Bill brought a local paper with him this morning, his intention being to show us an article about an old friend. By the time we read it, our main task of cleaning out and feeding the hens was done and, with time to spare, we read the whole paper. And there they were! Every edition brings demands for one ban or another from the bossy busybodies who seem to have nothing more to do than tell everyone else how to live their lives. Today they want a campaign against fast-food eaters, Red Bull drinkers, those who chew gum and those who smoke. It seems that only breathing is likely to escape their censorious eyes.
I indulge in none of those activities, but am so sick and tired of the curtain-twitchers that I am almost at the point of taking them up merely to show that this is still a democracy. On a national level the aggressive intolerance of the minority is becoming ever more prevalent. A couple of days ago I wrote of the action by the National Secular Society which has succeeded in preventing Bideford Town Council doing something it has done for centuries – holding a short prayer service at the start of its meetings. The atheist former councillor who pressed the case argued that the council had no right to “impose” its religious views on him, conveniently ignoring the fact that no one had forced him to attend the prayers, and failing totally to see that it was he who was seeking to impose his views on others, not the other way round.
And such busybodies find easy victims amongst a wide range of organisations. In recent months we have had bans on staff wearing crosses and badges, even on people reading bibles at their desks during lunchhours. It was undoubtedly the growing tendency of the bossy ones to mind other people’s business that led Baroness Warsi to yesterday speak out against what she called “militant securalism”.
It is unsurprising that it has taken a Muslim member of the cabinet to speak out clearly and forcefully on the importance of faith in the life of the nation; followers of Islam tend to be less mealy-mouthed about their beliefs than many Christians. And she is right. Today Lady Warsi is leading a ministerial delegation to the Vatican.
Lady Warsi argues that society will be healthier if people feel “stronger in their religious identities and more confident in their creeds”. That means “individuals not diluting their faiths and nations not denying their religious heritages”. She makes an important point. Whether we like it or not, our history and culture are formed by the Christian faith. It is at the core of who we are. It is too easy to forget this, largely because politically correct fawning by public bodies over the sensitivities of other faiths, and anti-faiths, has left many Christians feeling inhibited about asserting and celebrating their own beliefs. When Royal Mail restored the nativity to its Christmas stamps it seemed to regard it as an act of great bravado, it wasn’t. It was simply a reflection of what most people believe about Christmas.
I cannot claim to be a churchgoer, and rather doubt that to be a true definition of being a Christian. But I have long since lost resentment at dictatorial attitudes by the various faiths, they no longer exist. The days when the Church attempted to ban cinemas and shops from opening on Sundays are but a distant memory. Sadly its example of increased tolerance is not being followed by others.
If democracy is your thing it is impossible to do other than admire Baroness Warsi. She has warned of the dangers of instincts that are “deepy intolerant” and has pointed out that such attitudes have historicaly been the hallmark of totalitarian regimes. She was basing her attack mainly on intolerance as it effects religious beliefs, but she could equally have been speaking of any form of intolerance, any form of unacceptance of what others do.
Always provided that what they do does not harm others, everyone should be free to do, wear or say whatever they wish. And all those who try to impose their codes on others should do us all a favour. They should improve their self understanding and shut up once and for all!
THINGS PEOPLE SAID ABOUT APPEARANCE; ”Charles de Gaulle looks like a female llama surprised in her bath”….Winston Churchill “Andre Gide was very bald with the general look of an eldery angel travelling incognito”….Peter Quennell “Glamour is that indefinable something about a girl with a big bosum”……Abe Burrows “People on horses look better than they are, people in cars look worse than they are”……Marya Mannes “I never forget a face but in your case I’ll make an exception”…..Groucho Marx “My genitals are like a sort of travel version of Linford Christie’s”….Frank Skinner “Ian Hislop looks like King Edward – the potato not the monarch”…..Paul Merton “He had a smile on his face but it was as thin as airline coffee”…….Kinky Friedman “Where lipstick is concerned, the important thing is not colour, but to accept God’s final word on where your lips end”…….Jerry Seinfield