The trouble with generalisations

I have a few rules regarding my blogs. I don’t do politics or religion. Why? Because these topics often bring out the worst and most vile in people, and I don’t see the point of putting myself into the firing line. Instead I usually write about the music business and more light hearted topics – I much rather cheer people up if possible!

But I must confess, I’ve had a tough week. With the looming referendum, the football hooligans, the growing Nationalism here and abroad, I have become somewhat distressed. What really brought it to a head was the murder of Jo Cox this week. Now, I’m not one to get overwrought by the death of people I don’t know. I didn’t cry when Lady Di died and found the outpouring of grief quite inexplicable. But this murder has acted as the final nail in the coffin of my ill-feelings. It’s less to do with who she was – left, right, it’s immaterial – but that someone had such strong Nationalistic feelings (allegedly – but increasingly likely) to go out to kill someone who disagreed with their opinion.

I must at this point stress, that this blog is not about the referendum. As someone with an Austrian passport, and who had to fight for years to get my residency in this country before Austria joined the EU, I do have a terrible sense of dread about the possibility of leaving Europe and what will happen to me. Self-interest at it’s prime. But I do understand both sides of the argument, especially the stretching of resources. My partner was a victim to this recently when needing an operation from the NHS. So please don’t write to me with your in/out arguments.

What is distressing me most, is the tribalism and Nationalism that is spreading throughout the world. The referendum has just stoked those fires and has given a voice to people that have been generally ignored in the past. I was ashamed that Austria nearly voted in a far right party in their most recent elections. It’s happening everywhere.

And at the root are generalisations. We’re all prone to make them at times. But, on the whole, we are educated people. We have to stop and think sometimes. Many times I’ve had people say to me: ‘I hate the French’ (for example). My reply is always: ‘That’s amazing! I didn’t know you’d met ALL of them!’ And this kind of rhetoric has really multiplied in recent years. All people on the dole are scroungers. All Muslems are terrorists/ want Sharia Law. All syrians are rapists. All people coming from Europe are crooks/ stealing our jobs/ claiming benefits. All Polish people are criminals. And so on.

There always have been, and always will be some workshy, dishonest, criminal, unpleasant people. Of all colours, ages, back-grounds and nationalities. But most people are like you and me. People ask – ‘Would you rather live next door to an immigrant, or an English person?’ Personally I rather live next to a nice Bulgarian couple than a British football hooligan with a Rottweiler.

Another generalisation I’ve always balked at is the one that says ‘all politicians are crooked and out for themselves’. I’ve never believed this (though I appreciate I’m in the minority). Of course some are! Especially the ones with the loudest voices and who crave the limelight. They’re generally the worst. But there were a large contingent of politicians who didn’t fiddle their expenses. And I hope that the legacy of Jo Cox’s tragic murder will be that this message is understood. The same goes for police officers, the press, lawyers and all other professions often vilified in a big lump. I believe that many people go into these professions with the best of intentions. The fact that they cannot change the world overnight, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

I’m wise enough to know that Utopian ideals will never work. Human nature is in itself too varied and chaotic for any system to function perfectly. Life isn’t perfect, and never will be. Some people will always be destined to draw the short straw. But I do have a vision, or perhaps a wish, that we can move towards global co-operation of sorts. The whole world working together in such a way that we look out for each other, the environment, injustices, across our planet. And we’re a long way from achieving that! The current Nationalistic fervour is driving us ever further away from this ideal.

Today’s climate gives a voice to people who have been thinking in generalisations, and now feel they can air them publicly. I remember when smooth-talking Heider, a Nazi-sympathising Politian, came to prominence 15-20 years ago in Austria, all the closet anti-semites became more vocal. My mother was accosted at a bus shelter on a rainy day by one of these and told that dirty Jews should have to wait in the rain. Quite how he knew she was Jewish is another mystery.

I’m fully aware that worrying about immigration does not make people racist. But it does give those that are a megaphone. Hopefully a temporary one. These times are not so dissimilar to the National fervour sweeping Germany in 1932 when the Nazi party was first voted in. I’m sure if people had had a crystal ball to see where it would lead some years later, the majority would have been horrified. But hind-sight is a wonderful thing.

Whatever happens in the next week, I have to believe that there are enough humanistic and enlightened people here in the UK and abroad, to outnumber those who would have generalisations turn into hatred.

And to sign the petition in a few years to stop me being chucked out of the country.

There are no comments yet, add one below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tags: , , ,