It seems it is there most of the time now. If not this newspaper, then the Daily Express. If not them, then a whole hosts of memes- you name it; immigrants, the poor- anyone really. Not just an opinion, but real vituperation. The ‘other’ becomes a distant object that you can caricature, isolate and pour abuse upon. I think it is really worrying: these papers are shifting the political debate into a climate where hate, fear and an abuse to an extent not seen for many years.
I remember a few years back, the church that I used to be a minister of raised some money and built some links with an asylum seekers’ project. Someone who was going door to door on our behalf came to see me and asked how they could cope with the hate pouring from the mouths of otherwise well to do and respectable people when the word ‘asylum seeker’ was mentioned. I think it is no coincidence that the sales of the above two papers are very high in that village.
In reaction- and often before a reaction is needed, this level of hostility is repeated from the other side or even from the centre; the rapidity and depersonalising nature of social media almost encourages it: ‘right wing nutjob’, ‘All Brexiters are racist’ etc etc. It is tempting to join in and I confess I have sometimes shared memes close to these.
Why not join in and fight fire with fire? I think Faith means something different. On social media I think it means:-
-Not keeping quiet when hate springs up: challenge it every time someone shares something from ‘Britain First’, although there are a multitude of sites like that. I have lost count of the number of friends who have unwittingly posted from similar sites. No; Christmas/poppies etc are not being banned.
-Avoid posting from any ‘Christian’ site that encourages paranoia: ‘we are being persecuted’ etc.
-Remember: ‘defending our Christian nation’ is not a biblical theme. Neither is ‘fight for our values’.
-Not descending to the same level of abuse or any abuse. Just because you disagree with someone they are not ‘ignorant’, ‘nutjobs’, ‘racists’, ‘fascists’ etc.
-Being graceful. The old word was ‘winsome’. You do tend to catch more wasps with honey than with a brick though.
-Take a deep breath, walk outside: do I really need to post this?
-Would I really be like this if this person was standing in front of me?
Here are some better ideas:-
…but we live in worrying times…