For change, spread love, not hate
Many of us share a sneaking feeling right now that our leaders are taking Europe in completely the wrong direction. Along with powerful media, some politicians are busy spreading hate and fear, cracking down on peaceful activists, and pointing fingers at minority groups for everything that’s going wrong in our societies.
The only way to protect ourselves and our communities from hate, discrimination, racism and sexism, is to stand up and speak out for what we believe in. And the European elections in May give us a unique opportunity to do just that.
Create a climate for change
The recent #SchoolStrike4Climate marches started by 15-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg have demonstrated that younger people are much more committed to taking radical action to save our planet than the leaders who represent them.
Our politicians need to urgently face the fact that Europe is one of the world’s worst polluters and take decisive action to protect people, and our planet, now. The EU is best placed to lead global action to avoid the looming climate catastrophe.
Young people are already spurring action by organising protests around the world against climate change. Raising our voices and challenging candidates in the European elections to commit to tackling climate change will make the necessary changes, and a better future for all of us, even more likely to happen.
Fight for your freedoms
In societies that are genuinely free and fair, people can protest peacefully, join groups and get organised on issues they believe in.
But right now, some politicians in Europe are working to take away those freedoms. In countries such as France, Greece, Italy, the UK people are being targeted and prosecuted simply for helping those who are on the run from war, poverty and persecution and in Hungary the government has even adopted a law that has made this a crime. In Poland, women have faced violence from far-right extremists just for peacefully protesting against hatred, and the government introduced laws which threaten the independence of the court system.
The European Parliament can challenge our governments when they are directly threatening our freedoms and has a mandate to hold the European Commission and our governments to account when they fail to respect and protect our rights.Those politicians who are using bully tactics to intimidate us and take away our freedoms want us to be silent. It’s a simple strategy: our silence is their power. Voting is a concrete way to make our voices heard and show that we do want our rights upheld.
Stand up for equality
It might seem obvious that we are all born equal, with the same rights. Yet we all know that many of us, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, Roma people, Muslims and other people belonging to racial, ethnic or religious minorities still face discrimination and attacks.
Sexual violence against women is shockingly widespread; and the gender pay gap means women in the EU earn 16% less than men per hour.
We need to let the people in power know that discrimination, violence and hatred has no place in our society. By speaking up, and voting now, you can make sure that the people elected know that you want them to use their 5 years in the European Parliament to make Europe a more equal, tolerant and respectful place to live.
Use your voice, use your vote
The rights we enjoy today only exist because people once fought for them. If you want to be free to be yourself, speak your mind without fear, love whoever you want, and live in a society that leaves no one behind, then now is the time to speak up for what you believe in.
Taking part in a march, a protest, striking, raising your voice on social media, signing petitions, writing to your representatives and voting are all actions that can really make a difference.
Candidates in elections care about what voters think. By raising our voices we can challenge them to commit to policies that protect everyone’s rights and, if elected, we can make sure that those in power stick to their promises.