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“Love Triumphs: Finding Harmony Amid Ideological Conflict”

Love, it is said, can cover a thousand sins. Or it might be a hundred – I’m not sure. I’m not great at remembering these things, but the key point is that love is intended to be a positive thing. That we want, as a species, to support, encourage and care for each other is generally seen as a very good thing. And so it should be: the opposite of loving people – as philosophical a point as it is – is believed by some to be hating people.

So, here’s a really important question. If you could bottle up all the love that exists in the world, how big would that bottle be? Love between family members – smiling and encouraging each other, praying for and supporting each other, giving critique gently, wishing the very best and so on – or love between friends, or work colleagues or the beggar on the street, dying after sleeping rough in temperatures of minus degrees, with their now damp sleeping bag bringing on the onset of hypothermia. Talking about love at this time of year is allowed – because it is Christmas, when we are supposed to love each other. How big would the bottle of love be?

“How big is the bottle of hate, of anger, of rage?”

To be honest the question of how big is the bottle of love is irrelevant if you don’t ask the opposite question: “How big is the bottle of hate, of anger, of rage?” There’s plenty of that around as well. Hate, despising others, seeking to bully and shout others down, death threats against those who disagree, seeking to ensure that your agenda – your human rights, your point of view, your what some would call blinkered and narrow-minded perspective – gets heard loudest and put highest up in the hierarchy of he – or it could be they/she/him I suppose – who shouts loudest gets heard furthest.   

I came back from China to the United Kingdom (UK) just over two years ago now. People were talking about Trump, Russia, Covid of course, and something called the culture wars. There were protests in the United States (US) around the election result, arrests and trials. I needed to do some diversity awareness training, so that I understood what all the letters of the LGBTQ acronym meant, what my legal obligations are around what are called in the UK protected characteristics. These are characteristics that individuals have – age, gender, disability, religion, race, sexual orientation and the dangers of discrimination against them, and unconscious bias – if you haven’t heard the story about the surgeon operating on a child, and the gender assumptions implicit in the punchline, then drop me a line.

Abusing anyone for anything should be unacceptable

Those characteristics should be protected and no-one should be open to abuse because of their age or whatever. Even in what seems to be our value-less societies, i.e. those with very unclear moral values, rather than those where no-one has any value, we can still agree that abusing someone because of their gender or race is unacceptable. In fact, abusing anyone for anything should be unacceptable – and yet, have you seen some of the torrid statements posted on X recently? Funny how we still refer to it as Twitter, even though a characteristic action of a bird has now been replaced by a non-species-based, almost non-binary, name – or maybe I am reading way too much into things.  Online anonymity has enabled hate to increase and our selfishness and love for gossip has made that exciting.

And when I came back, a new word entered my vocabulary and hearing. People started talking about woke. The only context I had heard about woke was in the context of gradually opening my eyes and realising that not only was I awake, but that the world hadn’t been destroyed by Vogons wanting to build a hypergalactic motorway; if you haven’t read the utterly brilliant Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by the now deceased Douglas Adams, then the potential for this to happen may have passed you by.

The battle of wills grows yet stronger

Woke, I came to understand, was a word used by those holding traditional conservative views to describe those seeking, in the view of the former, to push alternative agendas – aggressive feminism, tolerance and more around sexual and gender preferences, and the eradication of anyone who stood in their way. As you can see, there is a conflict – and the potential for hate and the battle of wills grows yet stronger.

Perhaps one of the most evident eruptions of this battle has been seen in what Disney is facing at the moment. In case you have not awoken to see what is happening, let me try to put it like this. Snow White was the first animated film produced by Disney; in 1937 and Disney have wanted to make a live, as in with real actors not cartoons, remake. That causes a problem because having dwarfs – or at least referring to them as dwarves: it is Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, remember? – in a film is no longer a great idea, it seems.

Snow White would not need to be saved by a prince

So, an image emerged of Snow White, played by Rachel Zegler, more in a moment, walking through a field with seven actors, who were certainly not dwarves. I’ll miss out a load of things but to cut to the chase, Rachel Zegler, a pretty new character in Hollywood, went off-script in some of her TV interviews and revealed how excited she was that the new Snow White would not need to be saved by a prince, but instead even the prince might get his scenes cut so that this lady could be the leader that she was born to be.

Indeed, so excited was she/her about this prospect and so clearly was she communicating that kind of agenda, along with wanting extra pay for streaming rights, that the Disney movie suddenly found itself in a load of trouble from the un-woke, and she/her suddenly found herself dropped from nearly every movie she had in her calendar. I heard that she might be available for appearances at school fetes, but am not sure. The release of the Disney movie has been delayed for 12 months – apparently for time to re-edit the movie to salvage some good acting, to insert some computer-generated dwarves and partially as a result of the actors’ and writers’ strikes in Hollywood – and the Daily Wire/BrentKey has embarked on an ambitious remake of the actual original story, dwarves and princes included.

Three superhero females defeating a female villain

Worse still for the much beloved film company, it has become apparent that Disney’s Marvels; the story of three superhero females defeating a female villain, no agenda there, of course, according to Disney’s CEO, has lost Disney a significant amount of money: we’re talking a couple of hundred million US dollars. It seems that the un-woke are avoiding it like the plague and those who they call woke are not seeing it because of a poor storyline.

Traditional conservatives object to what seems to be a very clear feminist/diversity agenda: if you are a fan of South Park, you will know exactly what I am talking about. Sadly, it seems that influential individuals within Disney are happier to lose money pushing an agenda, specifically hiring a 34-year-old black female director for Marvels and a whole load of other movies, than they are telling good stories. Criticising the fans of good storytelling doesn’t help, of course.

A traitor to the cause

 So, where does this leave us? With division, which is sad. The irony is this: the loudest opposition to trans individuals seems to come from feminists, who thus have something in common with traditionalists. Nobody is saying that individuals should not be treated equally. There is the perception from the experience of some that, if you support the diversity agenda but speak out occasionally to give a view that is not mainstream in that community, that the criticism you receive will be absolutely vitriolic – a traitor to the cause in a fight that must be won at all costs.

And even more sadly, the fight does not stop at diversity and equality/inclusion issues: there are battles around environmentalism, around economics, around politics, around abortion, and so on. Maybe there always have been, just that they have been hidden a bit, or that in an era of free public expression, people have felt a new freedom to take to the internet-waves and say exactly what they feel – with no filter and no-one to suggest that respect wins more friends than bullying.

Like all wars, this will be costly: there will be innocent victims, there will be casualties on both sides, and there will be a lot of pieces to pick up afterwards – but will there be an afterwards? An equilibrium? A peace and a ceasefire? It certainly seems that the bottle of anger is so much louder and stronger and more aggressive than that of love. Maybe pouring the latter onto the former might quieten things down somewhat. We could all do with a bit more love in our lives, and we could all do our part in creating that reality.

Happy New Year.

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Dr Peter Morgan is an experienced  management educator and writer, who has travelled widely, and who has worked with companies in the UK, in India and China.

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