Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Time to go back to core values

Tis the Christmas season and all through the country there are trees being decorated, cards being written and mince pies being eaten.

And yet, there is a disturbing lack of the core traditinal values of Christmas in sight - the giving of time and wealth freely, the offering of shelter to those in need, the arrival of hope and peace.

My country is still deeply in the midst of the cuts and cruelty era, the onwards decent into a cold civil war called Brexit, a faltering relationship with the rest of the world. Not that the rest of the world is doing much better with the Christmas values, the USA is testing itself apart thanks to a bigoted, nepotistic, vile wotsit that they somehow have allowed in the White House.

Never before in my life have the concepts of "love thy neighbour" and "peace and goodwill for all mankind" been so missing, so conspicuously absent from society. Even the traditional British values of my childhood have faded away, lost into the cesspool of hatred and selfishness that currently reigns supreme; where is the country that stood up for its continental allies, that created a way of caring for its citizens without thought for wealth or status, that vowed to fight to eridacte poverty and hunger, that worked to succesfuly transition empire states back to independence. I grew up in a part of London where I encountered more languages and accents than football teams, attended a school that took pride in the broken bit of wall at the far end of the playing field - all that was left of the previous school building that was destroyed in the Blitz.

There still come flashes of the old values and spirit when it's needed most: when lives are endangered, when sacrifices must be made of the highest level, people still step forward and are counted. The many will always owe the few more than can ever be repaid and that is the heart of humanity at its best, the willingness to be one of the few.

But even these acts of bravery and courage are being altered, our perception of events is shifting again and as more actions are being tainted by accusations of falsehood and egotism the more we allow ourselves to be manipulated by those driven by selfish desires and hidden agendas.

I want to be the kind of person who's word is believed without the need for evidence, I want to be the kind of person who can trust and believe the word of those closest to me. But the world we are living in has destroyed this, other people's actions have destroyed this.

I try to live my life by the core values of my chosen rugby club Saracens: Humility, Discipline, Honesty and Work Rate. These words are there to guide the club and its supporters, to remind us that we shouldn't expect to win every game, that we must be firm in our good practises, that we need to acknowledge when we weren't good enough and that we need to keep moving forwards at all times.

The recent run of losses has been hard, the ever growing list of injuries a concern, and yet I know that we will find our way through this because I know that my club will hold true to our core values, they will be humble and say that Quins (mainly Danny Care) outplayed them, they will respect that we gave away penalties that cost us, they will admit that it wasn't good enough and that excuses of missing internationals no longer holds water, and they will absolutely work and work and work until they can fix this problem, until they find their mojo again and get back to being the brilliantly cohesive wolfpack family we love.

I buy into the Saracens core values just as I've always bought into the traditional Christmas ones.

And so I look to a star for hope for right now, not the one in my club logo or the one on top of my tree but the one proudly displayed on my Santa red shirt, the one my boys earned in Lyon, the one they never stopped fighting for.

I look to that star as we head to our European weekend needing confidence and belief.

I look to that star as I worry about the future of travelling to Europe and remember why I care so much, the people I've met along the way and the places I've been - Toulon, Llanelli, Salford, Dublin and Edinburgh.

I look to that star and remember last Christmas and the gifts my family gave me to help me get to those games, the promises that were kept, the words that held true.

I look to that star and smile


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