Divided Nation

Judas was paid, Going Postal
“Prime Minister Tony Blair” by Center for American Progress is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

There are many similarities between family life and the life of the nation. Peace in the home tends to come through being united around common values and expectations. The presence of harmony within the walls of the home is the outcome of shared commitment to something that all its occupants find beneficial to themselves but primarily to the whole. Disharmony tends to arise when one or more decide to pursue their own path to a degree that necessitates change to the established regime. It can also occur when new ideas are introduced that challenge the accepted order offering what are perceived to be spurious benefits or gains that are ill-defined and of questionable value when measured against the peace of the status quo. If there are worthwhile changes to be had they tend to arrive by gentle evolution or harsh necessity rather than by imposition by a segment. Worst of all is the presence of an individual who thinks they know better than the others how things should be done and who seeks to impose their view with a degree of religious zeal.

Society has suffered the imposition of a great many novelties over recent decades. This is trumpeted as progress. Indeed, the proponents of these untried and untested programmes even call themselves ‘progressives’ as though this is a movement akin to a religious denomination. The name does more than define the ones who desire change. It also seeks to christen those who are unconvinced or hostile to the changes as dinosaurs or Luddites as opposed to conservers or conservatives. To be anything other than a progressive is deemed reprehensible as it marks you out as belonging to a lost world.

Such is the situation in which we find ourselves. There is frequent mention across all platforms of the media of the ‘divided state’ of our nation and society and it would be true to say that with the uprooting of the old core values of 50 years ago the country is now without a centre, or perhaps more accurately, that the centre has been moved against the will of many to a place of discomfort. Consequently, a feeling of ‘lostness’ hangs like a mist across the landscape.

It is no accident that having achieved so many progressive goals the zealots of change would turn their attentions to statues. We may disagree over the merits of any particular sculpture or even baulk at the inappropriateness of its siting but those monoliths of metal and stone provided a function over and beyond themselves. They pointed to a degree of permanence, to the unchangeable, to the settled nature of things. In this they did for the urban landscape what the towers and spires of country churches do for the rural setting. They point us beyond ourselves. If you want to unsettle the foundations of a society you would best not drill down into the earth but rather topple its statues, knock down its towers and dismantle its spires. All that then remains is the present and the self and the ensuing loneliness and isolation is to the advantage of the zealots, a spiritual vacuum ripe for filling.

Many years have passed since the term ‘social contract’ was used to describe the mutuality of responsibility necessary for the smooth and harmonious operation of society. We would do well to rediscover it because where change is foisted upon the populace at too rapid a pace the resulting shock (which may take a generation or more to appear) will, of necessity bring a response as those opposed to the new skyline pull back to those things upon which they have leaned and in which they find meaning, purpose, comfort and security.

That we are a divided society is not the fault of the conservatives. On the contrary, it is the natural and predictable outcome of a programme of change that has been too rapid, indiscriminate, careless and irresponsible. It has left what is perhaps the largest segment of society feeling helpless, powerless and impotent. Society would do well to heed the lessons of history that it is not in the nature of such groups to remain forever silent.

© Judas was Paid 2020

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