Sunday, 5 February 2017

Aiming for a more equitable world?

Our southern grandchild, the one whose third birthday celebration was yesterday, is a quarter Indonesian. Her Indonesian grandfather has been talking to her in Indonesian, teaching her to count and so on. Being a child of independent mind, when he counts one, two, three in Indonesian, she makes up her own version of the words, quite deliberately and consciously transforming them so that they are the same words but beginning with the letter b. This morning she applied the same principle to English, replying to a query about breakfast with, "Yes, bease", explaining that she had said this instead of "Yes, please". A little later she thanked her daddy, "Ba bou". When he responded, "you're belbolm", she told him, "No, Daddy. This is MY language".

Her daddy was most surprised. He did not think she even knew the word language, let alone the concept that she could have one of her very own.

We were talking about this just yesterday, my son's best friend and I. His children are also a mix of races in odd proportions. So are various friends' children and grandchildren. We all hope that this mixing and matching might lead eventually to a more tolerant world. Something needs to swing the world that way as so much that is going on at present seems to be pushing in the opposite direction. 

In an article in yesterday's paper, which I only got around to reading this morning, the American visce president Henry Wallace said in 1944: "a fascist is one whose lust for money or combined with such an intensity of intolerance to those of other races, parties,classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends."

He predicted that American fascism would only become "reallly dangerous" if a "purposeful coalition"arose between crony capitalists, "poisoners of public information" and "the KKK type of demagoguery".

He also warned that if and when facism came to America it would be called "Americanism".

All of this somehow sounds very up to the minute!

I also came across something by a Bulgarian writer Kapka Kassabova who describes himself as one of "the last generation to have come of age behind a hard border". He writes in the weekend newspaper:

 "All my life, I have been haunted by borders - how unjust they feel when you are on the hard side, how alluring when you're on the soft side and how surprisingly small when they crumble."

"Is it unavoidable that we would enter an era of building hard borders, again? No - it is only desperately unwise. The reason why new borders haunt us is because we haven't listened well enough to the stories of the old ones. It is because the barbarians are here, not among us but inside our heads, tirelessly tweeting hatred."

"New borders will fail just as old borders failed. In the wretched meantime, they will not make our world freer or fairer. Only harder, costlier and more haunted."

Let's try to have a bit more multi-culturalism and rather fewer hard borders, please.

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