Let us be British. Which is to be tolerant of everything except intolerance, says Laurence Fox
Laurence Fox reflects on 2022 and looks ahead to the New Year.
And so, we have reached the end of the year. Tonight we are going to look back at some of the wonderful things we have achieved this year, some of the things we have lost and some of the things we might just need to get back.
For the longest time Britain fostered a reputation worldwide as a bastion and bulwark of tolerance, mutual respect, free speech and a constantly evolving progressive mentality, all wrapped up in the royal wrapping paper of stoic traditionalism, a deep respect for the past and those who gave their lives standing against tyranny for our hard fought freedoms.
I remember strolling through a posh supermarket this November, it was late morning and I was selfishly absorbed in my own worries - rounding a corner - I was confronted by a couple, stood stock still, heads bowed, like extras from some sort of strange middle class zombie movie.
It took me a while before I realised what time of day it was - on what day it was - and in what month it was. So i stopped me me me-ing and joined them to remember those ultimate sacrifices - in silent gratitude - at this - the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. A ritual once so common, now receding into the gloomy corridors of time.
These times have become fewer over the years as memories wane, but there are still those who come together and take pause and remember the brave men and women who gave their lives so that Britons never, never, never will be slaves.
Indeed, it is our shared conscience of fairness which is what makes Britain one of the most fiercely progressive nations on earth. William Wilberforce, who said: “One man can change a generation, but he can’t do it by himself” and others lead the way into the abolishment of slavery years ahead of our American friends.
This national character was stoically reinforced by our wonderful and selfless queen, whose loss I don’t think any of us quite understand the magnitude of just yet. I certainly don’t. She personified our National identity and dealt with hardship in a way which inspired awe in so many.
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But a recent addition to the national - and indeed international lexicon of progressivism is a new and imported one - one which is gnawing at the social fabric and our optimism for new beginnings in the coming year. RECREATIONAL OUTRAGE.
I speak of this because the greatest gift 2023 could bring for me, and I suspect many others, is an awakening and a revival of the things that bring us together, rather than an unrelenting laser-like focus on the things which will tear us apart if we allow them.
Recreational outrage began on social media, but very quickly found its way into the mainstream, as journalists - with a few magnificent exceptions - who in the past had to hunt down a story, found that now all they had to do was flick open their phone and see what the internet was recreationally outraged about today.
They could then add their own extra dollop of recreational outrage on top, send it off to the editor, job done and off down the pub for a pint - or nowadays a chai latte in the park with a copy of Ibrahim X Kendis latest masterpiece.
It’s much easier you see to shout loudly about whichever outrage is screeching its way around the internet today than to actually do your job. Perhaps I would hazard a guess as to why so few put up a fight against the covid hysteria, the quality of these experimental gene therapies, the dreadful and tyrannical lockdowns and the cancellation of pretty much all life as we knew it.
I had my own run in with this emerging trend of recreational outrage myself, three years ago come this January, when I made the grave error of standing up for Britain on a BBC show.
The ensuing witch hunt probably played a large part in why I am sat here talking to you, rather than on a film set moaning about tomorrow morning's 5 am pick up.
So as we look forward together to next year, let us remember that some things are crucial to the ongoing health and wellbeing of our wonderful, warm and genuinely progressive nation, and some things are fads - sad phases which come and go.
Perhaps we should start 2023 by being on our own side for once.
Let us look at the things we do well and see how we can improve them even more. Let’s dispense with recreational outrage wrapped up as “being kind”.
Let us be grateful that we are not all the same - we are all different, but we are still, all of us, countrymen and women who have different views and feelings.
We are branches of the same tree, or siblings in the same family.
Let us seek out those we don’t agree with and offer an open mind to them in the hope that we ourselves can have our thinking moved and progressed, not by force or fear of being cancelled, but in love and understanding.
Let us be British.
Which is to be tolerant of everything except intolerance. Let us focus on ourselves and those we love who need us more than ever.
Perhaps that way, we can consign this faddish, un British Recreational outrage to history, where it belongs.
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