Monday, 13 November 2017

Did a cat get my tongue? No, my thoughts did.

There is freedom of speech, and there is freedom of criticism, and I am learning that these are powerful, but must be wielded responsibly. It isn't easy, but I hope I will get there.

I admit that I got angry when I watched the excellent Channel 4 documentary 'Britain's Forgotten Army', which was part of the Remembrance Weekend to remember the dead of both World Wars, because it was horrifying to learn that the men of the Chinese Labour Corps were not only omitted from official histories and school history books and the like, but that there were also questions of how they were recruited (spoiler: shockingly), how they were treated (spoiler: appallingly), and how China was treated in the aftermath of the First World War. It was horrible to realise just how deeply racism was institutionalised not just in Britain, but in France and the US, and until that documentary, I truly had scales on my eyes where institutionalised racism was concerned.

I have lived with white British people for a very long time. White doctors and nurses helped and continue to help my parents. I went to school and played with white people. I work with white people, and socialise with them. My family lived with white people for generations. White people are even part of my family. So, I will not and cannot accept that all or even most white people, especially in Britain, are racists and/or smug, paternalistic, condescending, colonialist gits and bastards.

But I just could not understand why the Chinese Labour Corps and China were treated so badly, and in the heat of the moment, I tweeted and tweeted. I woke up the next day to replies.

And then I realised that I had to be tactful. I was upset, but so were others; we have all been told lies and omissions. Making each other even more upset was not going to solve anything. So I decided to cool down, think about what I wanted to say and why, and I realised that it would be better if I emailed.

I know that we are living in the age of openness, but with openness there should still be consideration of how someone else is feeling, and that it does no-one any good to upset others. It is not political correctness, or self-censorship, but how I was brought up. Confucius said, 'Don't do to others what you don't want others to do to you', and I think Jesus said something similar: 'Do unto others as you would have them do onto you', and on that basis, I have restrained myself from putting down all my thoughts on my blog.

Anyway, I have responded. Fingers crossed something will come of it. Oh, and if you have the chance, catch 'Britain's Forgotten Army'. It's that good.

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