Friday, 16 November 2012

The Crucible returns

Society worries me. There’s so much wrong in the world at the moment; the escalation of violence in the Middle East, people losing jobs in every employment sector, no answer to the energy crisis, 3.6 million children in the UK living in poverty, and yet we're running around in little circles wondering how many people Dave Lee Travis might have groped in an era where many people were routinely groped. Yes, yes, it doesn't make it right, I'm not defending child molestation, I just think we need to start getting things in perspective and sorting out the facts before we send out the vigilantes.

We've all seen The Crucible by Arthur Miller, and if we haven't we should have. The play tells the tale of the Salem witch trials in 17th Century Massachusetts, which saw a number of innocent people sentenced to death for practicing the dark arts. When Miller wrote his masterpiece, some 260 years later, America was in the grip of another witch trial. Senator Joseph McCarthy had opened up a whole slew of allegations accusing fellow countrymen of disloyalty or subversion. Communists were initially targeted, before homosexuals and artists were pulled into the mayhem. People lost their livelihoods and had their reputations damaged. And just like the events in Massachusetts in the 17th Century, it suddenly became a way to get back at one's annoying neighbours. Fingers were pointed hysterically in all directions,  and people were lynched before a court of law gave them the opportunity to be proven either guilty or innocent.

It's happened throughout history; the popish plot in 17th Century England eked out those who were suspected Catholics. Pepys himself was imprisoned in the Tower of London because he liked Italian music.
Fashions change. What's wrong becomes right and then wrong again, but be clear, we are in the grip of something insidious which we must get in check before someone is seriously hurt. It is not our job to stand as judge, jury and executioner and we all need to butt out, and start focussing on healing the world.

History never repeats itself. Man always does.

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