This evening I realised, in conversation with a friend, that I’m grieving for the country I thought I lived in. I know, come what may, it’s never coming back. The social, economic, cultural and emotional landscapes are all deteriorating and shifting into meaner, uglier shapes. Hate is everywhere.
Oh, there will always be good people even if they’re forced into hiding, but now there are people you think are good until they open their mouths to spout racist drivel and other ignorant shit about foreigners or benefit scroungers, or question the definition of rape, the importance of science, the rights of others to practice their faiths.
And that’s before you get to the ones who parade their hatred and pretend they honour our war dead while denying the Holocaust. The ones who sexually predate on children while plotting to murder MPs. The ones who defile the poppy of remembrance by claiming Muslims want it banned along with Christmas, too.
I am so tired of the sewage that passes for public discourse. Some blame the politicians but they’re voted into office.
While we live in a world more connected than ever before, it grows harder and harder to find people to believe in, to trust – as politicians, lovers and friends. And so we retreat, those of us who don’t club together to further degenerate civilisation, into books, TV, movies, our homes. Close the curtains and you can pretend everything is okay.
It really, really isn’t.
A wonderful arts centre in Blackburn, Lancashire was burned down yesterday. It was in an historic church deconsecrated in the 1970s. Beautiful building. The local newspaper ran the story and it was shared on Facebook. Underneath, there were comments – insinuations, with no evidence – that it was burned down ‘because it was a church’. It wasn’t a church, hadn’t been for four decades, but Blackburn has a large Muslim population. You can see what the racists want to infer. In the absence of truth to support racism, lies and propaganda are always deployed.
These are dangerous times – hate is on the rise – and we need to recognise them as such, stop pretending we can carry on in a world that doesn’t exist any more. It isn’t just the old living in the past, it’s even millennials looking back at the 1990s and hiding in front of their games consoles.
We need to stand proud and fight the evil but, right now, people are bereaved. We will get past that. When we do, we will come to realise that we have to get involved, have to fight. Or things are going to get a whole lot worse. Of that you can be certain.
Above all else, love your neighbour. Love in a time of hate is revolutionary. Be a rebel. Show kindness. Be generous with whatever you have, no matter how little. And remember, fear can be paralysing – so don’t give in to it.
Andrew’s latest book, myfibromyalgia: one man’s experience of living with chronic illness, is out now in all Amazon store territories the world over. The ebook is £5.99 and the paperback £8.99. UK Amazon link.