We live in dark times.
A great struggle is taking place. It’s a struggle between world views, between genders, between extremist attitudes, a struggle which has brought the level of debate to a new low. Never before has an intellectual struggle become so divisive, so bitter, so unpleasant. And I have to live with it every day.
“No!” my daughter shouts. “Yes.” My son retorts. “No!” My daughter insists. “Yes.” “No!” “Yes.” “No!” My daughter flails out to try and strike her opponent. Luckily she’s strapped into her car seat.
My son starts giggling. “No, I not funny!” My daughter yells. “Yes, you are funny.” My son retorts. “No, I not funny!!” my daughter bellows. This great debate goes on until my son leans too close, goading his opponent, and catches a flailing hand to the cheek. He retreats to nurse his wounds.
On to the next arena of conflict. The scene, a pleasant cafe at a national trust site. The audience, a large number of sensible, mild mannered middle aged people. Also my children’s mild mannered aunty and uncle, visiting from a long way away.
“Where’s Aunty gone?” My daughter asks loudly.
“She’s gone to the toilet.” I say, mouthing the last word as quietly as I can so as not to embarrass any one.
“Is she doing a wee-wee?” My daughter asks very loudly.
“No.” My son says, more loudly. “She’s doing a poo-poo!”
“Wee-wee!” My daughter shouts. “Poo-poo!” My son shouts back, raising the volume still further. “Ssssssh.” I suggest.
“The debaters jump off their chairs and start running after each other up and down the cafe, shouting at the top of their voices. “She’s doing a wee-wee!”. “No! She’s doing a massive poo-poo!”. “Wee-wee!”. “Poo-poo!” I chase the debaters around the cafe, suggesting they should not shout. They disagree. The audience do not look particularly enlightened by the content of the discussion.
Their aunty returns from the toilet. They very, very loudly ask her to settle their disagreement.