Visionary (Noun) a person with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.
In 2015, while we were all bumbling around tackling the May election locally in Brighton for the Council and nationally for the general election, I found myself canvassing with our local Green MP, Caroline Lucas, visiting flats for elderly people and those in sheltered accommodation. It was a real eye-opener, because as we went from flat to flat, or sat with hostile groups of potential Tory voters in spotless Patcham community spaces, it became evident that Caroline never paid lip service to her role as MP, she truly cared about people, and empathised with them and their situation in life, more than any councillor or doctor or social person I have yet encountered. Caroline is a true visionary. In one nursing home I remember a young nursing assistant asking her why she became an MP, and she replied simply and unthinkingly “…because I wanted to make a difference”. A month before this visit we had been to a block of flats and met a handful of aged and infirm people who were either curious to meet their MP, or had a genuine issue.
One elderly and very frail gentleman told Caroline that he had real difficulties crossing the road outside the flats, and felt vulnerable and unsafe. So Caroline, with the help of the warden of the flats, asked him to show her the place where he tried to cross the road, so that she could identify the problem. A long time was spent talking about the road, and why it was dangerous. Caroline asked me to photograph the stretch of road under discussion, for under discussion it was – the council had been alerted to this problem on a number of occasions and done nothing about it. A month later we went to visit the nursing home, which was on the other side of the road from the flats where the elderly gentleman lived, and Caroline spotted something that absolutely thrilled her. Miraculously, a pedestrian island had been placed in the middle of the road, enabling those to cross without risk to life and limb, and Caroline had made it happen. She was utterly delighted, delighted at the idea that those frail and good people could now cross the road, and so happy that she had helped to improve their lives.
It’s a small issue, but important, and it says so much about our MP. A visionary is described as ‘a person with original ideas’ but it’s so much more than that. In my view it’s also somebody who has the insight into another’s life, imagining what it’s like to be in their shoes… and it’s yet more than that… it’s somebody who can see the bigger picture, the ailments and sorrow of a planet, a world with exquisite seas polluted by plastics, chemical substances, hormones and toxic filth – it’s somebody who has a passionate love for nature, plants, trees, animals, fish and birds distressed by heat, pollutants and pesticides, somebody who cares about air quality, children in poverty, and human lives horribly distressed in places of war, constantly strafed by weapons manufactured in this country. It is somebody who can see far and wide, into the now and the future, and has the will and the foresight to want to bring about change, and does so… just as she did when she was invited to the Armaments Exhibition, and used the opportunity to stop the public sale of illegal cluster bombs. This is a mind and a spirit that can see the consequences of fracking, the problems of a society unable to tackle illegal drugs, the difficulties of young people, old people – just about all people and the beautiful planet we all occupy. This is what being a visionary is all about.