Letters & Opinion

Of Dis and Dat(part 16)

Image of Nahdjla Bailey
By Nahdjla Bailey

WHOA! OMG! (and, incidentally, anytime I use that expression, the ‘G’ is always voiced as either ‘Gosh’ or ‘Goodness’. Usually ‘Gosh’.) Well, wasn’t it a welcome relief to see and hear how the Parliament was ‘helevated’ last week, without exception? Or almost so! I felt there was one who didn’t quite make it, one for whom it seemed to be a physical, social, psychological and spiritual impossibility to enter fully into the spirit of the day. He dangled on the periphery of the unwritten, lofty atmosphere of the Chamber, but did not quite get there. For he is forever on the warpath, isn’t he?

Then there was that other prominent one whom, many felt, although high-sounding and striking a rare, somewhat conciliatory tone, was being hugely hypocritical, given that he was, just some days earlier, doing his accustomed divisive turn, looking his usual hatefully incensed self, and lashing out almost apoplectically at the other side, mainly the PM, and so should therefore not be taken seriously. You may find it hard to believe, but I said I didn’t think he should simply be dismissed on the basis of his usual infamous manner of conducting himself, but should be given the benefit of upcoming encounters in the House to prove that his words and exhortations on that special occasion were not just empty, insincere things. Yes, I did, and we shall certainly be watching him, as the others. Everyone knows that some of the things I detest most about the upsetting contributions in the House are firstly the intense decibel levels at which they are pitched; then yes, the blatant hypocrisy; for sure, the butchering of Her Majesty’s English; and of course the never-varying, clear lack of class.

Now, please bear with me as I digress for a bit on the subject of Class. I refer above to the positive, personal quality or attribute which we can all appreciate when we come across it in individuals from whatever stratum of society, as opposed to the ascribed status given to one for having been born into a certain societal group sharing a common social and economic status. However, I wish here to make a point concerning the latter denotation of the word and the fact that it appears to be making a negative comeback in these days of glaring identity politics, the word being weaponised in a whole new way. At a recent public gathering we were treated to an intellectualised – and somewhat hypocritical perhaps? – example of that, even trumping race and slavery.

But do we have to go down that road again? I know that it is one of the stickiest factors for some as it immediately engenders in them, deep feelings of inferiority and insecurity. At the same time, I know of so many for whom it turns out to be an artificial, not real, division which does not restrict them, especially in the social sense. Further, these days, what with the tons of new money around, and seemingly obtained almost overnight, it has become less and less of a meaningful factor. Mobility is, for all intents and purposes, the order of the day.

Of course, it will never fully cut across the societal spectrum, and who are we to insist that there be just one class of citizen, when the Good Book itself tells us that Jesus taught, “The poor you will always have with you…” And careful now before you jump to hurried conclusions. Be sure to complete the sentence because that is where the thrust of it lies: “…therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in your land.” And so, may I be so bold as to add, “as well as your heart, your time, and your talent…” Then the divisions will keep on crumbling in significant and visible ways. So let’s go easy on the ‘intellectual’, activist rhetoric, and concentrate on doing our part in engaging the poor as we follow His command – or for whatever other worthy reason we may have.

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