I guess more than anything, what I love is people. I love our infinity capacity, potential and possibility, the uniqueness of all of us and the equal right we have to make the most of that special difference.
The progressive gamble is huge but simple. It is that if people have enough time, space and support, then they will make predominantly compassionate, and, yes, loving decisions. But it is a gamble. And context is all. My all time number one favourite Thatcher quote is, of course: “economics is the means; the goal is to change the soul”. She knew that institutions could be built or destroyed to make the world in her image – a world that was about self and not society.
My loving gift to you on Valentine’s Day is this piece of advice, which I’m trying to live by: if you want to be a rebel, be kind
Privatisation, council house sales, the big bang, and anti-trade union laws all had a deep motive of social engineering – to promote individualism and spread the power of the market. The commodification of today, Valentine’s Day, is but one example of the success of this strategy. Love is not about time and commitment but what you can spend. Money has become the proxy for too much. It’s not, I don’t think, that Mrs. Thatcher didn’t care – it’s just that she believed you had to be rich first in order to be able to afford to care. That’s why she told the story of the Good Samaritan so many times – charity demanded wealth creation and inequality.
But the Jericho Road, and the poor who lived on it, cannot rely on the whimsy of charity – to be given and withdrawn as the individual sees fit.
My second favourite Thatcher quote is that “Socialism never dies”. She knew we had it in us to be compassionate, caring, and, yes, loving. But to her this was weak and created dependency; as if being dependent on other human beings – which we all are, all the time – was a crime. To me, love and equality go hand-in-hand. When we look into people’s eyes we see not some ‘other’ but a version of ourselves.
The unique potential of all must be enshrined and underpinned in civic, social and economic rights. But such rights won’t last and won’t work without some moral glue that binds us all. That moral glue has to be our love for our fellow human beings – a deep sense of empathy and responsibility for each other.
A better quote than any of Mrs Thatcher’s is this from Martin Luther King: “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be; and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.” So my loving gift to you on Valentine’s Day is this piece of advice, which I’m trying to live by: if you want to be a rebel, be kind.