We believe but do we listen?

Our beliefs are largely conditioned by our upbringing, it is as if we are born to follow our parents/family and indeed most of us do.  Political persuasion, for example, more often than not, runs in the family, once a Republican believer,  seldom a Democrat convert. Some belief systems are capable of change others run a good deal deeper, particularly religions.

Belief systems dictate the thinking and practice of lifestyle, and to a large extent define our prejudices. What is true in one belief system is not necessarily so in another. The idea of the non-believer is the epitome of conflict. It is here that the intolerance of ignorance, the refusal to listen to another viewpoint is inevitably entrenched.

The good news is that virtually all belief systems including religions are centrally tolerant, it is only the extremist who sees the non-believer as a threat. Those that see the alternative belief system as simply that, are those who the world needs.

There is,, of course, the view that beliefs if they are worth anything,  must be shared with those others outside the circle of belief.  The record of missionary exploits is not good and history shows that the extremists seem always to get the upper hand. History is littered with examples wildly extreme acts of desecration of human life and values. All in the pursuit of spreading beliefs of one sort or another.

How then are we to fight against the extremes? The answer is to learn, to listen and to tolerate those other belief systems, not necessarily to accept them. To be aware that they have a place in our world despite the prejudices of our own history.

Dysfunctional Government

The UK prides itself on being the original model for parliamentary democracy. We have much to be proud of. However, we have shown ourselves to be hugely incompetent in managing the fruits of our no doubt well-intentioned labor.

The Windrush scandal is the results of manifestly racist and careless culture which has treated the whole of the rest of the world as ‘others.’ The British civil service and their political masters of whatever hue have relegated the issue of border control as a necessary evil which can be manipulated in any number of ways, convenient for the ruling establishment.

Hence the Windrush generation of mainly working-class citizens was consigned to the paper shredders of Whitehall whilst bent money launderers can without much inconvenience lodge their ill-gotten gains in the UK without so much as a cursory examination.

Many will argue that the twisted economics of the London property market and the disdain of my West Indian friends is the result of incompetence. Others, including me, see it as the result of endemic racism. I am ashamed.

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No wonder I’m confused!

The years go by and things change at an amazing rate. (I hate the word amazing used too much). But in this case, amazing means what it has been, mind-boggling, confusing, and dazzling.

Everything from politics to gender definition,  privacy, communication, you name it, things have changed.  What was once great, say The British Empire, is now held in contempt for the evils that were perpetrated along the way.  Slavery being the principal wrong. There were many others, institutions, and empires, where progress was defined in ways that would not be tolerated today.

The Church as I knew it has all but vanished, and the ascendency of other religions usually in the extreme form now grab all the attention and cause mayhem in the complexity of Middle East and throughout the world.

Capitalism has its fair share of detractors, and though I never believed it possible we see liberalism highjacked by the luny fringes leading to what amounts to an attack on the basic freedom of speech. Extreme liberalism is anything but, extremists use social media to shout down alternative viewpoints. Hence the birth of fake news and growing polarisation away from the consensual center ground

The history of many cultures is being re-examined in the light of modern (some say) thinking. Nothing is sacred anymore.

Yet the world still has enormous diversity not only climatic and racial, but cultural and political. I guess in the West we still cling to the idea of liberal capitalism but the EU is manifestly failing to sustain the great experiment, trying vainly to aggregate the views of Poland, Hungary, and Austria versus France, Germany and the bemused and bankrupt southern European states.  Populism, as exemplified by PORTUS Trump knows no apparent moral or legal code. Authoritarianism reigns unbridled in Russia and China, Corruption still reigns supreme in the developing world.  In short, the world is in a mess.

How are we to define progress?  What is progress?  A safer, cleaner kinder world would be a reasonable proposal. However, with such distrust and deviance of rational thinking, we are a long way from a move toward these noble aims. The UN remains hamstrung and useless because of the Paranoia of Putin, the indiscipline of Trump, the greed of many of the developing world leaders and the bemusement of the old guard. Still, a talking shop is better than no talking shop and it’s all that have.

No wonder I’m confused.