Sense is the victim when sabres are drawn

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“Have you noticed how policemen in riot gear look and act the same the world over? It’s no coincidence. They have been selected and trained to be that angry person,” writes “The Gadfly” columnist ROBERT MACKLIN. 

AS the sabres of war, both hot and cold, rattle in their Middle East and North Pacific scabbards, it’s probably worth a glance at the other side of the nationalist coin that’s funding the disruption.

Have you noticed, for example, how policemen in riot gear look and act the same the world over? It’s no coincidence. They have been selected and trained to be that angry person. When and if they get together no doubt they get along just fine. They talk the same language (albeit in different accents), and hold similar views about society and its values.

They are not alone. The same could be said for many of our professions and vocations. Doctors, for example, barely recognise territorial barriers in their desire to heal the sick and wounded. Academics and scientists habitually combine their mental resources to crack the problems of their exploratory disciplines. They exult in the notion of standing on the shoulders of giants from all parts of the globe.

Leaders, be they royals, dictators or vaguely elected interlopers are part of the one club. They are only truly happy talking to each other. Look at Donald J Trump, for example, he’s so thrilled to have slid in the back door he can barely contain himself. 

Journalists and authors in my experience are very similar the world over. They generally have an obsession with the truth of the matter though they might approach it in different ways. All journalists everywhere despise those who leave their ranks for the dark side (and all are addicted to gossip). While writers are big on schadenfreude as in Gore Vidal’s famous line: “Every time a friend succeeds I die a little”; but underneath it’s us against apathy, the cliché and the mediocre. 

True artists across the board are very similar in their values.

Indeed, I’ve often thought that the arts departments should swap personnel with Defence. In a trice, the arts community would get more funding and the world would suddenly become a much more peaceable and entertaining place.

This supra-territorial approach also applies to tendencies in larger populations. The horrors of colonialism, for example, were perpetrated by most of the European powers in much the same manner. And the Chinese in Tibet and the Indonesians in West Papua today are heading in precisely that direction with identical excuses.

And so it goes for the fairytales that rejoice in the nomenclature of “religion”. The priestly class and their abuses haven’t changed their ways since the pharaohs, and their followers wipe away a tear and follow in their wake, chasing the tale that promises life after death. 

You only have to hear the latest news from drought-wracked NSW, where the Anglican clergy are actually organising farmers to pray for rain.

What harm can that do? I hear you ask. Well, certainly not as much as the song we used to sing at Methodist Sunday School about us “Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before…” 

Alas, war and religion are old bedfellows; just ask the generals who religiously embed them to somehow give heavenly permission for the slaughter. 

But here’s the thing: in those armies on both sides of the trenches are  policemen, lawyers, doctors, academics, war correspondents and putative novelists feverishly taking notes. 

If the sabres are actually drawn many, perhaps all, would be wiped out.

Doesn’t really compute, does it?

robert@robertmacklin.com 

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Robert Macklin
Journalist and author. Contact robert@robertmacklin.com

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