Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Radical Idea

This week Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) gave a speech to the UN calling for gender equality. Very soon after she was met with threats to cease and desist or have photos of herself naked plastered over the internet.
This week also saw an exhibition at The Barbican entitled Exhibit B closed down amidst protests that it was racist.
Is there a commonality between these two events?
I believe there is. It's called bullying...

  • They sought to bully Emma Watson into silence
  • They bullied The Barbican into cancelling an exhibition

And, in my heart of hearts, I can't bring myself to support bullying even when I sympathise with the motives for it (I too loathe racism). 
Some may say these actions against Emma Watson and The Barbican are the work of "radicals" but what is "radical" about a methodology that has been existent since the beginnings of civilisation? A methodology that isn't just used by the man/woman/other on the street/behind a computer screen but by our leaders too? 
For example, just this week various world leaders decided to start bombing Syria in order to (simplistically put) bully Islamic State into ceasing to behead innocent citizens.
No, bullying is definitely not the work of "radicals"! Sadly, it is the work of everybody - we all use threat and violence to get our way at least once in our lives! 
Now, it doesn't take a genius to deduce that bullying has existed since the beginnings of civilisation - and will continue to exist in the future - for one simple reason: it is effective. 
But there is one major drawback to bullying - even when it doesn't claim lives - and that is that, as well as being effective, it is also affective: it radicalises people.
As a result of fighting a conflict by means of threat and violence, you push 'wavering voters' onto the side of the opposition - even if you win!
Thus feminists will not reduce in number; no more than racists will; no more than Islamic terrorists will; just because you use the tools of the bully against them. No, rather, they will grow in number.
As a result, you move further away from that peaceful day when there is no opposition to your way of doing things (which, presumably, is why you resorted to bullying in the first place??).
We've had billions of years now of trying to solve conflict by threat and violence and what lasting peace has it ever achieved?!! 
No, we need to try something different. Something truly radical...
Like winning hearts and minds instead of destroying them!
If you can convince your opponent that your way of doing things is correct by means of irrefutable argument then what opposition can they have to it? Surely, that peaceful day will be yours!
Ah, but, undoubtedly, that irrefutable argument is hard to come by! Everyone has an opinion on everything! 
Well, then maybe we have to try harder!
After all, if we know one way claims lives and the other doesn't (but claims hearts and minds instead) is it such a hard thing to decide which way is worth the effort? Which way is worth fighting... er... arguing(!) for?
Then why does it feel like the great and the good disagree with me?

I obviously haven't put together my irrefutable argument yet. 
I must try harder!