Thoughts on Unity and Forgiveness

As we approach the fateful hour when all British people lose our rights as EU Citizens, and we skulk off to face our bleak future alone, I feel the need to type something. If nothing else it stops me from punching the wall. And I do have some thoughts. They might even make some sense…

Unity and forgiveness are often portrayed as universally good things. The reality is a bit more complicated.

We see many casual and organised attempts to divide us. On Twitter I see people trying to set different religions and denominations against eachother, people trying to set the Atheists against religious people in general and against one religion in particular*, people trying to set binary and non-binary trans people at eachother’s throats, people trying to divide the LGBTQ+ community against all trans people, people trying to lay the groundwork to kick bisexual people out next, people trying to set people of different genders against eachother, people trying to set different ethnic groups against eachother, people trying to set different nationalities against eachother. And of course, somebody is always being cancelled.

Of course, you follow different people on Twitter and you see different things. Maybe you are seeing people trying to set chess players against go players and cancel somebody for playing draughts once. Maybe it is people trying to start a war between vegans and vegetarians, or maybe it is good old fashioned violent football team rivalries? Everybody’s Twitter is different but nobody’s Twitter shows any shortage of nasty arseholes and that isn’t merely an artefact of Twitter.

So… Unity is intrinsically good, right? Well, there is unity and there is unity. There are those who say that we should all “unite” behind a national flag and go out and duff up some other country and they can fuck off. There are those who would like to “unite” the “white race” and there is no limit to how much fucking off they can do. There are those who say that we should all “unite” and work to make Brexit a massive success (which somehow does and does not involve getting rid of all the foreigners) and… Oh! Where did that big, fist sized dent in the wall come from? Why is my hand bleeding again?

Here is how I see the pattern:

  • Bad unity: We people, who we are pretending are all the same, must unite to attack people who are not like us in some respect.
  • Good unity: We people, who are all different, must unite to deal with a real problem that affects us all to varying extents.

Bad unity is about homogeneity, conformity and attacking other people who do not conform to the in-group. Good unity is a about people coming together in diversity to address genuine problems for the common good.

Of course, bad unity will often try to pass itself off as good unity to trick people into joining its ranks. It can put on a good show of fake diversity.** Mostly, however, bad unity hopes to hide by trying to recast people as problems. The Nazis recast Jewish people as “the Jewish question” and now we have hate groups like the “LGB Alliance” desperately trying to recast trans people as “transgenderist vampire ideologues coming for your children, honk woof!” (or whatever their incoherent bullshit is this week) to make it sound like they are addressing a problem and not just attacking people for being who they are.

And so to forgiveness…

I think that the Christians overrate forgiveness but also that a lot of other people underrate it. I believe that forgiveness should be available for people who genuinely change, who acknowledge the harm that they have done and who do what is possible to put it right. I am pretty sick of the idea that “time heals all wounds” when we still live in a world that has yet to recover from the Crusades of almost 1,000 years ago! I certainly do not believe that forgiveness is an automatic right, as if a period of sullen silence followed by a half-arsed apology undoes serious harm and wipes the slate clean.

Thought you were going to go on about Brexit?

Ah, I’d wondered where you had gotten to?

Drinking! Heavily!

You know you really shouldn’t be dri… No. I’m sorry. Its fair enough under the circumstances. What are you drinking anyway?

Cabbage vodka. The Captain makes it himself. He’s got a still hidden in his shed. You want to try some?

Cabbage? Vodka? Um, no. Thanks. I’m fine… No, really.

So… Brexit?

OK. Here is a big list of things that can fuck right off:

  • Calls for us to unite behind Brexit and “make a go of it”
  • Any of that patriotic unity bullshit, particularly if it is designed to guilt trip the Scots
  • The othering of foreigners or anybody else who doesn’t fit their idea of what a “British” person should be
  • Any US trade deal that undermines the NHS
  • Any attempt to roll back workers’ rights
  • Any attempt to reduce consumer protection, environmental laws or food standards
  • Any attempt to repeal or ignore human rights legislation
  • The Union Flag, St George’s Cross and any assorted lions and/or unicorns found loitering about Westminster this evening
  • Pronouncing “England” with three syllables
  • Oh, and the racism. All of the racism. Just all of it!
  • Calls for us remainers to just shut up and accept that we lost

I will never shut up! If being British means anything positive at all, it means that.

“We were always English, and we will always be English, and it’s just because we’re English we’re sticking out for our rights to be Burgundians.”

 – Grocer’s wife, Passport To Pimlico

Forgiveness is open to people who voted for Brexit but not just when they discover that they have destroyed their own futures. They need to acknowledge that they did a bad thing not just a dumb thing. I can accept that they didn’t know at the time but they must accept that they could and should have known at the time. Forgiveness is only open for Brexiteers who were genuinely tricked and only when they accept responsibility for the harm that they have done to others. When they are ready to stop caring only about themselves and to help rebuild our country then I might start to forgive them.

What about the ones who always knew it was bad but did it anyway? The grifters who saw Brexit as a path to money, power or fame/notoriety? Boris, Farage, Banks, Gove, the Tory party in general?

This is a tough one. It requires you to examine the distinction between people who do bad things and actual bad people. Does the concept of “bad people” make any sense? I think it does but I also think it overused. In my view, an actual bad person is one who repeatedly does bad things knowing that they are bad, is aware that this is what they do and does not seek to change that pattern of behaviour. Not many people are like that. It’s a vary rare thing. Do I think that Boris, Farage, Banks etc knew that Brexit was a bad idea? Yes! I definitely do! They acted in 100% deliberate bad faith. They preyed on the ignorant and the gullible. They profited at other people’s expense, like Tories always do, only this time it was so much worse.

So, yeah. They get nothing from me. In theory, I could still forgive them if they could show that they had changed into completely different people but I don’t think that this is actually possible. I don’t believe in Damascene conversions. I have no idea how one could be demonstrated even if it happened.

I am more concerned with the unity we really need to survive the next few years. There are some very dark times ahead and we need everybody to look out for eachother. If people only look out for people who resemble themselves then they will gradually be picked off group by group. We can only survive if we show some real solidarity.


 

* Yeah, you know which one. It’s the one Trump doesn’t like. OK. It’s the one that Trump admits that he doesn’t like.

** Hint: If the only black/gay/female people an organisation has are in the stock photos that they put on their website then that organisation is not diverse and does not care about diversity, only about putting on a show. No, not even if they put the word “Alliance” in their name.

January 31, 2020. #Brexit, Politics, Sensible, Social Media.

3 Comments

  1. serederf replied:

    Luckily I managed to get French nationality last year…

  2. danielrigal replied:

    Congratulations! That’s great news.

  3. Rik replied:

    The scorpion and the frog come to mind when I think of the red wall voting blue. Well, brexit is ‘done’ so I guess they got what they voted for, just left wondering about whether they’ll get stung at some point.

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