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Jo Cox’s legacy of love needs spreading, more than ever

PUBLISHED: 13:18 15 June 2017

Legacy of caring: In January the Jo Cox Foundation - pictured are Jo's widower Brendan Cox and her sister Kim Leadbeater - launched a commission in her memory to tackle the

Legacy of caring: In January the Jo Cox Foundation - pictured are Jo's widower Brendan Cox and her sister Kim Leadbeater - launched a commission in her memory to tackle the "silent epidemic" of loneliness. Picture: Paul Grover /Jo Cox Foundation/PA Wire

Paul Grover

Jo Cox’s legacy is still struggling to reach the bullies and the angry of our society.

It’s a year tomorrow since mother-of-two Jo Cox was slaughtered in the street doing the job she loved.

There can’t be anyone in the country that doesn’t know her name.

No one who doesn’t know that the 41-year-old MP died in broad daylight on a pavement in her constituency, cutting short a catalogue of work trying to make the world a better place.

But few will remember the name of the man who armed himself that morning to go out and take a mother from her children, leaving her husband, parents, sister and friends bereft and bewildered.

Jo’s sister, Kim, says she doesn’t give her sister’s killer, described in court as a right-wing loner, a second thought.

She refuses to waste thoughts and time on him when there’s Jo’s work to continue.

To make good from evil, working with Jo’s husband, Brendan, and hundreds of other people, she has been focusing on continuing the good work Jo had embraced, building her legacy to try to snuff out some of the fear and misunderstanding that can so easily lead to hatred.

Jo’s murder, a week before the Brexit referendum, should have brought change, turning point in political arena increasingly infected by hate, personal attacks and nastiness, exacerbated and spread by social media.

But as Kim, Brendan and their army of supporters have worked together to plan this weekend’s The Great Get Together get together in Jo’s memory – a weekend of events to remind us that we have more in common that divides us - we’ve just been through one of the nastiest election campaigns of our time.

Sharp clever political rhetoric has been lost to vicious personal insults, negative jibes, and pathetic ridicule. It would be called bullying in any other setting.

Some might say people who put themselves up for public office deserve everything they get.

These are the same people quick to call out bullies anywhere else. The hypocrisy in turning a blind eye to the equivalent of nasty playground bullying by those holding office in the seat of government cannot be ignored.

If we’re taking example from the top, how can we fight the bullying, nastiness and temper outbursts, from politics to the workplace, sport to hospitals, on our roads to in our shops even, all regular scenes of anger explosions, personal insults and even threatening behaviour, which have gradually become accepted as part of every day life?

Grown adults having temper tantrums, feeling perfectly justified to scream abuse at whoever has annoyed them, got in their way or merely tried to enforce a rule or policy, simply doing their job, has crept into every day life.

If people feel provoked they believe they’re entitled to kick off.

Jo’s family are trying to change this attitude by focusing on how most people are actually really good and very kind. Which, of course, they are.

But there are always those who, believe shouting, insulting and causing a scene, just like a tantruming toddler, will secure their own way.

This week Ryanair kicked a passenger off a flight after his three-minute out-of-control tirade made a check-in agent cry – because of his own mistake. He’d failed to print his boarding pass so was asked to pay $50. Standard practice.

Like a two-year-old told he couldn’t have sweets, he ranted and raved at the woman. Admit he was wrong? No way. It was all the airline’s fault, despite the rules being spelled out and every other passenger on the flight had followed simple instructions.

You see it all the time. Over-reactions accelerating to anger leading often to very personal attacks because something simply doesn’t go their way.

If Jo’s death taught us anything, it should be for tolerance, peace and working together, controlling anger and channelling it into something positive. Treating each other with respect, however much we might disagree.

This weekend of get-togethers in her memory isn’t a gimmick.

It comes out of grief, of loss for someone who believed in the good of human nature and did what she could in her 41 years to draw it out.

The events serve to remind us about self-control, generous spirit and supporting each other for a gentle more big-hearted and caring world - and how two tiny children lost a mother working to achieve it.

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