Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Adios, culture war


I've gone off politics. Okay, not entirely – man is a political animal, going off it entirely would require me to become a hermit. But the vitriolic, cultural-political-memetic war that pits people against each other in a fight to see who can be the nastiest? That consumes it's own (and I'm not just talking about those on the left here...) in a whirlwind of hatred, whose fighters race each other on tigers to see who gets to be the victory meal? Yes, I want nothing to do with that any more, even if trolling is fun.

I know that this is nothing new. People have people calling their opponents Hitler since... well, Hitler (though the first people who did at least had an opponent who was literally Hitler). I know that there is nothing new under the sun.

I also know that very few people – I can't say absolutely no-one – consciously decide that they're going to hate group X. Paradoxically, I think most hatred is motivated by love – those who love are motivated to react strongly against any they fear to be threatening the beloved, whether or not those fears are grounded in reality. Christians who are worried that their faith is under attack, and atheists who are worried their lack of faith is as well. Fathers worried that their daughters will be assaulted by transwomen using women's bathrooms, and fathers worried that their daughters will be assaulted if they're forced to use the men's bathrooms by dint of being transgender. Women who are worried that they'll be forced into the tradlife of a fifties era housewife. Patriots, who love their country and its culture, and are worried about it being subsumed and lost. Above all, the everyday worries of people and families who are just trying to get through life, and hoping they keep their job and don't get mugged. I get this.

I also get that there are deep problems still with our society, and there most certainly is pain. The bodies of LGBT youth who have committed suicide prove this. Those who have lost the will to live because of a system that's set up for the benefit of others and left them at the bottom of society, whilst being criticised for the crime of being born white, prove this too. Their blood cries out from the ground. The pain is real. But it has been obscured – nay, smothered, even as it's politicised – by hatred. We're so afraid that the Other cannot see our pain, that we do not let ourselves see theirs. So we comfort ourselves with the knowledge that their pain isn't real, and is just a sob story used as a weapon in their war on our sacred values.

I understand all this. No-one sees themselves as the villain of their own story. It's always the other side which is the Empire, or the Death Eaters, or the Capitol. I can't hate people for that. But when we think our opponents have no redeeming features, everything bad that happens to them is them getting what they deserve, their propaganda to the contrary be damned.

That's why I'm done with this war. This isn't a Lord of the Rings style clash, with the Obvious Good Guys fighting the Clear Bad Guys. If I have to use a fictional analogy, then this is more like Game of Thrones – different sides, some of which are just out for naked power but most of which believe themselves to be in the right, fighting each other and tearing the land apart whilst the real threat moves implacably towards them. The real war is between the living and the dead, and the dead are coming. There are problems that we have as – as a society, as a western civilisation, as a planetary civilisation - which need to be solved, and solved soon. Blaming people – even those who are to blame! - doesn't actually solve those problems. We need solutions more than we need punishment.

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