The Art of keeping your big mouth shut

You can think it, but you can’t say it. Well, that is unless you’re Frankie Boyle who says whatever the hell he likes and usually gets away with it. Most of us have to opt for diplomacy through gritted teeth. Every day we’re forced to deal with people we don’t like, from irate bus drivers to the thoughtless prat hogging the cashpoint machine. But since they don’t teach love and tolerance at secondary modern, we’re left in something of a quandry.

Violence isn’t the answer. What we need to do is see these things as challenges, the chance to practise a little humility in a world woefully short on such things. But selfless action is hard to implement, especially when you’ve spent a lifetime chasing your own dreams. There’s a tendency to make excuses and find something else to do. After all, as humans we’re naturally driven to pleasing ourselves.

Scott Peck talks about the evolution of human consciousness. As the centuries roll on, we become a little less like our barbarian ancestors and more like Cliff Richard, shunning all forms of vice and helping pensioners to cross the street. But is this an accurate forecast or misguided optimism? The myriad conflicts around the globe suggests the latter.

Mans inability to live in harmony with his neighbour has consumed philosophers down through the ages. No wonder most of them were so bloody miserable, given the subject matter! When you take a good long look at the pathalogical liability that is the human race, you can’t help but be fearful for the future. Wars aren’t fought on the battlefield anymore. Well, not on the same grand scale that they used to be. Now it’s all clandestine, laser-guided stuff, organised in some remote control room by faceless bureaucrats. And when the negotiations between superpowers fail, there’s always the threat of all-out nuclear war to blow us permanantly off the planet.

Have I strayed too far from the original topic of this blog? Well yes, perhaps. But think about the long term implications for us all. We’re running out of time here. If we don’t find ways to curb our leaders instincts towards domination, subjugation and the lust for power, we’ll soon be extinct.

We don’t need to throw chairs through windows to make political statements. And we can, with a little application, learn to hold opposing views without trying to inflict them on others with a baseball bat. But live together in peace and harmony?

Part of the problem is our ancient heritage. We all come from tribes. You cannot, as Western society would have us believe, lump different cultures together and expect them to integrate. Racism is generated largely through fear and misunderstanding, a kind of dangerous hysteria that, if uncontained, can spread like a forest fire, infecting whole nations. Most people accept that racism per se is abhorrent and unacceptable. But you can’t change peoples opinions by mandate.

We don’t have the First Amendment in this country, but we do still have something known as democracy. Surely, it is the inalienable right of every man, woman and child to walk this earth from birth to death without fear of rape, murder, incarceration without trial, infringement of civil liberties, torture and repression. The first tenet of freedom is the right to freedom of speech. As soon as this is withdrawn, all other evils follow.

This blog was brought to you by the voice of reasoned hypocrisy, in that I started with one idea and finished with another.

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