Trust or Fear? @elizaphanian @conwayhall @BBCGavinHewitt

I ventured an opinion in my last post on the state of party politics in the current election campaign. Normally I’m more interested in the principles and practicalities of governance itself, but in a democracy we do each have to make a choice occasionally, so picking between party ideologies and “manifestos” – even individuals and policies – does require careful consideration once in a while.

Having posted those opinions, my attention was drawn to several other posts today. The thread that emerged is a recurring one for me.

However dissatisfied we get with the current “political classes” free democracy demands we value that what we have is a free democracy. After all we seem to value that those without it deserve one. Benevolent dictatorship may be the only option that’s better than all the others – nice work if you can get it – but ultimately those we choose to govern us, we must trust.

Scepticism is “de rigeur” for us rational humans, free to doubt or question anything – a no brainer. But it’s not clever or sophisticated to fulfill scepticism with cynicism (hat tip to Sam @elizaphanian), to treat everything as doubtful or untrustworthy or without authority just because as sceptics we are free to do so. In any case where “to be on the safe side” infringed our otherwise reasonable personal liberty, we’d all be in line to denigrate “health and safety gone mad”. (Unintended consequences – think of the cockpit door in #4U9525)

Jim Walsh, CEO of Conway Hall Ethical Society, posted a longer post that @conwayhall tweeted today, extolling trust to slake our ethical thirst. Why should we allow fear to change otherwise hard-won freedoms? Freedoms based on valuing – loving – humanity, not by default fearing and distrusting ourselves. Sure we address specific fears and risks arising as problems requiring solutions, but let’s not revise fundamental freedoms.

Topically enough then, BBC correspondent Gavin Hewitt suggested – “Fear dominating election campaign.” and BBC political editor Nick Robinson opines – “Europe: Why you can believe Blair on this.” Even Blair, demonised for his mis-justified, and possibly mis-guided, campaign into Iraq – whose “unintended consequence” meant we failed to help Syria when it needed us – demands our trust, on balance, in context. It was Slavoj Zizek’s “Empty Wheelbarrow” that first pointed out post-9/11 that we must be more circumspect than to accept decisive (ie divisive) calls to “for us or against us” action justified by palpable fear.

Fear and cynicism must not be allowed to crowd out trust and love; faith and trust in love.

What’s so funny ’bout … again and again.


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