The dictionary definition is: characterised by subtle shades of meaning or expression.
Using a thesaurus, one comes up with : fine distinction, subtle, shade, shading, gradation, variation, modulation, degree; subtlety, nicety, refinement, overtone.
Okay, that works for me. As an inkster who writes fantasy, I need to use language that, while still making a point, has shades to it so that it becomes believable. To go extreme will merely turn the reader off and make the writer appear ridiculous.
That’s what I was going to blog about.
Then the attack in Christchurch, New Zealand happened.
At the time of writing, fifty are known to have been murdered. An almost equal number are in hospital, many of whom are suffering life changing injuries. Let’s not mention those who love them and are equally traumatised. Let’s not mention that this happened whilst the murdered and wounded were at prayer in their mosque. Let’s not mention the hate speech that Twitter and Facebook enable. Let’s not mention the legitimacy felt by members of the extreme right to feel it is ‘righteous’ to kill others due to the language of hate and division espoused by the populist leaders of this world whom they follow. Let’s not mention the current occupant in the White House; Steve Bannon; Viktor Orbán in Hungary; Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil; Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, (‘the only extremism that deserves attention is Islamic’). Let’s not mention that, eh?
Well, dear reader, fuck that. (Yes, I am angry.) Let us mention it.
Let us mention that their utterances have made opponents into enemies, (you kill your enemies). Let us mention that their utterances have delegitimised civilised debate and called it weakness. Let us mention that their ill-defined populist utterances have stoked fear where there should be trust.
These ‘leaders’, (I use the term so very, very loosely), must be held to account. There must be no nuance in placing the responsibility at their feet, their mouths and their sorry excuse for a brain.
No nuance here. They are responsible. Hold them and those of their ilk responsible for creating the environment where this can happen. Let us watch them try to scramble away from having any responsibility for what has been done in their name, their beliefs, their utterances. (It’s already happening.)
Finally, I’ll end with mention of an article by Frans de Waal, a Dutch primatologist and ethnologist. In other words, he studies animal behaviour and is pretty good at it. Makes for interesting reading.
In his article, ‘What animals can teach us about politics’, (here) he wrote about the link between our biology and culture, ‘no humans ever existed without biology, nor any without culture.’
He also made numerous points about leadership, bullying and using fear as a coercive leadership tool. Leaders that use the latter tend to reign for short periods of time. Those using more enabling approaches tend to last longer. It is within us all to wish for peace, to be able to get on with our lives without causing harm to others. However, when people feel disenfranchised, powerless, they tend to respond to those who promise to deal with the society that caused that disengagement.
Civilisation is not some outside force: it is us. Social life is very much part of our primate background, as are cooperation, bonding and empathy. This is because group living is our main survival strategy.
Primates are made to be social, made to care about one another and made to get along, and the same applies to us. Civilisation does all sorts of great things for us, but does so by co-opting natural abilities. It works with what we have to offer, including an age-old capacity for peaceful coexistence.
Peaceful coexistence. Lovely phrase that.
Couldn’t be clearer. No nuance there.
J J Mitchell
‘Never leave anyone behind’