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  • Writer's pictureJack Martindale

2021: please end COVID and bring back discussion

As a general rule, I’ve always really looked forward to and enjoyed the entire festive season. I’m lucky in always having been surrounded by an incredibly large extended family on the sides of both of my parents, with what I’d class as having the perfect level of closeness. By this, I mean in terms of the fact that everybody seems to be respected as an individual for who they are and although we’d all be rush to offer support to one another in terms of need, we don’t live in each other’s pockets. Everybody needs to have their own space and to have their own opinion respected, without the just being challenged; especially in a way in which people so often make belittling or patronising.

I use the example of an extended family being able to get on and genuinely like and enjoy the company of as opposed to simply tolerate one another is fantastic and it’s not even difficult to achieve. This is why I’m ever more staggered and appalled at the fact that society appears to be increasingly incapable of entertaining the fact that opposing viewpoints can be equally valid. Whilst I would say that largely my blood relations are singing from a similar hymn sheet politically, this is not true when extended family are also thrown into the mix. Well that’s inevitable. And also, I feel that they’d be something incredibly unnatural and not to mention creepily sanitised – verging on coming across as incestuous – if this were not the case. Respecting other people’s views regardless of whatever ideology, conscious or unconscious, that they may have, has to be the only way to progress.

Whereas I feel that this quality of toleration of other opinions is ever more being lost. It feels as though we have ever more become like pack-animals, in terms of herding off and filtering down our relationship with the outside world to be seen through the context of people who have a similar perspective to our own. Channeling media to cater for your outlook always existed to a certain degree i.e. for the left there was the Guardian and for the right there was the Telegraph (or Torygraph as my own political leaning would beckon me to label the Home Counties’ mantra). Only now with the ease though which social media has allowed us to pronounce our opinions within the spectrum of the entire globe. A fight for purity seems to have been launched in terms of advertising yourself. This has seemed to imbue opinions voiced being loaded with an ever more moralistic standpoint.

I’d never claim to be innocent of at times in the past of feeling caught-up in this quest of somehow fuelling a desire to prove a point in the artificial and unnatural setting of the cyber ether. Such a large extent of posts we read are based in launching disdain over the state of the world in accordance to how people have acted i.e. Brexit, Trump etc. etc. Whether or not I may agree with their overall sentiment, it feels lazy, not even to mention childish to vilify swathes of people for having acted in a way that opposes your own ideals.

Empathising with people is surely far healthier than demonising. Hating is often far easier than it is to understand. I only need to think of subjects that I didn’t like at school to be reminded of how they were nearly always things where understanding did not come with such ease as with subjects that I liked; to me this just cements the concept of hatred of something representing an easier get-out clause than working to grasp it.

This is how I so think that we just need to be able to step away from the judgement that COVID has made it so easy for us all to feel that we have a license to view people in accordance to how they navigate this testing time. A New Year’s resolution almost felt pretty indulgent this year; giving the desperation that I felt we all must feel towards abating the current global crisis. But if there’s one thing that I’d like to see happen, is people being able to get along and enter into debates as in times past without a prerequisite of what they should say or think that is governed by people who think in similar ways flocking exclusively together as a sad army. I just hope that we can all find room for entertaining a dichotomy of different opinions without the urgency of shooting one another down.

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