Sorry for another political rant.
It started with a phone call from my youngest, and the subject – as it inevitably does in the UK at the moment – drifted into politics. It shouldn’t have been a problem. We both, for the record, voted to remain in the EU; we were both dismayed at the result. There, though, the similarities end. For me, a slightly grim pragmatism has taken over – a kind of ‘Well, OK, we’re in this mess, so what can we do to make the best of it?’ attitude. His disappointment, however, has taken him in a different direction.
“Not wanting to cause offence or anything,” he said, “but you know it was mainly the older people who voted for Brexit.”
I pointed out that two thirds of young people hadn’t even bothered to use their votes.
“Well, yes, maybe,” he continued, “but it isn’t fair that these people, who won’t even be around to deal with the consequences, should have decided our future. A group of us were saying, the other night, that – just as there’s a lower cut-off point for voting of 18 – there should maybe be a cut-off at the other end and people over 70…”
“When I reach 70,” I told him, icily, “I expect to last for approximately another 30 years. That’s longer than you’ve been alive.”
“Well yes,” (he knows as well as I do the genetic predisposition of women in our family to last well into their nineties and often beyond) “perhaps 70 is a bit harsh. Maybe it should be more like…”
He didn’t get to finish that sentence.
There was me thinking the ‘Remain’ camp had the higher moral ground. We were the ones who had said, ‘Well admittedly all is not as we’d like it, but let’s stay in the Union and change things from within, rather than throwing babies out with the bathwater and putting the blame for all our ills on others – immigrants, economic migrants, European bureaucracy, Greece, Germany or whatever.’
Seems I was wrong.
As soon as the Remainers have reason to feel miffed, what do they do? They begin flailing around looking for someone to blame. The Scots blame the English. The educated blame the ignorant. My son and his mates would happily disenfranchise their parents and grandparents, just as surely as the Brexiteers would gleefully repatriate the European workers who are propping up our health service.
Because BLAME is endemic in our culture. We have grown up believing that everything we dislike is someone else’s fault. All we need to do is find that someone, punish or denounce or harass them and things will start to get better.
Such an attitude is the stuff of life to our media; they thrive on fuelling the ‘righteous’ indignation of the many against the few.
It is the modus vivendi of politics. We look on miserably while the two sides slug it out in parliament, endlessly blaming each other for whatever mess we’re in.
The trouble is, there are no winners in the Blame Game – just losers.
So how would it look, I’m wondering, if we stopped blaming?
Just simply stopped.
How would it look if each one of us took responsibility for the way things are now?
What if we calmly considered what we’re happy with and what could do with changing?
What if we then set about entering into a blame-free dialogue with others to find ways of improving matters?
What if the media observed and reported on what is happening in the country and beyond, without apportioning blame or inciting revenge?
What if politicians didn’t square up to each other across a divided room and hurl insults and recrimination? What if they formed into all-party special interest groups – individuals with particular levels of experience and expertise in particular areas of government – and became groups of ‘elders’ who sat around a table and worked together to forge a way forward for the benefit of all?
It couldn’t be a lot worse, could it? Maybe it could be a great deal better…
It all starts with us, though – us not blaming anyone.