Time to unify - 24-05-16
We now know the result of the referendum and a long period of divisive campaigning is finally over.
Two weeks ago on these pages I criticised both sides of the national campaign for misinformation, personal attacks, and general nastiness. The rhetoric had already turned me off, as it had for many others I know.
Over the following week the negative campaigning gained an uncomfortable level of momentum and the airwaves were becoming thick with belligerence. Then, in an instant, one terrible supervening event stopped the juggernaut in its tracks.
The murder of Jo Cox MP.
The personal loss to her family, friends, colleagues and constituents cannot be replaced and I am still coming to terms with it myself, even though I knew her only fleetingly.
But from the darkness of her shocking death, a life of goodness and humanitarian values was revealed and shone so brightly that leaders from around the world were compelled to mourn and to join with us in our national outpouring.
Her championing of equality and diversity, exposing bigotry and racism, combatting hatred and promoting social cohesion flew directly in the face of the xenophobia being stirred up by certain right-wing elements of the referendum campaign.
And her moral compass reminded the nation of the other direction we could take, summarised through the words of her maiden speech; "we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us".
Now that the referendum is behind us I hope that Jo's words will remain at the forefront of the conversation, helping us to reunite and work together for the common good of our nation, our neighbours in Europe and the entire global community. Rest in peace Jo and may your legacy thrive.
Helen's weekly column is published every Friday in the Kent Messenger. The content shown here may differ slightly from the press version.