I found a letter to some editor, somewhere. I can’t remember now. I must have written it in about 1999. But it STILL applies!
Could you publish this letter?
Having come from a vibrant, sunny climate populated by loud and spontaneous people, it has been a shock to realise, slowly, over the four and a half years that I have lived here that laws in England are disempowering the people of their right to be spontaneous and self-confident.
I have observed carefully this something “sick” in British society and the anecdote which started my suspicion that it is aberrantly dysfunctional was when the headmaster from a school where I used to teach told me that, on a visit to his brother in Yorkshire, they had happened upon two adolescent boys resting on the grass beside their bicycles on the moor. They had walked past in complete silence and the brother (a retired teacher) had then turned to him and said, “ Ten years ago I would have chatted to those lads, but I wouldn’t dare to now!”
Today, the admission of a foreign theatre sister working at a local hospital that she went to work daily in fear “of being her natural self” in case she broke some rule or regulation, or showed too much caring for the patients she worked with, and a father that he never hugged his girl children for fear of suspicion falling on him of ulterior motives, has prompted me to write this letter.
These confessions reminded me of my own experience recently when a pack of children hurtled into me in the street in our very peaceful little village. Normally I would have cried out “Oi! Slow down please” and possibly rested a restraining hand on the shoulder of the leader of the pack. Instead, a flash of fear stopped me and into my head came “No touching please – they’re British”. I simply allowed the pain of the collision to happen to me.
Our spontaneity and affection that is essential to making a whole and balanced society, nurturing, guiding and dealing effectively with others around us, is being malformed into a legislated repression In trying to excise all evils from our society, people are not protected, but deprived.
Without feeling comfortable to chat with hikers on a hill, to practise our healing touch as a nurse, to give and receive affection from our parent, teacher, friend or carer, to restrain wild behaviour when physically endangered, or have the confidence to speak out, to have personal opinions and thoughts, to show love and disapproval: unless we are free “to be our natural self” we are repressed and starving in our own country. We become cold and dead – and fearful.
We will reap the harvest of this communal starvation by those searching for the warmth, vitality and genuine un-legislated spontaneous caring which they know subconsciously is missing from life in modern Britain. Without the right to be spontaneous and self-confident, we are not free at all – all of us are emotional detainees, crippled and socially disabled.