What do we owe each other?
As human beings, living and breathing for a finite yet infinitesimal period of time, in the ever-expanding void we call space, we all have our dispositions and ambitions, points of view and opinions of difference. We actively love and look for common ground in people to share our experiences and emotions but also feverishly relish to disagree with what or who we consider as the ‘other’ – the other party, the other city, the other team.
But then, we still manage to co-exist and are largely civil – even in these unprecedented times, constantly punctuated by moments of ill-informed leadership. In many ways, nothing makes us more human, than the ability to acknowledge the conviction – of no less fervour – even if it is in direct contradiction to what we stand for and who we stand by. In fact, it is this contradiction – which in turn gives way to tribalism which makes politics and sport, two of the cornerstones of human identity.
And one human being, who happens to live and breathe among us, has once again served a timely reminder to us all as to what can be achieved when we band together and focus our efforts – to cut through these cobwebs of political ideologies and sporting allegiances that impede such uniting forces. It cannot be any more ironic and fitting that the Roy of the Rovers – is a sportsman, even in real life.
Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United and England Forward, who is still remarkably only 22, has shown the good that could come of determined activism even when there really should not have been one, given what he was imploring a democratically elected Government to do, as the country is reeling from the effects of an economic and social standstill, most of which could have been mitigated, had its leaders acted with foresight, not in hindsight.
If democracy was for the people, of the people and by the people – does it really require a 22-year old footballer to take up the mantle of finding a way to feed more than a million vulnerable and underprivileged kids for a few weeks?
What Rashford has done since the lockdown is nothing short of remarkable, and he deserves all the recognition he gets for the number of people he has touched and impacted, using his hard-earned privilege in the noblest way possible – even when he is least expected to. Against the backdrop of elected representatives shirking away from basic duties, utterly incapable of self-introspection, footballers led by Rashford’s heroics have all stepped up and made a difference in different ways, in these last few testing months.
After 6 days of coordinated and sustained pressure, the game was won – and Rashford has delivered a trophy which is more important than anything he will ever win with his club or country. He has just made sure a million kids had one less thing to worry about in the summer, as they navigate through one of the most important phases of their lives. Marcus has just made sure a million kids did not suffer the same plight that he would have himself, had his neighbourhood in Wythenshawe not done for him, what the 22-year old did this week to a million other kids of today.
I ask again. What do we owe each other? If not basic human rights.