“Batley and Spen is a gathering of typically independent, no-nonsense and proud Yorkshire towns and villages. Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration. While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.” – Jo Cox (from her maiden speech in parliament -2015).
-ism; “the grand narrative”?
-ism is a suffix in many English words, originally derived from the Ancient Greek suffix -ισμός (-ismós), and reaching English through the Latin -ismus, and the French -isme. It means “taking side with” or “imitation of”, and is often used to describe philosophies, theories, religions, social movements, artistic movements and behaviors.
The suffix “-ism” is neutral and therefore bears no connotations associated with any of the many ideologies it identifies; such determinations can only be informed by public opinion regarding specific ideologies.
When I talk of a grand narrative, I mean a way of explaining the world so that it makes sense to us in a grand over-arching way. We find isms everywhere, in 2015 Webster’s dictionary made -ism , its word of the year as it had appeared in more searches than any other. Perhaps we are looking for grand ideas, but all too often, the grand ideas collide and clash with each other. This is happening now, as people try to make sense of things at a confusing time. Take this tweet
People upset at BLM UK for what they said? But revolutionaries like Mandela who said “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians” for a reason. Zionism is a product that is birthed by racist British colonialism. It must be challenged.
— Acab Rocky (@bitterarab) June 28, 2020
Racism is a grand narrative that explains the subjugation of one race by another. Zionism is a particular kind of racism , colonialism another and anti-semitism another, these words are informed by public opinion. When we start out with one -ism , we can easily end up with several
A schism is a split or division between strongly opposed sections or parties, caused by differences in opinion or belief.
Like many isms – it is a grand narrative gone wrong.
Bob Marley’s great hymn is the antithesis of schism. It is what Jo Cox was talking about and it brings people together. It brings black and white together, Jews and Palestinians , it heals the scars of colonialism.
I cannot think that we will prosper if we use the language of schism. We start with a divided and unjust world and reach out to a world where all are equal.
But that world is not another world. In olden days, preachers said that “heaven is under the earth” . That kept those who were oppressed, oppressed. The same man who wrote “One Love”also wrote “Get up, stand up” a song which demands we take action on earth.
Most people think,
Great God will come from the skies
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high
But if you know what life is worth
You will look for yours on earth
And now you see the light
You stand up for your rights. Jah!
It is possible to hold the idea of “One love”, while battling to free yourself from prejudice. I take it what the very wonderful Steve Simkins is saying here!
That final insight is very fine.
“One love” or schism
We can approach the injustices in this world in one of two ways. We can deal them by thinking positively in the spirit of one love, or we can throw rocks at each other and drive ourselves apart.
The lady in the tweet quotes Nelson Mandela, but she quotes the young Mandela who fought the law with violence. The old Mandela changed the law through love.
We can choose to fight inequality with violence or with love. I think love is more successful.