Liz is away for the night so imagine my joy at dicovering I had forgotten to unset the alarm clock from its usual 6a.m. At least that enables me to catch up on a few things.
One of the difficulties a liberal, chattering society has is chattering with the poorly educated. We have to learn to jettison our assumptions that others will respond to rational argument. Yesterday I was talking to someone about a suggestion made in a meeting of a large Christian organisation. It was a suggestion that everyone thought was great until someone delivered a quality speech against it and then everyone agreed the idea was rubbish. That is fantastic and the way liberal, chattering democracy works. We all listen and are willing to change our minds. Job done.
But how do you change the mind of a Lancashire mother who, complaining that the newly nourishing food in the school canteen is of 'insufficient quality' for her child, smuggles fish and chips through the rails of the boundary between the school and the cemetery, backed up, wouldn't you know, by the local fish and chip shop owner, who is publicly quoted as saying that this argument is about the right of mothers to feed their children? It isn't feeding if done daily, it's assisted suicide. Trust me. I had fish and chips last night and today it's killing me.
Jamie Oliver has won the argument about nourishing food in canteens and demonstrated that, with the right will, minds can be changed. But it took passion, demonstration and hard work. I think he succeeded because his roots aren't liberal chattering class. He knew how to change the minds of the sort of people whose minds needed changing.
How can we make it easier for the poorly educated to change their minds without feeling they have lost?
And how, more complicatedly, do you change the minds of the entire nations, differently educated, who now want to demand an apology from the Pope for daring to quote an ancient, anti-Islamic source in an academic lecture. Before half a day had passed the whole Parliament of Pakistan, most of whom would have been unfamiliar with anything by then except populist reporting of the matter, had passed a motion calling for him to recant.
On the streets effigies of his holiness were burning
The Pope may have some unpleasant, illiberal views, and certainly in his position he should be guarded, but I'm beginning to think reporters shouldn't be allowed in such academic lectures unless they have a proven background in anti-inflamatory writing.
Of course it is the chattering, liberal(ish), democratically elected government (for whom I voted and to whom I can speak) who are responsible for education in this country so I'm not blaming anyone except myself here for the first problem.
The second scares me. Can we talk about it?