Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Learning a language of hate

Today is my last day in the office until January 5th. It has become something of a ritual for me to take the first day back to work after the new year off - it feels like a sneaky duvet day. As usual on the last day in my office I have the inevitable cold which as my lovely mother would say is because 'you've been burning the candle at both ends': and she is right I have. In recent weeks I have set myself ridiculous false deadlines (again) and been out far too many nights in a row to meet up with friends and colleagues (again). It has, however, been fun.

Last night I went for supper with some friends and we had a really interesting discussion about the changing way we are using communication and concluded rightly or wrongly that across the generations we have started to express 'hate' more and more openly - lets use X factor as an example - how many times did you hear people say or write on twitter and facebook I 'hate' one or more of the finalists? Hatred moving easily from person to person as the finalists whittled down. Lots of people denounced as rubbish - mostly because we don't like them, not because they were rubbish (ok lets be honest sometimes it wasn't good); and then being jubilant when they get knocked out of the competition (track facebook comments at the time that Katie Waissel or One Direction were knocked out for example). Wouldn't it be better to say who we did like and who we did want to win, rather than who we 'hate', think is 'rubbish' and want to be knocked out?

If we learn to express dislike as 'hate' easily and can want to see people fail, there are at least two challenges. First we need tough, resilient children who can shrug off 'hate' and succeed even if others do not want them to. Second we need to start talking about what 'hating' really means so it doesn't become the new way of being happy. If anything we dislike or disagree with becomes a target for 'hate' we will struggle to be genuinely happy and to develop young citizens who respect differences and want to see people succeed. We still have a culture in which bullying is rife in schools; and prejudice and discrimination is an everyday reality for so many children. Learning a language and easy expression of 'hate' cannot be a good thing.

So to end 2010 with some loving....it has been quite a year at Brook - the Network of Brook charities decided to become one organisation that will launch in 2011, new contracts, Care Quality Commission registration, new campaigns, publications, conferences, seminars, uncertainty about future funding, young people working full time in the national office, the launch of the worlds first contraception decision tool in partnership with FPA, education, clinical and support services delivered week in week out to thousands of young people, information over the telephone and the web etc etc. And I am immensely proud of everything that staff and volunteers including trustees across the Brook Network have achieved - even if they didn't always do it my way!

Working year of 2010, over and out.

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