How Lewis Hamilton has inspired the entire F1 industry into high-profile support of Black Lives Matter
Everybody loves a cause, don’t they?
It’s a bit like being asked what you stand for - what you’re prepared to stand up and be counted over.
If you support a cause, you have a ready answer to that particular question in something that you have thrown your weight behind.
But how many people have causes that they genuinely support, as opposed to those who claim a cause because it suits them to do so, before dropping them when nobody’s looking anymore?
For the remainder of this year we’ll surely see protestations of belonging to causes as never before – but, sadly, a significant proportion of ‘fair weather’ cause support will be on show too.
Causes come in all shapes, kinds and hues – so what do you subscribe – really subscribe - to? Climate change? Black Lives Matter? Support for the rights of seahorses?
If you want to support a cause but don’t yet have one to claim you could do a lot worse than join somebody else’s petition.
Its positive action because you quite literally sign up as supporter – or a petitioner.
Go to the website www.gov.uk/petition-parliament and you will see listed all the petitions currently put before parliament.
Right now there are slightly less than 11,000 of them, ranging from appeals to let the self-employed be eligible for statutory sick pay during the current pandemic (almost 700,000 supporters), to legal rights for ancient trees (16,243 signatories).
Interestingly, the petition to increase funding for UK adult mental health services has exactly the same number of signatories as that requesting the opening of pet grooming services.
Both have just six signatories. Maybe it’s an awareness thing.
Are any of these petitions less important than others? Certainly - if you ask the petitioners themselves.
Get the support of 100,000 signatures or more and you’re well on the way to a full Commons debate – albeit that there’s no guarantee that it’ll happen. Government can reject petitions - its website lists the almost 10,000 that have fallen in this way already. So there are no certainties in petition creation.
For all that, there is a myriad of causes which we can all consider. We’re not limited to just one cause – or petitions alone. There is the old adage of strength in number, but if you want to go off-piste and proclaim your support for something a little off the beaten track you are perfectly entitled to do so – as is anyone joining whatever crusade you wish to mount. Just make sure its legal first. And be prepared for others to take an opposite view – or perhaps use social media to voice their opposition.
You could, of course, take direct action. It helps to have a global podium from which to do so. Six-time world champion Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton has been highly vocal in his support of the Black Lives Matter campaign, ‘taking the knee’ with a significant proportion of fellow F1 drivers at Sunday’s Grand Prix in Austria and calling out those who didn’t join him. He joined a protest in London and has launched The Hamilton Commission in partnership with The Royal Academy of Engineering to find ways for motorsport to help create opportunities for young black students and improve the sport’s diversity. I suspect he has bounced the entire F1 industry into declaring it’s whole-hearted and high profile support of his stance by simultaneously forcing it to initiate its own campaign. Would it have happened without Hamilton strirring the pot?
Possibly – but it’s proof of the power of personal commitment to a global cause. A rebel without a cause? No.