I see myself as a fundamentally tolerant human being – but I also have a ferocious temper when pushed too far and am, as many ex-colleagues/pupils could confirm, both fiery and frightening when roused.
Crisp bullets of adult language can, oh so easily, be machine-gunned from my mouth at such times!
Honest to Goddess, this Election has brought out the worst in all too many of us – and I nearly lost it completely last night after sampling the various bottles of poisonous emotional blackmail, and vicious rhetoric, on the social sites, television and the media.
My natural instinct at such times is to respond with a barrage of crisp four-letter-word invective; to metaphorically set about me with a well-sharpened verbal meat-cleaver. But, despite my flaming hair and hair-trigger rage, I am not a violent person!
What stopped me was two things: The first was my recognition that the comments were inspired, for the most part, by understandable fear, frustration and a deep feeling of disenfranchisement (all emotions I share), and were not directed at me personally; the second: I stepped back from the ring and switched off the laptop before I said something I regretted!
But my own infuriated, if held back, response has allowed me to see why so many people have shrieked out their pain and terror and defensiveness more openly. Feeling utterly powerless in the face of uncaring leaders is horribly confronting and distressing. The sense of hopelessness is, at times, almost overwhelming – and many have wondered whether there is any point in voting at all.
But I think that if we target one another rather than the rotten apple that is the system, we are playing into the scaremongers’ hands. We are allowing squabbles between us and our friends to distract us. We are using up our arsenal of righteous anger wastefully.
As the late, and much-lamented, Sir Terry Pratchett said so wisely, ‘Personal’s not the same as important. People just think it is.’
Sometimes it is terribly tempting to shake an individual like a rat and scream into his/her face until he/she gives way and sees the world the way WE do. Other people’s views, when we are scared and wound up, can seem like heresy, treachery, Nazi ideology, Satanism.
I have been subjected to gaslighting and emotional blackmail too many times to put up with it readily now – and I am seriously worried by the prevalence of these techniques in our day-to-day world. What the hell is the point in blaming and loathing the Government if we are using the same mind-tricks the more egregious politicians use to persuade others to see things our way? How is threatening others – be they individuals or a country – a just and adult way of dealing with dissenters?
If we value Democracy, why do we act as if we are trying to set up our own Dictatorships? The Democratic System means, surely, that we are NOT forced to obey the one party line; that we can use our consciences, beliefs and minds to decide how to vote.
We will not agree with the way every other human being votes – but can we not at least acknowledge each person’s right to make that choice? Can we not at least consider the possibility that WE may not have the key to Absolute Truth, Rightness and Morality either?
Dictators use threats and force to bring the minions, the lesser beings, under control – and I think we ape their mindset at our peril. There is, it seems to me, a very fine line between passionate advocacy – which I am totally in support of – and deranged screeching/threatening, which I am not.
My views are very clear and I have voted accordingly. I have also hinted strongly on Facebook without, I hope, making anyone else wrong if they do not choose to do as I have done.
I refuse to be intimidated any longer. This emotional Weapon of Mass Destruction is terrifyingly easy to get hold of, costs nothing to produce and is picked up with barely a backward glance by too many of us.
It is very tempting to lash out here, and fulfil some of my orange-haired woman reputation, but I will breathe deeply, keep my calm and simply say what could so easily have been screamed or sworn or yelled out.
I am dismayed, and deeply saddened, by those who attempt to twist another’s arm – be it politically, emotionally or spiritually – by using terror-based threats and aggressive guilt-trip-woven rhetoric.
It is all too easy to lose control. I know. I have done it on many an occasion – and lived to regret the consequences of allowing that rage to manifest physically. A brief example will suffice: A flash of temper when I was four resulted in my younger sister being scarred for life.
I have a temper. I try and keep it, like a crisply-sharpened sword, in its scabbard because I am all too aware that fighting violence or nastiness with more of the same is simply an unnecessary accelerant thrown upon the conflagration.
One of the most difficult things in the world is listening to, and tolerating people’s right to hold, views which are very different to ours – and, in the political sphere, I think it all too easy to tar those who vote for a particular party with the entire brush of the party itself.
People who vote for a party we despise may be – and probably are – just as sincere in their convictions as we are, and may have an equally clear and humanitarian ethos. Many people who feel fear about the future (and I suspect that’s the vast majority of us) opt for a system which appears to embody strength or certainty.
There are currently FORTY-NINE Dictatorships in the world.
We are lucky enough in this country to have choice – and, for all the imperfections of both system and individual parties, in this we are far more blessed than many other parts of the planet.
Internecine conflict makes a corrupt system’s job all the easier. Let us not forget that!