I’ve been in too many internet arguments where people have attempted to position me by race and religion – thinking that to side with moderate Muslims is to support terrorism, or that voting one way or the other is anti-British and so forth. The logic of us and them, where ‘us’ is defined by some apparent commonality and ‘them’ by some kind of difference that I find irrelevant.
As Brexit brings out the worst in my country in terms of racism, hate, and twisted thinking, I find I too need the language of us and them. I want to draw my lines in the sand.
Us. Co-operative and willing to negotiate, open to diversity and willing to listen. Inclined to get on with our own things, peaceably and feeling no need to ram our beliefs or lifestyles down anyone else’s throat. Perfectly happy to accommodate anyone else who is quietly getting on with their own thing. Absolutely intolerant of hate, violence and any kind of activity largely designed to make other people miserable and/or force them to conform to some spurious standard.
Them: Driven by hate, greed, fear, resentment. Happy to blame vast swathes of people for the actions of the few, but often not willing to take the action that would curtail the violence of the few (see American gun law as a case in point). Unable to bear difference and wanting to hurt, punish or control anyone not like them. Willing to use violence to this end. Happy to see other humans, other life forms and the planet as collateral damage when it comes to seeing their agenda through. Devoid of compassion and empathy. Likely to announce that they live in the real world and that the rest of us are stupid, naive and need to grow up.
This is not about skin colour. It’s not about who you’d like to rub genitals with. It’s not about your religion or the absence of religion. It’s not about whether you are ill, or well, where you were born, what political party you support or anything else of that ilk. It’s about how you treat other humans, other life forms, and whether you want to co-operate for peaceful coexistence with the peaceful coexisters around you, or whether you want to do it the other way.
If your preference is peaceful co-operation, I stand with you, because the rest is just detail.
If you are all about hurting, damaging, disempowering, killing other people, you are my sworn enemy. I will fight you in every way I can think of – with words, and at the ballot box, with action, with any reasonable means at my disposal, and if you pose a real physical danger to someone, I will do whatever I can to stop you by whatever means are at my disposal at the time. And no doubt as I do this, you will wail about your right to free speech, your human rights, and how you are being oppressed, because you’re quick to co-opt the language of decency to protect your indecency.
But the thing is, tolerance is not the key thing for me, co-operation is the key thing, and co-operation is active, discernible. I’m not tolerating anyone in the ‘us’ camp because I don’t need to. I’m co-operating with them. And I’m certainly not going to tolerate the hate-based bullshit and the whinging used to try and justify it.