I was born in 1955, into a world where we believed fascism had just been defeated. Britain and its allies had just fought a war against Nazi Germany; Hitler was dead. Fascism was dead.
But it wasn’t. It just went below the surface, and now I see it spreading like a quiet cancer through a generation who don’t understand where it can lead.
I have deliberately not looked up the formal definition of fascism, because for me, its defining traits are:
- A belief that you belong to a group which is superior to (and should rule over) all other groups – however you define that superior group (nationality, religion, gender, even economic theory – it doesn’t matter what the labels are.)
- A belief that this superior group has lost (or is about to lose) the dominant place it is entitled to hold in the world.
- A belief that the decline of your group’s fortunes, and all the problems and injustices suffered by you and those you identify with, are caused by some other group or groups of people (however you define those ‘other’ groups of people).
- A belief that cutting yourself off from, persecuting, oppressing or even exterminating these malignant ‘other’ groups of people will resolve all your problems.
I believe the path of love goes more along the lines:
- I am intensely proud of who I am and the culture that made me. But neither I nor the culture I belong to are perfect. We are both constantly learning and evolving. That’s what I love about it.
- There is only one planet Earth and our long-term survival depends on a better understanding of how we share its resources with everyone and everything else that lives on it
- There are other groups of people who define themselves differently, have a different history and a different world view. We need to learn from each other, and learn how to live peacefully alongside each other.
- If other groups are closed, suspicious, hostile, we must seek ways to communicate and persuade them of the power of love. We must understand why they are closed, suspicious, hostile. We must build trust. Seek truth and reconciliation. We must be strong but not aggressive. Tolerant but not amoral. Outspoken but not disrespectful. Just but compassionate.
Love is not easy. Hate is easy. It’s so convenient when someone presents you with a scapegoat to slaughter. Frees you from the obligation to think about complex and difficult issues to which there are no “right” answers.
We fought wars to preserve our freedom to determine our own destiny. We should take that responsibility very seriously. I do not want to bequeath a country or a world dominated by bitterness, hate and mistrust to future generations.