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Demonising the positive

I am a courier for a living. I would rather put my skills to better use, but in the current climate finding work relating to my knowledge of renewable energy is proving tougher than I would have hoped.

One of the places I visit is the local further education college. In the stairwell is a notice saying (and I’m sorry I paraphrase) “Don’t allow your own self esteem to rely on putting down others.”

In the UK we, sad to say, have a problem with this. Particularly on an intellectual level. There is a need to vale everyone for their skills, abilities and qualities, and, well, just as human beings. But there is a tendency in society that instead of praising and valuing everyone, seeks to remove respect for and actively devalue knowledge, learning and technical ability.

He’s got tons of qualifications, but no common sense.

I looked for guidance but all I found was technobabble.

People are fed up of experts.

Huh? Speak English mate!

Let’s be clear, these attitudes are bullying, plain and simple. You don’t need to bring skilled and knowledgeable people down in order to value what others can bring to the table. You don’t need to make people’s skills and abilities seem pointless and worthless in order to give comfort to those who are not as strong or confident in those areas.

We need a society that values everyone, but we don’t achieve that by belittling and devaluing people we think have more respect than others, we do it by raising up others.

I’ve been here before. I’m still proud of the positive stand I took, but saddened at the lack of open support for my positive actions. And since then it’s got worse.

It’s not just learning and skills that raise the ire, general social attitudes do as well. The use of the term “do-gooder” by a person to put down someone who is being kind, positive or open-minded sums up the attitude. Over the past few years there has been a fightback from the spiteful and mildly xenophobic to paint those that stand up to them as the real problem. It’s worked and it’s poisonous.

These attitudes have even worked up to the top of government. People standing up for positive values are derided as sneering, people with an open attitude to nationality are sneered at. By the Prime Minister herself!

My hypothesis is this: that if you turn people against positive attitudes and behaviours then you create a climate in which aggressive and negative attitudes can flourish. To treat people who stand up for positive values as a problem rather than part of the solution is making matters worse and worse.


Concerns about immigration?

We’re forever told that it’s unfair to be vocal about the strong xenophobic messages from some people in favour of Brexit.

I do accept that not all 17.4M who voted Brexit did so out of xenophobia or paranoia. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim that the strong xenophobic message is a fringe voice amongst those advocating Brexit vote one minute and then claim that authoritarian measures against foreigners are fine because “it’s what people voted for.”

Because the vote was “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” not “Do you have a problem with foreigners?”

Friday Morning Coming Down – Was It Ever About EU?

This seems to sum up how I feel.

Robinince's Blog

It is probably an ill-advised gesture to write about feelings that occurred on Friday morning. I have typed it and hastily reread it, but I am sure there will be errors in grammar and logic. I post it rapidly before I lose faith in it. Hopefully this is clearly not about all campaigners on one side or the other, but with so much read into everything on the referendum, I am sure some will take offence where it is not meant. 

I have woken up cross, bothered, bewildered and worried after elections, but I’ve  never had the same sense of confusion as I had when I woke this Friday after the referendum. I was in the same place where I had fallen asleep, but the territory felt utterly changed.

It was the increasingly pungent stench of snake oil that made the last few weeks of the BREXIT campaigning so dizzying.


View original post 1,170 more words

The next day

I think I’m lucky, I don’t have anyone crowing on my social media feeds. and I don’t have anyone being aggressive or using bad language. A little tetchy, perhaps, but people are understandably bruised by this. Mostly I’ve seen contemplative stuff, interspersed with a little clutching at straws, and a bit of black humour too. I have better taste in friends than I would have expected!

I’ve seen calls for calm. Saying we need to calm down and pull together as a society. But some of us need to lick our wounds. The pain is real, if not physical. We need to accept and move on, but it will take more than 48 hours.

Some of the worst elements of our society were exposed, and the country nearly pulled itself apart. The worst part of it was seeing the thoughtful and caring were at times treated as part of the problem, as if we were just as bad as those yelling “Out! Out! Out!”. We need to be the solution. It’s plain that none of the leave campaigns had a clue as to what happens next, but we can sit back and let the politicians work that out, just keeping a quiet eye on them. For the rest of us we need to work on rebuilding our society.

52% voted to leave. So many have said “It’s not about X, it’s about Y” “It’s not about Y it’s about Z.” If I felt all 52% were raving bigots I would be making plans now to leave the country. I don’t believe all 52% voted out because they have a problem with “mass” immigration, free movement, muslims etc. I don’t believe all 52% are paranoid about “Frau Merkel” wanting to control and dominate us. We need to rebuild our society, not by accepting small mindedness as just another point of view, but by ensuring it has not place in a post-EU Britain.

Sarcastically we amended “vote leave” to “vote love”, just as we need to hold Vote Leave to their promises that we won’t loose jobs and investments and they will spend more on the NHS, we need to try and live by that one.


The most of humanity brigade

I was just thinking right now about a rather odd turn of phrase. It turned up as a comment on an article about gaffes by Prince Philip.

Not gaffes, he is just not a signed up member of the PC Brigade.

Now while Prince Philip’s faux pas tend to raise a smile with me rather than anger or annoyance, I still recognize them as such. It wasn’t the suggestion of support for Philip’s behavior that rankled rather than the phrase “PC Brigade.”

It’s a widespread idiom, calling a group of people a “Brigade”. It usually seems to me to be a turn of phrase used by people describing a nice, positive form of behaviour or viewpoint that they don’t subscribe to. It seems to be an attempt to portray that nice, widespread quality as unusual and problematic. The use of the phrase “brigade” is almost always scathing, and an attempt to portray people that someone doesn’t like as a noisy and problematic minority. The brigade labelled is often trying to deny the fact that the attitude they despise is both positive and mainstream.

As Stewart Lee observes, Political Correctness is just a form of institutionalized politeness. Yes it can be done unthinkingly by idiots, but on the whole it is a positive thing that does more good than harm. Yes, I think there is a case to be made for humour that rises from offensive behaviour. But not for trying to make out that offensive behaviour isn’t offensive, or that those that are offended are kiljoys.

Using phrases like “The PC Brigade” and “The Human Rights Brigade” doesn’t make you look witty or down to earth, it makes you look like a loony and an idiot.

Avoiding being recruited by pirates

Saarland, where I live, is just about the smallest state in Germany apart from the city states. In terms of population it’s actually smaller than Hamburg.

In January the ruling “Jamaica” coalition between Merkel’s CDU, the FDP, and the Green party  in the state parliament fell apart, meaning we have elections on Sunday 25th March. So every time I go to town I get pestered by political people, and have to say in my best German that I’m a foreigner and can’t vote.

There are *ELEVEN* parties contesting the election.

  • CDU
  • SPD
  • DIE LINKE (The Left)
  • FDP Liberals
  • BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN (Green Party)
  • The Family Party
  • NPD (I think the German BNP)
  • FREIE WÄHLER (Free Voters)
  • Direct Democracy Initiative
  • Die PARTEI
  • The Pirate Party

What I’m noticing is that they all have an allocation of A0 Posters on lampposts and on those posters only the FDP is going for negative campaigning. Well the Greens have a cartoon of a nuclear power station with the slogan “Tick tock tick tock” but it’s not a direct swipe at their opponents, it’s all about what they would do. The negative campaigning doesn’t seem to be doing the FDP any good, they’re on 1% of the vote, while the greens are only slightly down on 5%.

The other noticeable thing (to a foreigner) is The Pirate Party which here appears to be a sort of home for the more alternative people who in the UK would be members of the Lib Dems, is gaining votes. They’re actually polling higher than the Greens. And their slogans are nothing to do with IP, but more to do with votes at 16, family having multiple shapes (picture of a toddler with 2 dads), and the environment. And their best: “Don’t trust posters, inform yourself.”