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People make peace as much as Politicians

1004 Views 20 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Ciberblade
In the late 1980s I spent a weekend in a place called Benwell in the west end of Newcastle (NE England). It's an area recognised by many in relevant organisations as one of the toughest neighbourhoods in the UK. Because I went up there with a friendly demeanour I was made to feel very welcome and had a really enjoyable time. If I had gone up there with an 'attitude' , and/or been judgemental the minute I got off the bus, concidering the sort of place it is, I would probably have lasted about 5 minutes - because the 'attitude' I'd have got back would have been infinately more - erm - 'up front' than anything I'd have been able to carry off. That was 16 years ago, and I sometimes wonder if these days it's possible to be able to do things like that, and does a friendly approach evoke the same, or are we becoming cynical to all that?

Is the world generally becoming an increasingly aggressive place, where competition is all, and being friendly towards people sometimes isn't enough. Is the whole notion of friendliness seen as a strength or a weakness to be exploited these days? People have to work longer hours in the increasingly competitive work place, to pay ever higher mortgages and a bewildering array of credit agreements, and you wonder what sort of effect that's having on societies as a whole, and how societies interact with each other. We live in a high octane culture where the simple day to day use of words can be taken and twisted totally out of common sense parlance by people who seem on a mission to cripple the basis of any peaceful coexistance - spoken communication.

Is this the Neobrutalism, and is it really possible to "Give peace a chance" in the 'get one over on someone else' culture - or are we just trying to grow flowers on a motorway?
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The problem is, this is the sort of thing that Third world people see when they come here - getting behind the glossy images beamed at them to their home countries via Satellite TV. The simple fact that they are in Britain for whatever reason (College, work etc) might suggest that they are from influential families/positions in their own societies, and you do ask what impression they take home with them. Britain has become a much more aggressive country - certainly over the last 10 years - a lot of which is rooted in the 80s - and there are some pretty unpleasant characteristics about our society that have become quite mainstream these days. Sometimes I think the west needs to look at some aspects of its own, less than perfect, culture before telling others how to live.
20 minutes walk away from the oval office is one of the most poverty stricken and violent urban ghettos in the world, and London has plenty of - erm - 'Non touristy' places a short tube ride away from Downing street. When these people stay here they find out about all this - and the associated problems arising from it all - so what do they say to the people back home after they return? If they're well placed in their own societies their input amongst their people is going to be quite influential. Can we totally blame them for being wary of any western foriegn policy intentions as they see the - sometimes - quite serious iniquities and flaws inherrent in the societies behind all the MTV glamour and edited highlights of western life? Even our own commissioner for racial equality - Trevor Phillips - said yesterday that our ethnic minorities should "integrate with the mainstream", which sends worrying signals to those concerned that there is a push towards a sort of homogenisation, and looking at some of the excesses found in the dominant culture, what do you suppose they think we want to export to them? Have we also reached that point where the whole "me" generation way has become somehow unsustainable, and it's now running up against things in the world that simply won't be entertained by it?
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PS: What, for example, do they think of football hooliganism, or the virtual 'No go' areas some of our city centres become on a friday and saturday night because of all the alcohol related violence? How many of them experience racism during their day to day lives here, and how does that travel on the plane home? Yeah - there are a lot of really cool people who make them feel very welcome, but there are also a lot who aren't! What do they make of the almost daily diatribes about assylum seekers in some of the press, done to such an intensity it HAS had an effect on how some people here regard foriegners. Does this do anything positive in the promotion of trust? I read and remember the stuff of tolerance (Pauline Cuttings book for example, the friendly good naturedness going on in the west during the Lebanese hostage crisis of the late 80s etc) from only a few years ago, and it all seems like a lifetime away. It's like, what happened to the world in the interim?

Ok! - we might get a lot of diplomacy and statements by Politicians etc, but these are the real experiences, of the real, people, who have lived on the cultural frontline of the real UK/West.................And this is the stuff they take back with them!!!

"The battle is getting harder - No one can guide us - Armagideon time!" (Joe Strummer - 1979)
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