that so many gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend.
We are so fortunate to enjoy the freedoms we have. Look at the people of Ukraine – fighting to repel Putin’s Russia. Look at what is happening in Israel and in Gaza. Innocent lives are lost as ideology is allowed to triumph over basic humanity.
The world must do better at dealing with these conflicts. This year we celebrate 25 years of the Good Friday agreement which brought an end to Irish nationalist terrorism in this country. That happened because of leadership, determination and a willingness to compromise. The World’s powers must do their best to make that happen wherever conflict occurs.
But none of us should be complacent about the freedoms we enjoy. Over the last month, I have been horrified to see just how the current conflict has fuelled anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Our debates have become too polarised. We need to rediscover compromise and respect in our discourse too. We can disagree respectfully and reach solutions through dialogue. We need to stop casting everyone as villains just because they hold different opinions to ourselves.
The rise of social media has allowed people to be rude and abusive and we see such behaviour cheered rather than condemned. It does not make for a pleasant society. We need to recover good manners and the traditional reserved polite behaviour of the British. Thankfully, we will see a lot of that behaviour on display on Remembrance Sunday. Because whatever the noise we hear says, the quiet majority of the British public is respectful, decent and knows how to behave.