Thursday, 12 March 2009

The Silent Minority

One thing that seems to characterise today's society is the abundance of groups determined to impose their agenda on everyone else. Without really pausing for thought I could name several, all of which demand quite agressively that I accomodate their beliefs and uphold their practices and yet become strangely upset if I in turn ask that they respect mine.
One thing that particularly troubles me in all this is what I call the terrorist paradox. Here in the UK we're no stranger to terrorism having lived with the IRA for half a generation, and yet we have a settlement today in which former enemies have come together to form a power-sharing government. That's good, and I'm glad the peace finally came. It came because people on both sides put aside their guns and rhetoric to talk; both the government and the terrorists meeting on middle ground and moving forward together for peace. And what's interesting is the way in which these leaders have now risen up with one voice to condemn the recent murders by the 'Real IRA' - acts that some of them supported and even committed before they became politicians. Again, I'm glad they spoke out; but I worry that in the wider context of our society we're setting a pattern here.
It seems that in today's world if you live quietly as a reasonable, law-abiding citizen, respecting the rights of others and never forcing your agenda on your fellow man then your voice is ignored by a political system that has more pressing things to think about. But if you step over the line and make noise, if you break the law and throw bricks at Policemen, if you kill and maim innocent bystanders, damage property and commit that most British of crimes, "disturbing the peace", then after the outrage and condemnation have run their course someone will eventually decide to sit down and talk with you. Make yourself a thorn in society's side and sooner or later your demands will be heard. And not just heard; in the fulness of time you'll probably be brought in from the cold and given a leadership role.
We live in a world where only the loud are listened to; and there are many who understand this and are prepared to be as loud as it takes. It's a shame our governments and leaders can't find the time to equally engage the quiet. I don't see anyone offering to bring the young, carers, refugees, ordinary people of quiet and dignified faith, single parents, the elderly or the homeless into the political establishment; rather, I see them increasingly marginalised. We face big problems today, and there are many who have much to contribute but because they either have no voice or have a moral compass that prevents them from stamping on others, they are ignored.
There are rumours that Obama might be about to talk to the Taliban. If he does then it's further evidence, should more be needed, that in today's warped politics there are now two routes into public office: the ballot and the bomb.

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