Lots and lots of thoughts floating around. There always are, of course, but these current ones are particularly depressing.

I suppose I've just been wondering - and at this point cynics may choose to roll their eyes - if it is actually possible for human beings, as a whole, to get on with each other. It seems to me that as long the limits of our tolerance aren't being pushed, we're quite happy to smile at and be friendly with one another, but all that warmth evaporates precisely when it's put to the test. And I never cease to be amazed by the depth and ferocity of the hatred that is left in its place. It's a scary, in-bred hatred. The sort that makes you consider if we wouldn't be better off degenerating into single-celled organisms and starting all over again.

What's worse is when fairly intelligent people - people who really should know better - try to legitimise and rationalise their many hatreds by using terms like 'freedom of speech', 'religious beliefs' and 'cultural differences'. They tend to be people who know how to shout very loudly and are adept at using words to fulfil their own hypocritical, self-serving agendae. Unfortunately, the words they use are also our labels for all sorts of values which we quite rightly hold dear. And when the words are abused, then surely we are all insulted and we are all lessened.

I prefer not to shout. I suspect that's actually true of most people. But I also suspect that shouting's very much 'in' at the moment. It's brash, it's thoughtless, it's usually emotive yet lacking in substance, it's unsophisticated and it's curiously childish. So I guess that puts it in the same broad category as current cultural treasures like reality TV, manufactured pop music and computer-game-style news bulletins. I just hope that when the shouting dies down (and surely, one day, it'll have to... won't it??!?) there'll still be enough of us non-shouters left. And that we'll still be doing our best to say what we have to say responsibly and with an awareness of our own shortcomings.

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