There is something very special about the British and Irish Lions. Something deeply emotional. Something that makes you feel incredibly proud. Something unique. If you don’t believe me, search for Jim Telfer on YouTube.
We live in an age where community sprit, togetherness and working for a cause bigger than yourself have been unfashionable for some time. Sadly, there has too often been an “i” in team, with individualism winning out over teamwork. As a Tory, I feel partly responsible for that political dogma which has put the individual, choice and competition above everything else. I don’t wish to be misunderstood – I believe in individualism, choice, freedom, competition and the market but I also believe passionately in communities, the positive role the state can play and the need for us to come together for the common good. I do believe there is such a thing as society. I do believe in loving thy neighbour. I believe in the many and not the few.
I didn’t need to see the reaction of the community around Grenfell Tower – a community we lived in for three years – to know it, nor did I need to turn on my TV this morning to watch the British and Irish Lions take on New Zealand to know it – but it helped. Forget the result, remember the jersey and what the jersey means.
The Lions is the perfection antidote to the “it’s all about me” culture which so often pervades our world. It stands tall as a perfect example of how people come together from different countries, backgrounds, philosophies and approaches they can achieve so much for so many. It is the epitome of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Four nations; four flags; four anthems; four people; together as one.
This sense of the dispirit team coming together under a single banner is what makes the Lions so compelling. Like all great teams it has a strong sense of purpose; a shared goal; follows an agreed approach and ethos; respects the individual but knows that without compromise and understanding it will not succeed. The same is true away from the sports field, in our personal lives. I love my wife and daughter beyond words but I love something else a little more. I love what we have built together – our own Lions – our Team Jones. We each have our own needs and interests; we have our own time; our own views and ideas; our own space; but we are a team. We work together every day to ensure we are all happy. We make sure that whatever we do it works towards our shared goal; the goal of a happy, healthy, contented, fulfilled family. One for all and all for one.
This morning, the All Blacks were too good for the Lions – they showed again why they are double world champions. But win, lose or draw, the Lions make me very proud. I am Irish but I am a Lion. Togetherness. Unity. Determination. Teamwork. Respect. Desire. Pride. Sacrifice. Community. Devotion. Love. Support. Selflessness. Honour. Dedication. Passion. Integrity. All the ingredients that make a great team; a winning team; a beautiful family.