As Brexit and Trump dominate media attention, it is easy to feel dazed by stories ranging from ominous risk to a glorious new world to come. What can we believe?
Our political leanings, prejudices and natural state of optimism – or pessimism – influence, of course, how we interpret the information we are given by others. Additionally, even just a year ago it was much easier to accept as truth what we were told by experts, but now that experts have been proven often to be wrong, particularly relating to Brexit and Donald Trump, and now that fake news has been revealed as pervasive in social and other media, it is natural to question what we hear and even our own beliefs. More examples of falsehood are to come, sweeping away the old comfortable assumptions and unsettling us yet further.
At this time of change, it is right that we accept the possibility that we have been deceived by a layer of societal illusion until now, and that it is good to let it go; it is good, too, that a maverick new president in America already is shaking up convention and challenging attitudes while Britain and the rest of Europe are being forced to examine and re-shape radically an outdated political, economic and social model. The old must be swept away to make way for the new, however uncomfortable it may be and however much we may personally dislike the outcome, or the people who are creating this tide of change.
It helps to be observant without judgment, and not to be afraid of this new, unknown world. Meanwhile, you and I have our own work to do in striving to live life well, and kindly, our aim every day being to do good whenever and wherever we can, for by so doing we can help to achieve a better world for everybody, and to make the new world that is being created wonderful.
Small deeds do so much. I was struck to hear recently that the Queen has, every Sunday for a couple of years, visited her unwell molecatcher both to keep him company and to walk his two dogs for him, since he could not do it himself. He has just died, and it is said that the Queen will adopt his dogs if needed. It was a true act of kindness and goodness, and I suspect there are many other such quiet kindnesses given by her, and never spoken of.
It would be marvellous if everyone, including our politicians and leaders, had the same will to good, for it would make the transition of the world so much easier. Brexit is an opportunity for all those involved to show magnanimity and friendship as a way forward for the greatest good of all is sought. It can be done – and remember, we have a part to play in this, too.