We Dress, We Work, We Win
By Yasmin Jones-Henry
‘Facta Non Verba’ was the slogan inscribed on my school uniform and beneath the school crest of my primary school Buxlow Prep. In addition to my parents leading by example at home, I have literally been conditioned since the age of four to think, believe and act on the basis that action….deeds, will always be more powerful than words.
If you scroll up and take a look at the WorkinFashion logo, the subheading reads: ‘We dress, We work, We win’. These are all calls to action. I am a woman of action. I was raised to think before I speak, to think before I act, but ultimately, if I wanted to be ‘somebody’, my parents, my schools, my teachers all made it crystal clear that I would have to ‘do’ something in order to make my dreams, ambitions and hopes for the future a reality. So here I am, sitting here, writing this – to you: making stuff happen.
Unlike previous posts, this article is less concerned with the ‘dress’ element of the WorkInFashion formula. Today I wish to focus on the ‘work’ and ‘winning’. It may not come as much of a surprise to those of you who know me, but I hate losing. I loathe a loser’s mentality. I waste no time on people who stand by (or remain seated) as they comment, critique and conversate, but ultimately reject the opportunity to act.They are guilty of two things: wasting everybody’s time and using up valuable quantities of the world’s oxygen supply.
That is why as I awoke in horror on Tuesday morning to discover that the news of an explosion that had been reported late Monday evening was in fact a suicide bombing killing 22 innocent victims and injuring more than 50 others, like so many others, I felt sick. I felt fear – a growing fear that this will be a regular occurrence and a feeling of helplessness. What can I do? I thought to myself. These sorts of incidents are almost impossible to detect and even more difficult to prevent, especially if these acts are being carried out by people who were born here, living and working amongst us. What can I do? I thought to myself, again. Like so many others, I opened my instagram and began to scroll.
So many hashtags, so many claims of piety and prayer. I have never been one to imitate and follow a trend simply because it is what everyone else is doing. Neither do I post out of obligation. I am all too wary of the gremlin of Narcissus that hangs on the shoulder of everyone who ventures onto social media platforms these days, so I particularly did not want to fall into that bottomless swamp. In the end, as you will have all seen, I posted the poem and anthem written by Edward Elgar and A.C Benson in 1902. “ Land of hope and glory, Mother of the free/ How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?/ Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set/ God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet. “
Never has a poem been so accurate in summarizing a set of emotions that had yet to crystalize. I could not articulate exactly how I felt that morning, but I know that I felt a sudden need to share some encouragement, to remind people of who we are, and what it is we claim to represent as a nation. Our enemies have declared war on our civilization. They seek to end our way of life and murder our young. I do not wish to engage in any political debate because the time for debate is over.
As the morning progressed, I braced myself for the onslaught of celebrity tweets, posts and filters. As they had done for Paris (#Pray4Paris) and Turkey, and most recently Westminster these acts of terror were met with words, hashtags and filters. While it is perfectly fair and right for people to express their condolences and sympathies in anyway they can, personally I wish the celebrities and those disposed with the time and income, would talk less and do more.
I wrote about this in my second article Abstract Impressions: where I explain that my generation have been sold a lie. As a millennial I have witnessed first hand how my generation have been deceived into believing that world of pixels is a real one. It is not. The reality is, that in the real world of bricks and mortar, guns and violence, a simple hashtag and a heartfelt tweet will do nothing to stem the flow of evil that is claiming the lives of our loved ones. Humanity is under attack and a hashtag just won’t do.
While I was unmoved by the celebrity instagram posts and tweets of solidarity, I was moved by the stories of the people who instead of jumping on moving bandwagons, paused to reach out, into their pockets – or in offering a lending hand to assist the wounded, or support those in need in any way possible. Stories of people offering to help pay for the children’s funerals, providing additional accommodation on the night of the attack, and offering support to the grieving family members who have lost their relatives in this horrendous act of cowardice. These are deeds. Real actions that help real people.
I am aware that some of us may not have the disposable income to offer such grand gestures, but what I suggest is this. Before you next go to ‘post’, tweet or add a hashtag, pause. Ask yourself, ‘is there anything that I can actually do to help?’ If you ask the question ‘What can I do?’ an answer will follow. It doesn’t have to involve money. It could be volunteering time, donating clothes, food, bedding. People praise the digital age and social media for uniting people across terrains. But the truth is, it has become so much easier to press a button than to lend a hand.
We cannot predict when or from which direction the next attack will come. Neither will it be easy to detect an enemy that in most cases does not live in the shadows, but in our own neighbourhoods. What we can do, together as a nation, as a people is revert to doing what we do best…
The quintessentially British saying goes: ‘Keep Calm and Carry On”. That is exactly what we will do. We will keep loving. We will keep on caring. Keep listening. Keep fighting for the values that have kept us free. Keep working together and keep building. Hate destroys. It cannot build or create so it works to dismantle and to tear things down.
Amor Omnia Vincit. Love does conquer all, but this observation is much more than an ancient Latin phrase. The ‘Love’ in that declaration is proactive. It is an imperative. It is a command, a call to action. Love requires participation if it is to work at all. Facta Non Verba – deeds not words.
Britain: the ‘Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free’ built an empire, conquered over a third of the world’s land mass, built infrastructure on all four corners of the Earth and shared it’s philosophy with the world not merely through literature and witty musings but through action. The abolition of the slave trade in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Chartist movement and the Suffragist movements are just a handful of examples that illustrate my point. We are a nation of agitators. We are not designed to sit still.
WorkInFashion was never intended to have geographical ties, but as its founder I can’t help it, I cannot deny that its ethos was inspired by the ethics that underpin what it means to be British. It’s not a race, it’s an ideology: We Dress, We Work, We Win. This is my interpretation, definition and observation of what Brits do best. It is what, as someone who was born and educated by the British system, I have been taught and trained to do. It is what I will keep on doing, it is what we will keep doing together.
Social media is a great way to spread news and information, but it won’t heal the wounds inflicted upon our society. Only we can do that. So let’s put down our phones, roll up our sleeves and get to it. There is work to be done!
Until Next Time…