I am rather ashamed of myself. Some poor soul, caught in terminal despair, threw themselves in front of a train just north of Euston yesterday. The whole network was closed down. No trains in or out. I was trying to get back home after a family funeral. I couldn’t help but notice how my personal frustration seemed selfishly more important than the despair and death of this person I had never met. I hung my head.
Thousands of people rushed to find other trains out of London. I got to Marylebone where a seriously crowded platform of people used their elbows and anything else to hand to get on a slow train heading north. I wriggled as far as I could up the platform and found a tiny space just inside a pair of doors as they closed.
The crowd inside the carriage slowly adjusted itself and I settled myself for two hours of standing and being jostled. About 20 feet from me was a heavily pregnant woman; also standing and being jostled. I noticed gratefully that it was a ‘Quiet Carriage”. But I could see too that it was a ‘cross carriage’.
People were more irritated to be crammed in than they were to be grateful to be on a train at all.
I knew what I ought to do. I ought to call out in a loud (but non-threatening) voice to ask if there was anyone in the coach willing to give up their seat to a pregnant woman. I think five years ago, I would have done it without a further thought. But now I hesitated. What if my rather chronic eyesight misled me and she was heavily overweight and not pregnant after all? I would be humiliating her instead of helping her.
Who was I to give moral advice to a coach full of cross people? Why was I the only one who had noticed? I suddenly remembered the man who had raised his voice on a train to read from the Bible. He had people screaming in fear and calling the police as they felt ‘threatened.’
If I raised my voice in a crowded and cross carriage, even with the intention of asking for help for a pregnant women, would someone somewhere experience it as a hate crime?
How high was the proportion of snowflakes in this carriage? Even as I told myself this was rationally stupid, I realised that the months and years of propaganda had got to me. I was no longer sure that the public I was part of shared my ethical priorities.
The train drew into a station, and the woman seated in front of me, looked up, and indicated she was about to leave. There were about 4 of us in unpleasantly close proximity to her, but she chose to offer to offer me her seat. I said, “thank you, but I can’t accept it – can you offer it to the pregnant women down the aisle over there.” “Heavens”, she said, going red, “I never even saw her- can you get her attention”?
Well then it did get embarrassing. The pregnant lady was determined to keep the new ‘no eye contact in public rule.’ I had to slowly raise my voice to get her attention. Luckily the people next to her prodded her and smiled genially, pointing at me, standing guarantor for sanity and safety.
“We’ve got a seat for you if you want it” I shouted. Not all the other bystanders were pleased as she, and her vulnerable womb, pushed and pulled her way through the crowd. She looked as surprised as she was tired, as she was grateful.
And the train continued; the carriage still crammed and cross, and I wondered why the chivalry and the courtesy that would have been normal in my childhood and until recently was so problematic today.
I thought it had something to do with the difference between the French and Russian Revolutions and Christmas. Each stand for different ways of changing our behaviour.
This politically correct ‘equality’ stuff, with its roots in left wing revolutions, is all about making, forcing, even shaming people into behaving differently, and then redistributing power.
And if you get the words wrong, (people of colour) or send out a University Christmas wish for a ‘white campus this Christmas’ (shame on white privilege everywhere you supremacist), or don’t think changing the age-old definition of ‘marriage’ will have good outcomes (you fascist bigot), you need to be very afraid, because if you don’t change, ‘they’ will try to make you change.
Christmas tells a different story. It tells us that a deeper moral change comes from encountering the Presence who loves us, instead of threatening us; Who comes to find us instead of shaming us; who comes to change the human heart by offering it compassion and forgiveness instead of forcing and humiliating us. Christmas is ‘God with us’ rather than the ‘state over us.’
If the PC equality revolution worries you at all – slip along to a church at midnight on Christmas Eve, and find out how real light and real love pierces human darkness; how a revolution of loving and being loved in your soul is not only better for you, but more effective help for a wounded world.