Shirkers v strivers, immigrants are after our benefits, politicians are self serving and useless, bankers are greedy, footballers are louts, policemen are corrupt and things used to be better in my day. Don’t these phrases roll easily off the tongue for some people? Yet is there much truth in any them?
Now, it may be that some people do fit the stereotypical view that many of us have of them; however, using that to categorise them all seems to me to say more about the mindset of those making such comments than those who are the target. And I include myself, not a stranger to railing against perceived injustice, in this. Yet I also have a predilection to challenging myself and my views, a useful trait, I find. That doesn’t mean to say that my basic beliefs have changed much since I was 18. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I tend towards the “From each according to their means and to each according to their needs” school of thought. Indeed, I can find little in the way of moral argument to justify any other reasoning for dividing up the planet’s resources. Of course, if it was true that those who are wealthy got there through ability, sheer hard work and effort, there may be the basis for such an argument. However, research seems to show that talent is fairly equally spread throughout society, whereas the resources to develop it aren’t. Apart from the iniquity of the situation for all of us as individuals, it is surely better for society that we develop as much talent as possible so that we can make the best use of it. So, what has all this got to do with my opening paragraph?
Well, it’s about categorisation and using that to divide. Divide and rule, in fact. So I reject the idea that we, in England, have more in common with one another because of our nationality than we do with those in similar circumstances in Germany, France or any other country you care to mention. The reality of the situation is that those who are extremely wealthy have more in common with one another no matter what country they hail from. Similarly with those who are poor, have a disability, are unemployed or almost any other situations that people find themselves in. The commonality is more one of circumstance than the accident that is the country of birth.
The reality of this can be demonstrated by using examples within my own experience; the world of a football supporter. Supporters tend to behave somewhat tribally especially when the opposition is local, eg Spurs v Arsenal. In the wider world, however, people who follow football, irrespective of the club that they support, have more in common with one another than with those who don’t. Their love of the game and the artistry of its best players being just two examples. As well as moaning about the inadequacies of their respective managers.
So, this is a plea that we should dispense with easy slogans and prejudice and try to think through the logic of our beliefs. Certainly with the forthcoming election only a few blogs away. People died so that we could have the vote so, please use it and vote, even if it’s a matter of spoiling your ballot paper. Preferable, though, to actually vote for a party that does, at least, seem to comprise MP’s who were born on the same planet. Another five years of this lot doesn’t bear thinking about.