There is a small, anxious woman who frequents Göttingen city centre, who believes that she is on a mission from God. Wherever she goes, she dispenses leaflets and tracts, pressing them upon passersby and leaving them on seats for bored people to pick up and read. She scurries nervously from person to person, scanning the faces in the crowd for those who have already heartily refused her literature and for those who she may not have tried yet. What she dispenses varies, but mostly she propagates the worst in Pro-Life propaganda. As other folks shed dead skin cells, she sheds copies of a leaflet bearing a colour picture of an aborted foetus, complete with the legend, "My mother murdered me!". . Forgetting about my own views regarding this emotive topic, I find the leaflet to be thoroughly wrong and objectionable.
Pro-Life proponents can put their arguments intelligently, coherently and demonstrate that these are based upon some familiarity with reality, but this is not one of those cases. Where is the advice to some young person who (potentially) will end up having (potentially) ill-advised sex? Where is the information about where to go for reliable and confidential advice regarding contraception and emergency contraception? Where is the evidence that, should one opt to keep an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy, that the writers of the leaflet have advice and support for the new parents, for the pregnant mother or for those considering giving the child up for adoption? Nowhere.
Instead of offering constructive advice and help, instead of suggesting that there may indeed be balm in Gilead, the reverse-side of the picture of the foetus contains an invective to the effect that all abortion, under any circumstances, is wrong and God will hate you if you have any part in it. The End. Oh, I could go on ad nauseam about what is hateful and thoughtless about this approach, but here is neither the time nor the place. The religious foundation which publish this leaflet, suffice to say, seem to have a small problem with people, and also exercise their freedom of speech (just about skirting within the boundaries of the law) by producing tracts suggesting that the Chinese want to take over Germany, that Turks are swamping das Vaterland with the express purpose of leeching welfare benefits from the diligent and good, that gays are decadent underminers of society and that Moslems want to blow us all up. How delightful!
I'm not certain if this woman is a good person, a bad person® or even just your average, all purpose mixture like most of us (with zeal thrown in), but I cannot imagine that she is a very thorough-thinking person. As zealous and as conscience-led as she may consider herself to be, short of her having produced her tracts herself (and even so, not having grounded any of the claims in anything like an argument), she is guilty of merely, and undiscriminatingly, following the herd. Her herd. We all like belonging to a herd (even secretly) and it can be reassuring to be told what to do next and what to believe, but sometimes one just has to use that strange, grey, cauliflower protruberance which grows out of the top of the spinal column and decide for oneself what one believes. This doesn't have to be an intellectual process per se, but a moral one and the watchword for dealing with human matters is respect. Respect for the views of others, respect for human frailty, respect for the choices of others and respect for the idea that maybe, just maybe, one doesn't have all of the facts.
Elsewhere, I have written about my disappointment with and distaste for much of what passes for the anti-fascist movement here in Germany, not what they stand for, but regarding the violence which often accompanies protests and the "If you're not for us IN ALL THINGS then you must be a Nazi!" attitude which many adherents take. There is an awful lot, as with many political movements, which one is expected to accept uncritically. Here, as elsewhere in the world, there is a nice, hazy consensus as to what is right and what all right-thinking people believe even outside the antifa camp.
Outside certain circles, a whiff of right-wingism can have one condemned to the outer-reaches of social hell. When the Iraq war broke out, a great many people took to the streets in protest; there was even a special demo from the schoolkids of Göttingen, with lots of banner-waving and specially-arranged police outriders. At parties, people would very pointedly refuse to drink Pepsi or Coke on account of these being US products. I was asked, by an earnest friend, why us Brits were so warlike and violent. The icing on the cake was being followed out of the Freibad one day by a gaggle of schoolboys who had overheard us speaking in... gasp!... English, language of all known oppressors, and them telling us that we were stupid and had a bad Prime Minister (little f****rs). This all died down eventually, but I was given pause for thought yet again that a consensus can be a mindless and herd-type thing (HINT: 1)No-one mentioned WMD once to us nor yet appeared willing/able to discuss any of the grounds for the war 2) No-one appeared to consider for a moment that we were against the damn war BECAUSE WE WERE BRITISH!).
As Göttingen is a fairly liberal place nowadays, it can be imagined that the woman who I described some paragraphs back is markedly not a popular individual, hence her scurrying and, I assume, her great determination to carry on with her misguided ministry. Just as with the grotesque fascists of the NPD she does have a constitutional right to express or propagate many of her views (or those which she thinks are hers), for this is a two way street; heck, it's a multi-lane highway, complete with junction, sliproads, flyovers and constant building and rebuilding work, if we're talking about actually thinking things through for ourselves. Let's stretch the analogy and accept that most people (even the illustrious moi) pick out a main artery or are set down on one and then hit 'cruise'. Not so long ago, I came across some people who clearly chose to stroll on down the path better-travelled with regard to her.
She was at the bus stop and made the mistake of trying to give her leaflets to a couple of students. As she turned to the guy, he drew himself up to his full height, threw out his arms, loomed over her and started to roar. She was frightened. I told him to stop his nonsense immediately. He looked surprised and started to explain to me just why she was a bad woman and why everything in her leaflets was wrong. My witty rejoinder was that this did not justify his behaviour, she had a constitutional right, she had the right not to be molested, how would he feel if someone did that to his Mum/Gran/Sister etc. He shook his head, explained that she was a scheiß Nazi and that I was probably the same. Oh. I hate having to stick to my guns. AND I HATE BEING RIGHT ABOUT PEOPLE NOT USING THEIR BRAINS!
But still I say, down with sheepism! I shall always endeavour to think for myself although it may well prove to be uncomfortable, and I urge every other soul who has got this far through my essaylet to do the same.
And for those who believe that I am nothing but serious and prolix when I get to write about whatever, I refer you all to this. Oh, and virtually every other entry in this journal. Except when I'm truly PO'ed about something; ignore those entries.