I grew up in the 80s in a mining community in Yorkshire. I played the cornet in the local colliery band. I marched with the Miners when they returned to work defeated, exhausted and broken.

I remember the horrors of the miners strike; seeing grown men who I knew, from our village being dragged bruised, bloody & beaten by police without collar numbers & thrown into arrest vans.

Labelled as ‘The Enemy Within, by a Government pushing an agenda, because the Miner had made the decision to strike in a desperate attempt to save his job & livelihood, while the world looked on.

I remember the men who barricaded themselves inside their homes, living in fear for their lives.

A house near by had metal cages on the doors & windows resembling a prison.

Paint was thrown on the outside, ‘identifying’ the house and the word ‘Scab’ daubed across the walls and windows, because the Miner inside had made the decision NOT to strike in a desperate attempt to save his job & livelihood, while the world looked on.

The narrative was constantly being pushed, the media portrayed ‘the opposing sides as ‘the good & the bad’, ‘the right and the wrong’, the selfish & the brave’ the Picket & The Scab.

Emotions ran high, there was so much at stake for all concerned.

Families & communities were torn apart as a result of the prolonged fight for jobs. Both sides struggled, as they watched their starving children queuing for food outside the makeshift kitchens of the Miners Welfare Clubs.

Friends became Enemies, Brothers lost touch, and like a pebble in a pond, the ripples of anger, mistrust, hurt & betrayal smeared the generations.

Two men with differing views suffering equally – both fighting against each others view. Both fighting for their rights to choose what they believed was the right choice for them.

Neither of them wanted to fight in the first place, that was never their intention; both parties were always just trying to save their jobs & protect their families and their communities from destruction.

This brings to mind another lesson from history; The unofficial Christmas Truce of 1914, when just 5 months into World War One, Soldiers along the western front from both sides, downed their weapons, calling an unofficial truce and enjoying a game of football together on Christmas Day. It suggests to me, that these men were not really enemies. They hadn’t wanted to kill and destroy each other, real hatred doesn’t stop for a game of football. They were both fighting for what they believed in, while being force fed a narrative – and, as is always the case, both side suffer loss in the end.

During the Miners strike, both sides were fearful for the future, and both sides had good reason to be because,  both sides lost everything in the end!

The lessons we should have been learned here is Respect!

Respect for each others opinions, respect for other  peoples rights to choose – even when they make a different choice to ours.

Never to fall for the ‘Us & Them’ narrative and to always remember –

We are not enemies- We are friends,

We are family, We are neighbour’s, We are colleagues, We are community, We are human, We are connected,

May we stay this way!

For my part;

I promised to always respect you and your choices, without question or criticism, without any intent to discourage, influence or override – either overtly or covertly,  regardless of any narrative being pushed.

And I trust that you, likewise will look beyond our differences, and equally respect me and mine.

Peace and Love to you and yours – always.