Monday, 19 January 2015


Since the various terrorist attacks in Paris recently, various politicians and church leaders have stood up on their hind legs and said, variously, how important freedom of speech is, and how it should be okay to offend.

All very fine and pleasant. But they're all (apparently) missing something.

This stuff is all but inevitable, in a world that defines itself in terms that are, always, "us" and "not us."

We don't like immigrants, because they're not us. They come over here and either take our jobs or sponge off the State (neither of which is acceptable but apparently both are simultaneously possible.) We (by which I mean, I guess, readers of the more hysterical end of the tabloid press) don't like members of the Islamic faith, because every last one of them is a potential terrorist. (Yeah, right. Which made every last Roman Catholic a potential member of the IRA, a decade or three ago.)

The problem is extremely straightforward. Not that easy to deal with -- not overnight, anyway -- but extremely easy to state.

As long as society defines itself in "them and us" terms, there will always be people wanting to give "them" a kicking, and defining their reasons for doing so in terms that are emotive at best and hate-filled at worst.

Apparently we all want to do this. We start in the playground (girls vs. boys or football vs basketball or whatever) progress to sports (witness football supporters beating the crap out of other football supporters for the amazing sin of following a different team) and, well, you name it. Countries separate people from, er, people. Towns, cities, villages, hamlets are places to live that contain people who are, on the whole, just like the other people living in a different place.

So whatever religious badge you wear, wave or pray to, that's no different to any other form of tribalism. And, if you look hard enough, there's somebody making money out of it.

Isn't it about time we got the message? We're ALL us. The only "them" we should worry about are the "them" who want to keep us too busy fighting amongst ourselves to notice how much money they're making out of it.