Honestly. I really tried to avoid writing this post. I don’t want to get sucked into thinking about this any more than I already do. However, the horrors being uncovered in Ukraine brought me to tears this morning. This, on top of Viktor Orbán winning re-election as Prime Minister of Hungary on a platform that looks suspiciously pro-Putin.
OK. Let’s start with Orbán. Orbán was, is, and always will be pro-Orbán. He’ll tell you that Monday is Thursday if he thinks it will win him votes. He’s a raving populist. He seized on Hungarian voters’ fears of war with Russia, and fears of freezing in their own homes and tuned his message to match.
Now. Russia in Ukraine. It’s heinous. Horrible. Disgusting. I still believe that the West should throw its weight behind blowing the invaders out of Ukraine, or directly to hell. I don’t mind which.
However: There, we must stop. Pause.
This binary, polemic dynamic that the world has adopted is nonsense. The demonisation of the opposite side IS the problem, not a reaction to the problem. Take US politics, UK politics, the French election, Covid-19, any number of things, hell, Smith v Rock. Everything is so absolute.
Life is not a football game.
I’ll bet every person reading this disagrees fundamentally with me on something or maybe on everything.
I voted for Brexit. I would vote for a United Europe. I believe that immigration is a positive. I believe that Scotland should remain in the Union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I voted conservative. I am pro-choice when it comes to abortion. I don’t believe that automatic weapons or concealed weapons are an essential part of modern civilian life. I believe in vaccines, but not in mandates. If you want to wear jeans on the golf course - then good for you, I say. I don’t mind babies crying on aeroplanes. Salad with lasagne is a travesty.
Now - as to the most trivial one of all - Smith v Rock. Firstly, I’m certain it was a setup. Secondly, Will Smith should be arrested, charged and convicted of common assault (or the US equivalent.) Rock “not pressing charges” is a red herring. Smith broke the law. Prosecute him. Our freedom depends on there being rules (laws) which apply to all.
Rock’s gag was distasteful and crap, but that’s not illegal.
My views are individual. And nuanced. People, and issues are complicated.
I have friends who passionately believe that Brexit is a disaster. Others loathe the Conservative party. I have Christian friends who find abortion abhorrent. I may even know people who think that Will Smith is a noble knight of chivalry. In actual fact, I think that most people have family and friends in the real world with whom they have many points of difference, but love nevertheless.
Media and algorithms find this difficult. They’ve discovered that the best way to get engagement is through anger, indignation or fury. They want me to HATE people that disagree with me on Brexit, or Scottish Independence. They want people to call me a BABY-KILLER for being pro-choice. Why? Well, to make money, of course. These companies need my attention and engagement to sell ads.
However, it gets more sinister. In the media, mild-mannered, liberal-thinking Democrats in the US sneer at and mock Trump supporters. They call the GOP a death-cult. Mention Brexit on Twitter and brace yourself. Apparently, I’m ill-educated, racist, stupid and evil. In short, the desire to get us engaged makes us more polemic, more absolute. All nuance is lost. On BOTH sides.
I find nothing of merit in Mr Trump. However, to use that as justification to vilify and disregard the views of, give or take, half of the voting population of the USA is as intelligent as vilifying people on the basis of hair colour. It’s stupid.
“Hungary elected Orbán, therefore they are pro-Russia!” Nonsense. Ask any Hungarian about 1956 and listen awhile.
“Russia is supporting Putin! They must all be evil.” Poppycock. There’s a 145 million of them. More than 144 million of those are just trying to get by, like the rest of us.
Putin needs to be forced out of Ukraine. Militarily if necessary. Those responsible for war crimes must be held accountable, and that is not going to be easy, but we must stick to the task.
Our freedom depends on there being rules (laws) which apply to all.
Meanwhile, we need to catch hold of ourselves. Let’s disagree. Let’s debate, but let’s not make sweeping generalisations, and pigeon-hole people.
“Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu.)
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