Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Imagine if we all got along ... or is that just a fantasy too far?

At first glance you wouldn't think our local political situation had much in common with the bestselling soft porn novel Fifty Shades of Grey. But look closer and you'll see that both are based on fantasy.

Fantasy, as in, a dream of something you don't actually have.

It occurs to me that the phenomenon of Fifty Shades of Grey could only come about in this our western, democratic, free world.

The heroine gets into a strange master-slave, bondage, submission sexual relationship with an extremely wealthy man.

In reality, she's an educated, middle class western woman with freedom to live her life pretty much as she chooses.

I doubt there are many women in Saudi Arabia fantasising about being subjected to the domination of men. They don't need to dream about it, it's their daily life.

I doubt there are many women in countries where female genital mutilation is a common practice, fantasising about being tied up and playfully "abused" by a man.

Fantasy is by definition an expression of something you don't experience in life.

That's probably why there are very few women in the western world who lie in bed at night fantasising about driving, voting or walking around unaccompanied by a male relative.

Similarly, with our politics, certainly at the two extremes, fantasy is the driver. We are permanently stuck in a no-man's land in Northern Ireland.

We're not totally British (don't care what you say, the English will always see us as troublesome, funny-accented bog-trotters when they want to) and we're not entirely Irish (don't care what you say, the southerners will always see us as troublesome, funny-accented, dour-faced bores when they want to).

What drives the "two sides" on the 12th of July at the Ardoyne flashpoint is a fantasy of something they don't have - a world where everyone shares their point of view.

They'll say they want simply to have their point of view respected, but really, what does that mean?

Just because you're not throwing stones at someone doesn't mean you respect them. When your raison d'etre is opposition to another's view point, then respect is really impossible.

Respect demands the ability actually to grasp that another's point of view is just as valid to them as yours is to you.

Not to spout that as a platitude, but really to get it, at a gut level and live accordingly.

If this were the case here, then the Orange Order would stop marching in places where they aren't wanted and the nationalist/republicans would say "C'mon ahead lads, we're away to the beach to have a good time, walk away til yer noses bleed!"

It won't happen. For the Orange Order and their followers, the whole basis of their existence is triumphalism. We whopped yiz!!! Take that! Slap it up yiz!!!

On Facebook someone posted video he'd taken with his phone of an Orange band. They stopped outside St Patrick's Catholic Church in Belfast and rather than marching on, proceeded to march in a circle, banging the drums and playing flutes, cheered on by the crowd.

When some of the heavies realised they were being filmed, they attacked the guy with the phone. Respect eh?

Maybe we need fantasy. Maybe we prefer to have something to dream about.

Imagine if we all got what we say we wanted. Imagine if we had nothing to complain about and no one to blame.

God....that'd be desp'rate.

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