Dear American cousins – mine and everybody’s.
I know that for many of you Something Bad Has Happened and you’re dealing with feelings of grief, dismay, and shock. Here in Britain we’ve been through something similar recently. A big portion of our society, like yours, prefers dreams to cynicism, hope to apathy, and fantasy to reality. Your demographic, like ours, is made up of the poor, the embittered, the under-educated and the stentorian. At this moment they are crowing. They are celebrating a victory of common sense over political manipulation.
It’s hard to feel empathy for people like these when they’re rubbing their victory in your face. For the last year or so, whenever you’ve tried to present them with facts and evidence they’ve shouted you down. Sometimes they’ve been personally insulting. Sometimes they’ve been violent. Now, in the moment of their triumph, they’re proclaiming their superiority to you – and it’s the triumph of arrogance, abuse and aggression.
These are the people who feel like they’re not heard. There are, of course, good reasons for this. Their arguments are full of holes and their grasp of reality is weak. But now, for a short while, their opinions will see the light of day. For a time, they will have the upper hand, and the light, for many of you, will go out of the world.
As time goes on, and the unreality of their position becomes clear, they will look about them for answers. Things, at first, will go well. They will feel justified in their beliefs. But before long, the hard, empty nature of truth will stare them in the face. The wheels will come off their juggernaut. Odd sounds will emanate from under the hood. Doubts will begin to surface. Fear, and its older cousin dread, will begin to creep in. They will realize that their empty shouting, their logical fallacies, and their painful tautologies will not save them from cold and lonely place they are traveling through to get to their fantasy kingdom. Things will, in short, go wrong for them, as sure as eggs is eggs.
This is when they will need you – and why you need to forgive them.
If we are to survive this – if we are to survive anything in life – it isn’t by playing to the natural division that exists in society. There will always be the thoughtless, the foolish, and those incapable of connecting cause and effect. And there will always be you, good people, who see with terrifying clarity the traps and pitfalls that fill a human life. You breeze contentedly over them while they stumble and struggle through them. It is hard for you, as clever as you are, to imagine living in a world without hope – a world where fantasy, and herd mentality, and shouting into the void seem like the only options. But as hard as it is for you to imagine their worldview, imagine how hard it is for them to see the guide-wires that hang just beyond their grasp.
So forgive them and, if you can manage the effort, try to help them. Because everybody deserves support. And we need something from them – we cynical, liberal, intellectual snobs. We need their hope.
We all need each other.