The grievance culture

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I think there should be an expiry date on grievances. Psychologically it makes no sense to get hung up on some real or perceived insult or wrong-doing that has been done to you. At some point you simply have to move on.

A couple of years ago I saw a TV program in which a forty-year-old man claimed that his sports teacher had once called him ‘Chicken Legs’ in gym class. The man attributed his failure in life to this childhood ‘trauma’. Chicken legs told the interviewer that until the sports teacher knew what he had done and apologized for it he couldn’t move on in life.

So the teacher was tracked down and Chicken Legs sent him a letter, laying out his grievance. The teacher promptly replied and said that he was unable to remember him, nor the time he had called him ‘Chicken Legs’. Still, he apologized anyway and hoped that CL could get on with his life.

The teacher’s letter was kind but I could imagine his thoughts as he wrote it: ‘A 40-year-old who man who still hasn’t got over a throw-away comment made at school 25 years ago! That’s amazing!’ Actually, it’s pathetic. When I think of all the genuinely awful things that happen to children and adults every day around the world I have a desire to shake Chicken Legs by his scrawny neck and shout, “For christ’s sake, GROW UP AND BE A MAN!

I feel the same about black Americans who blame their dysfunction on the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in the south. The truth is that if it were the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow that was causing the high crime rates, low academic achievement and high rates of illegitimacy among blacks today, surely blacks who lived closer to the era of slavery would have been even more dysfunctional, wouldn’t they? The answer is that current black dysfunction has nothing to do with the legacy of the slave trade and everything to do with bad liberal policies, which treat blacks as victims. This stokes a culture of grievance among present-day blacks that men such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are only too pleased to exploit.

The same goes for Palestinians. It has now been 65 years since Israel was created and Palestinians were driven out of their homes during the war in which Israel was attacked by three neighbouring Muslim countries. Other people, like Germans who were evicted from Western Poland and the Sudetenland after World War II, have long since come to terms with the new status quo. They no longer carry around the keys to their old houses and wave them angrily in people’s faces. I feel the Palestinian man in the picture, whose old house must have had a very big lock, should also move on.

Yet 65 years on Palestinians sit in refugee camps, all paid for by the UN. Here they wait for the international community to give them money and hope that they can terrorise the West into taking the Palestinian side in the argument, something that is actually working.

Whether any of these people have a genuine grievance against Israel depends on your point of view. Either way, holding a grudge for so long is a stupid way to live your life. Forgetting and moving on would come as a blessing to such people and help them to start new lives. Alternatively you can waste your life and at the same time be an annoyance to others by constantly dwelling on the past.

It has to be said that the Palestinians aren’t alone to blame for their plight. In refusing to let the refugees become citizens of their countries, the neighbouring Arab countries, who attacked Israel and caused the flight from Israel, are now contributing to the Palestinian problem. Yet the Palestinians don’t help themselves when they refuse to make peace with Israel. Israel has offered peace and a two-state solution many times over since its creation 1948. It is the Arabs who won’t accept a solution that leaves a Jewish state in place the Middle east, no matter how small. With such an attitude, no solution to the problem is possible – unless Iran manages to do what it has promised and wipes Israel from the map. That, of course, would solve the problem once and for all.

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