On a recent trip to Cambodia, I spent a day at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields, discovering the evils of the Khmer Rouge. I stared at photographs of their victims in utter shock; it is estimated around three million people died in the most unimaginably cruel ways. These sort of experiences are harrowing, but also make you grateful for the time and place in which you were born. Truly, it is a privilege to be alive.
The British have forgotten this. While I was away I logged onto Twitter to find that people were arguing about a chicken. On Masterchef John Torode had told one of the contestants, a Malaysian woman, to make hers more crispy. This struck me as a moderately annoying event (it was a Malaysian dish), but certainly not one worthy of the national headlines, nor the outrage it received. It merely convinced me that the British have lost the plot.
After all, these days we do occupy ourselves with the most trivial of matters, which have increasingly been allowed to take precedence over significant news and debates. While women in Iran waved their hijabs, we pondered the moral complexities of an MP sending a text to a female journalist. When President Duterte of the Philippines suggested female soldiers should be shot in the vaginas, our top press reporters were too busy covering the Me Too women in their red carpet outfits. Whether it’s the Twitter history of Toby Young, the offences of a sombrero hat, or something else, there is an inordinate amount of pointless analysis and in-fighting in this country; one in which people have convinced themselves things are very, very wrong.
It seems to me that there is something Maslowian about our current mindset. When people have it all – safety, enormous amounts of socialist protection, liberty and wealth – they tend to self-destruct, convinced that the grass is greener elsewhere. In Britain there is a huge grievance culture, where we are continually encouraged to look for offence or wrongdoing. Complaining is no longer a social taboo, but rewarded. Victimhood is the new supremacy; say you’ve had it hard, and there’s a book deal waiting for you.
The nation’s youth, in particular, has been totally brainwashed – radicalised even – into hating the West, perceiving it as a shackle on their soul. I often wonder if this delusional thinking is the result of teaching hours going down at universities; thus students spend their free time convincing themselves they’re oppressed. It’s just worrying that the adults don’t tell them to get a grip. “Yes, bubzy, you’ve had it hard,” they are told instead.
Britain is by no means perfect – there’s a housing crisis, rising knife crime and homelessness – but it is certainly not the prolifically unjust country its painted in the press, nor the worst place to live on earth – as so many seem to think these days. We are some of the most fortunate people in the world; many will go home to Netflix, electricity, and water, and still convince themselves they’ve somehow got rotten luck. Frankly I think it’s time we all got off Twitter and opened our horizons. Sometimes it’s better to work with, and appreciate, what you’ve got.