Wednesday 18 June 2014

An ‘Indy’ Guide To Self-Flagellation & Self-Loathing

I was on the London Underground last week when a woman got on at Archway station. She walked through the carriage, placing packets of tissues on the seats between passengers, with a note that read: “I’m a homeless mother of two children and need to support myself.”
My reactions were, in the following order:
1) You’re probably Romanian.
2) You probably stole those tissues.
3) You probably don’t have children.
4) If I wanted tissues, I’d go to Boots.
Congratulation, you’ve matched the internal thought processes of most regular commuters who are plagued by these pests (though thankfully, it’s an Underground issue rather than an Overground issue, in the main).
My first reaction was: "My god. Am I racist?"
Well, no. You’re just observant. But despite that, it seems, you’re exactly the sort of guilt-trippable sucker that con-artists (like this one) rely on.
But to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never uttered a racist remark in my life. Perish the thought. However, later that day, as I blew my nose on a silky Kleenex (50p is a bargain to avoid an awkward silence), I thought of the times my mouth would have disowned my mind if it knew what it was thinking.
You paid her. Thus encouraging her.

Well done, you…

According to a recent British Social Attitudes Survey, one in three of us admits to being racist on some level. It’s fair to assume my tissue issues place me squarely in that shameful third.
My train shame throws into focus where the battle lines against bigotryare really drawn. Certainly not against the “boo hiss!” goons of the BNP. Those pantomime baddies are a clear and present danger. Far more worrying is the unspoken prejudice that informs our interactions with each other. Those daily knee-jerk thoughts that make us judge others, without questioning ourselves for thinking them.
But wait, isn’t this a …

Well, what do you know!
Judging people is a vital survival skill taught to children.
But the gap between judgment and prejudice can be treacherous to navigate. Britain in 2014 is a tolerant place to be. But the Social Attitudes Survey should serve as a wake-up call to us all. Latent, if not blatant, prejudice bubbles beneath the surface of modern Britain.
If we remain blind to our worst instincts and their consequences, we lose the battle at precisely the point where it needs to be won. The next step is to change our thinking long before the words start spilling out our mouths.
You change your thinking if you want to. I'll go on thinking as I do. That way, I'll save 50p.


Bucko said...

My reactions were, in the following order:

1) Fuck off
2) That's it

And if she's selling packets of Kleenex for 50p, they probably were stolen (or she trawls Facebook for the freebies).

Anonymous said...

What our mouths do not know cannot hurt them, Julia.

Ian Hills said...

"blind to our worst instincts", eh? Blind to her real instincts, more like, and brainwashed into self-hatred.

Mr. Morden said...

She was homeless and with kids. My immediate thought ? This is a scam, and NOT a good one.

Social services would not allow kids to live on the streets, they would be taken into care.

As fool and their money, are soon easily parted.

Lynne at Counting Cats said...

Telling the world you handled goods you suspected were stolen.


Anonymous said...

Science has all of us with racist feelings at some level. AP is right to say we need to do some self-examination. At the same time the posturing of political correctness by people who never have to live in areas of immigration and job losses is evil.
Just as AP was being stung on the Tube, I was being shown a club foot on a Portuguese train - the disability owned by a Romanian.

The way out is job guarantee. Then we could genuinely look at such people and say no.

Gildas the Monk said...

Good analysis

JuliaM said...

"And if she's selling packets of Kleenex for 50p, they probably were stolen..."


"Blind to her real instincts, more like, and brainwashed into self-hatred."

Yup, spot on.

JuliaM said...

"The way out is job guarantee. "

From whom..?