(But you should vote anyway!)
We live in uncertain and troubled times. Lies have replaced truth. Insults have replaced discussion. Anger has replaced kindness. Despair has replaced optimism.
There is an election tomorrow in the UK.
This election is more than just a choice between parties, it is a choice between hope and fear. It is a choice between building walls and building bridges. It is a choice between division, hatred and keeping “those people” out, and unity, love and welcoming all.
I hold some hope that the result may not be quite as dire as the predictions suggest, but it isn’t looking good.
Elections are important, of course, and we need to ALL vote, to turn out and to vote out the architects of austerity and the ministers of chaos. But elections are only as good as the system allows, and the current first-past-the-post, winner takes all system is broken.
It offers us a choice between two opposing sides. The whole system is set up to encourage adversarial competition for power, not honest striving together to build a better tomorrow.
Elections encourage people to put their hope in government – either in peddlers of false promises or messianic saviours – to fix things, to save us. To save us, in many cases, from the government.
Vote like your life depends on it because if it doesn’t for you, then know that there are millions of people for whom it does. For the poor, the sick, the immigrants, the LGBTQ+, who holds power and what they will do with that power can be the difference between life and death.
Five more years of inaction and denial on climate change could mean the difference between life and death for us all.
If you want to add some Pagan or magical intention to the election, the Culture Witch on Tumblr has a ritual to invoke a Labour victory, or if you feel less party-aligned, XR Druids, Witches and Pagans have a ritual to light a beacon of hope.
And then, vote.
But don’t expect the government to save us. No, not even if the “good guys” win, which they probably won’t.
Governments are made up of people. People with their own agendas, their own private financial interests, their own ideologies that divide the rest of us into “us” and “them”. People who, often but not always, seek power.
Even those with the best intentions often find themselves stuck by the system. The news cycle and the election cycle are fast, short-term and driven by personality. Real change is slow, long-term and driven by movements.
If “our” side lose tomorrow, we need to keep going.
If they win, we need to keep going.
Whatever happens, we need to keep standing, keep moving. There will be more battles to fight, and then more. There will always be work to be done, and work that we can do, need to do, whether the political powers that be support it or not.
We can all of us, in our small, daily, mundane lives, do some small thing to shift the world a little bit in the direction of better.
If you feel like there’s nothing you can do, start with being kind. The world could do with more of that. This, by the way, includes being kind to yourself. Self-care, as Black feminist thinker Audre Lorde reminds us, is self-preservation and an act of political warfare.
Governments come and go. But together, we can endure.
May the words of the Druid’s Prayer guide us in our actions, for election day and for every day:
Grant, O Spirit, thy protection
And in protection, strength,
And in strength, understanding,
And in understanding, knowledge,
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice,
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it,
And in the love of it, the love of all existences,
And in the love of all existences,
The love of Spirit and of all goodness.