I seems to me that everything in life at the moment boils down to the single question: dogs or cats?
It is a question which has separated mankind for, one presumes, centuries, if not millennia.
Very occasionally, I would meet the odd person (and they really were considered odd) who had a dog and a cat but I think the last one died out around the time of the second Iraq war.
Now, we are forced to live in such a binary world: dogs or cats? Trump or Clinton? Brexiteer or Remainer? Moslem or Non-Moslem?
What happened to being on a continuum? I’m okay with chocolate but I can take or leave ice cream?
Not any more. You WILL choose between opposing camps. You will not respect the rights and views of the other side, or indeed of the majority. It’s not enough to say, ‘I would have voted Clinton but I respect that Trump has been democratically elected and has the right to rule’. Or, heaven forbid, ‘I voted Remain but I’m okay with Brexit’.
Somewhere along the line, in the last ten years or so, the liberals stopped being liberal and only respected your right to have an opinion as long as it matched their own. Free speech is now such a narrow field I’m surprised anyone bothers with it any more.
The only community bucking the trend is the lesbian and gay one who are becoming more inclusive. Bisexual long since joined the party, then Trans and now Questioning. Can I join under the Q banner if I’m questioning everything I’ve ever been taught about democracy and free speech?
What if I’m questioning all sorts of things I thought I knew about life: weren’t things supposed to be incrementally improving for everyone in the world at any given point in time? Haven’t we never had it so good? Won’t this generation live longer than the last? Why are all the teenagers so tall? And the cancer rates so high?
Back in the 80’s, Charles Handy promised me a portfolio career, matrix management and more leisure time than I knew what to do with.
The reality is I’m working harder than ever for less money, have a mortgage bigger than a mill around my neck and wouldn’t know a day off it tripped me up and made me spend the day in an (underfunded) A&E department.
It seem to me to come down to one, final, binary question: what kind of future do we want for ourselves and our children – better or worse than the one before?
Of course the answer is better. So we need to respect the rights of others to hold views different from our own, stop all the hate, and face the future with a positive attitude and a tolerant heart.
PS. The answer is dogs. No question. (I know – but sometimes you sit at the end of the continuum…)
PPS. About the teenagers – maybe it’s the hormones in food, d’uh. (Probably applies for the cancer question too…)