In wandering around a few blogs about New Year’s resolutions, I stumbled upon the following comment from Paul Dzubinski (on another person’s post).
His resolution was to identify people who exhibited certain characteristics which he admired and aspired to, and actively seek to learn from them.
One of the characteristics was:
• peace in the face of the people who spread fear (who are mostly preachers, conservative republicans, liberal democrats [in the USA sense] and radio talk show hosts).
It struck me that, in the UK context, this list would read something like ‘tabloid journalists, opposition politicians and militant believers in any given ideology’.
The last is a bit cumbersome, but I wanted to cover the angry atheists, the radicalised Muslims and the professionally disgruntled Christians in the same category.
These people seem not to want to make the world a better place. They don’t appeal to the positive, the hopeful, the aspirational, but seek to foster fear and worry. Ironically, some fear change (tabloid journalists often hark back to the ‘good old days’ when children could play safely in the streets etc), while others see the past as evil and try to make people fear those who adhere to ‘old fashioned values’ (like going to church, singing hymns in school assemblies etc).
What neither side does well, if at all, is to sell a positive vision of how life can look in 21st Century Britain, which leads me to suspect that they don’t really have any good ideas – they just know what they don’t like, and want to ensure that everyone else hates and fears it, too.
Fear can be a strong motivating force – in a situation of genuine danger, fear provides the adrenaline which helps you fight or escape – but it is not sustainable over the long term. The preachers of fear usually sound harsh and angry. They are critical of everything and foster a negative outlook on life.
Paul Dzubinski is right to seek to be peaceful in the face of these fear-mongers, and not allow himself to be drawn into angry, hate-filled battles of words, but more than that, I hope he is seeking to promote and disseminate peace and an attitude of hope.
This is now one of my New Year’s resolutions. How about you?