Toxic Divide

OK so the last rant was a bit negative and I’m still at a loss but the focus has to be on finding hope. I’ve been reading articles that argue that we shouldn’t be focusing on dialogue with fascists; we have to repudiate them.

For me this has an interesting dynamic. For my sins, since I retired (fired the boss, see last blog) I decided that I’d always loved woodwork cos my father had a workshop, basically focused on his venerable 48-foot plus bowsprit wooden yacht that had the distinction of coming second in a transatlantic race sometime in the past, sorry I was never that interested but all our summer holidays involved crossing the channel and stopping in at ports along the Brittany coast and then sailing back again.

So, here we are in the twenty-first century (blimey, really? seems only yesterday) in 2009 and I decide to make bespoke furniture. Never made furniture in my life before apart from a thing that supported the telly for a long time and – since the telly now hangs on the wall – still supports various hi-fi & video accoutrements anyway this thing was made from MDF painted black and done with very rudimentary tools back in the mists of time…Pasted Graphic.png

My father had, as I recall, one power tool. It was an electric drill, which doubled as a paint stirrer. One of my emotional/diplomatic successes was when I was asked what I wanted for my 21st birthday and I said I would like a power drill please. Subsequently I discovered they were particularly proud of that.

But in 2009 I was introduced to Axminster Power Tools and basically bought the shop – a bandsaw, a table saw, a planer/thicknesser, the H&S stuff and so on and discovered birch plywood which is THE most wonderful material for making furniture.

Oh dear, but this is good background. Fast forward. My husband keeps telling me I need to get a lathe. WTF is a lathe?

Brown and round. And I see the Berkshire Woodturners at various fairs and join them in 2011 and I’m now their treasurer, membership person, newsletter editor and now website updater and zoom host. At last I’d found my spiritual home, a bunch of guys who love their craft and treat me like a real human being.

But in June 2017 I went on the People’s Vote march in London which coincided with a local craft fair we took part in, with a lathe under the gazebo turning spinning tops for the kids. So I help set up on the Saturday and then go off to the march. Then I turn up on the Sunday and get the democracy lecture and with that pall you get when something drops out of your world I realise that these people, my friends, the bunch of guys that I felt safe with, were predominantly Daily Mail readers who ipso facto voted Brexit! They are on the other side of the toxic divide and that makes them, in a very real way, orthogonal to what is obvious to me.

So, what is the way forward? To try to persuade them to change their mind? I can see the activists trying to change the minds of total strangers with facts and figures and cast-iron logic but you soon find that even logic is by no means universal. My obvious isn’t the same as your obvious. 

The truth cannot be spoken. Three-word slogans can appear to encapsulate it but as anyone who watches tabloid headlines will have seen, they carry a value judgement. Value judgements are orthogonal to truth. No dimension in common. I’m screaming into the void: WHAT DOES IT TAKE?

So, while the individual who made the mistake of giving me the democracy lecture will never be forgiven – although I can mitigate his error by the usual (reluctant) ploy of assuming his intellectual faculties are deficient – I have settled on the gentle project of listening, and learning not to intervene when ‘better in my day’ and ‘young people nowadays’ comes up in our zoom coffee mornings. And I was pleased with a success the other day when I ventured that the UK’s vaccine rollout was very impressive. It shows them I’m human. And at the same time I was delighted that someone else ventured that it was good to be rid of Trump and everyone else joined in in agreement.

Whether they will speak for me when I’m taken away is still something that I would not venture to try to establish, but with COPD I wouldn’t last long under torture anyway.

One comment

  1. You are absolutely right but it is so hard. There is this idea that one should be able to discuss different points of view but realistically, people aren’t going to change their minds and they are clearly a nice bunch basically. And some of them an older generation probably and we all know that every generation has its certainties which can’t be shaken by younger ones Sounds like your woodworking skills (not to mention all the literary and IT ones) are zooming ahead! X

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