If there’s one thing that is guaranteed to get that twitch going in the corner of my eye and cause an involuntary gritting of my teeth, it’s Liberals. Not the members of the political party – even they have had the good sense to change their name to Liberal Democrats- but the other kind. Though it can’t remain unsaid that a lot of the Liberal Democrats could do with a bloody good kicking. Especially Nick Clegg. That man is so spineless that if you delivered him an uppercut under the chin at the top of a flight of stairs, you get the feeling that he would tumble backwards and walk down the stairs end over end like some sort of human Slinky.
Millionaire political ciphers aside though, it’s the do-good, huggy, touchy feely type that set my gorge rising. The people who are so wrapped up in eradicating the prejudices of others that they entirely fail to notice their own. Many liberals would even claim that they have no prejudices and that, to them, all human life is equally valid. They continue to claim this right up until an illegal Travellers’ site comes within 10 miles of where they live, whereupon they are the first signing the petition clamouring for removal of said Gypsies.
Don’t get me wrong. The principles by which liberals claim to abide are, on the whole, noble ones that most of us would like to think we believe in. However, only in principle. The reality is that everyone in the entire world, without exception, is prejudiced. No matter how blind you may be to Race, Colour or Creed, there will be individuals to whom you take an immediate and pretty much irreversible dislike for whatever reason. The way they dress or talk or look maybe. Perhaps their taste in music, wine or sexual partner. Everyone has something which will instantly put them off a person, and in that respect, we are all equal.
Now, I know that this natural human reaction is a spectrum, with the Ku Klux Klan at one end and Ghandi at the other. I’m aware of that. Don’t forget though that even Ghandi, when asked what he thought of Western Civilization replied “I think that would be an excellent idea.” Bit cheeky for a world-wide icon of tolerance.
Let me illustrate the idea I’m trying to put forward here with a suitably fatuous example. Ask yourself this question. Would you ever pick a fight with a Chinese man? Assuming you’re not Chinese yourself of course. Or a liberal. If asked this question, most people would answer no. This is down to the assumption that all Chinese men know Kung Fu.
Kung Fu. Not That Many Pandas Know It Either.
I exclude liberals from this hypothetical situation because they are generally physically weedy and the only fights they pick tend to be in the letters page of The Guardian or at industrial tribunals. I exclude Chinese men because within an ethnic group of well over a billion people, the likelihood of there never being any fist fights is absurdly remote.
The fact is that most Chinese people have no more experience in the Martial Arts than the average liberal. If you don’t count Tai Chi that is, which you really shouldn’t. Not unless you are likely to be attacked by a particularly angry sloth. With a few select pieces of information, it’s easy to see why this is the case.
1) Despite recent leaps in industrial output, the vast majority if China still makes its living via subsistence farming.
2) The population who don’t live in rural areas live in huge, overcrowded, polluted cities
3) The most popular literal translation of Kung Fu is “Leisure Time”
Metropolis living and subsistence farming are not two activities generally considered synonymous with “Leisure Time”. Most Chinese people you meet in Britain nowadays are likely to be either University students or natives of these islands. In both cases, the only contact they are likely to have had with the Fighting Arts will be Judo or Karate lessons down at the local sports centre. Same as everyone else.
I used to share a flat with six other blokes, all of them Chinese. Don’t ask, it’s a long story. Out of the seven of us, only one chap had any martial arts training under his belt. That’s right, me. The others did know an alarming amount about Wham though. Trust me, you’ve never been annoyed until you’ve been annoyed by the Cantonese version of “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” played on an expensive stereo system at 1 O’Clock in the morning.
So, in writing this I have been able to reach the following conclusions:
a) Everyone is, to one extent or another, a bigot.
b) The music of Wham still enjoys inexplicable international popularity.
c) No matter how many times you’ve typed it before, it is impossible to spell the word “Leisure” correctly first time.
d) Liberals are well meaning but can’t see past the ends of their noses.
How useful these conclusions prove to be for society at large, only history will tell
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2013