Once in a while my good friend Campbell or Camp as everyone knows him goes off on a soliloquy or monologue, usually classified as a diatribe. Since this is not a discussion with differing points of view but a sermon aimed at a choir of one – me – I find it easiest to listen and look out the window at the water, the gulls and boats and let him get it off his chest. It went something like this:
‘Censorship, repression, prohibition, incarceration, torture and death are some of the tools traditionally associated with dictatorships, even before roman times, until today. What has changed are subtleties. We now have selective censorship and fake news, social media manipulation and repression of minorities not only in dictatorships like North Korea and Zimbabwe but definitely in China, Cuba and present-day Russia and also more and more in so called democracies like the USA, Poland, Hungary, to name a few. In fact, some form of media manipulation and minority repression, state propaganda and history revisions have snaked their insidious tentacles into every form of society. Granted, the rule of law which is paramount in a free society is always under attack from infiltration and subversive elements to right wing demagogues and religious zealots. And in the Arab world the rule of law has been replaced with the harsh religious sharia laws which take those societies back to stone age justice and medieval mindsets and practises. Just look at Afghanistan, one year after the Taliban takeover.
We, the informed and educated individuals need to be vigilant and alert. We cannot listen to rumours and heresy and we need to factcheck and verify all suspect theories and proclamations from governments, the media and even our friends and neighbors. We need to be able to disseminate fact from fiction, truth from lies and propaganda from information. Not an easy task but elemental if we value our modern, open society and lifestyle. Therefor we must at all cost hold our journalists and media to the highest standards of their craft and we cannot succumb to mediocrity. Freedom and individual choices are dependent on honest dialogue and truth, as in facts and science.
We cannot accept movements and people who only follow their own exclusive agenda; we cannot condone religious and political cults and we must not follow and support so-called leaders who do not have the common good as their main principle to guide them.
Let us listen and demand answers where there is doubt and missing information, let us be brave and question official versions of events if they don’t ring true and let us work together, help one another and be open and inclusive. Only then can we progress and move forward as a society and only then can we lead our children into a better world.’
‘Amen’ I said.
‘Thanks for listening. Nobody else does and sometimes I feel like if I’m sitting alone in a room atop a tower with no doors but windows that let me see far and wide.’
‘I’d like to rescue you and bring you back down to earth, into this pub, for a pint or two, an occasional laugh and a reprieve from the harsh world out there.’
Just in perfect timing Vicky appeared with two cold ones. ‘I hear you’re going to Europe next week she asked me.’
‘Yes, I am. Where did you hear that from?’
‘Nothing that you do goes unnoticed,’ she smiled and ‘Clare and I meet at yoga every week. Once in a while your name comes up.’
‘Is there noting sacred,’ Camp asked. ‘Two fellows enjoying a peaceful pint is surely not newsworthy.’
‘No, but the fact that one of you will be in Switzerland and England next week is.’
‘Will you miss me,’ I asked sheepishly.
‘Of course I will and I’ll make sure Camp here doesn’t drink for both of you.’