Friday, 17 June 2016


Despite recent events, a better world is possible. 

This has to stop. Now.

It’s 2016. With digital communication, we now have access to more information about different cultures and religions than we’ve ever had before. We have gay marriage, female church ministers and respect for multiple faiths is taught in most British schools.

That’s why the killings in Orlando and the murder of MP and human rights campaigner Jo Cox, dreadful events in themselves, are so appalling.

Really, there should be no excuse today for the ignorance and hatred that led to these tragedies. The potential for informed education, whether through a structured system or on a personal level, is almost limitless. The problems start when unhappy people look for places online to have their prejudices reinforced, and unfortunately there are far too many websites and forums where that’s the case – join the ignorant herd and bleat the same sorry tune.

I live in South London and, as much as there are many decent people here that I have the pleasure of knowing, there’s also an ugly right wing element. There’s a pub at the bottom of the hill where no black faces are welcome. Yesterday, the clientele’s day was made when England beat Wales in Euro 2016, meaning that it was apparently OK to behave drunkenly on the street outside and shout offensive remarks at passers-by. My dream is to sit down with just one of these guys – they’re all men – and through reasoned and intelligent debate, convince them that they could live in a better world. That won’t happen, because a) I know it would become a pointless shouting match and b) they’re perversely proud of being ignorant.

A few years ago I’d arranged to meet a friend for a drink in central London on Saturday. Then the 7/11 bomb attacks happened. We spoke on the phone and wondered about calling it off, but I believed – and still do – that being intimidated into fear is what terrorists and extremists want. So we met up as planned. We were the only people in the pub apart from the barman, which is perhaps why we had such a great time.

I look at the innocence, optimism and multi culturalism in my youngest step-daughter and I know that a better world is possible. Idiots like Nick Griffin are already footnotes in history and Nigel Farage won’t be far behind. I firmly believe that that better world starts at home: grow up in an atmosphere of ignorance and there’s a strong chance that one day you’ll be passing on the same bigoted infection to your own children. It’s not always the case, but I’ve seen it happen too many times on my own doorstep.

Education is the way ahead. Arm yourselves.

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