The enemy of my enemy is my friend…er…two wrongs don’t make a right…hmmm…a negative multiplied my a positive is a negative….er…e=mc2

I’d heard there were troubles in these here parts…the evil land owner had done x, the wacky locals had done y….

When I was partaking of the group psychotherapy a few years ago, a little foible of mine presented itself by striking me firmly between the eyes….

Person x in the group had said something….person y had disagreed, stating the opposite. Somehow I managed to completely agree with both…

Bizarre.

Good bizarre or bad bizarre? I’m not terribly sure.

It was with this foible still firmly in place that I first met up with the locals.
I’ll not dive into who said what or did what to whom – i’ll talk about my experience of the people.

I met Mary, the barmaid at the Lochaillort Inn. A friendly smile, inquisitive chat, a bit of banter that continued when more locals poured in.

More chat…a more friendly environment I couldn’t wish for.

Shandies and money were donated to my cause (it’s still hot up here) and I necked the mandatory venison burger.

This barmaid, these locals had moved wholesale from the other local pub – the Glenuig Inn – following disagreements with the new (ish) incumbent – well he’s been there for four years or so. They would never return so deep rooted were their feelings.

This was fact. Nobody was going to budge on this. Did I mention how warm and welcoming they were? I’d had a lovely time there. These were my kind of folk.

The following day I staggered into Glenuig, murmuring, ‘Water….water…’ to find that the wee shop didn’t open until 2.

It was 11 so I decided to go in search of the village hall which, if the rumours I’d heard were correct, had an outside tap with which I could replenish my water bottles.

On the way though I’d first have to encounter the Glenuig Inn and the evil landowner.

Insert your own sinister music here.
Walking past the Inn, I checked with the folk in the carpark that I was going the right way for the Hall…for water.
‘We’ve got water here too,’ smiled one of the guys warmly.

We got chatting and he filled up my bottles – offering me more containers if I could carry them.

He gave me a half of local beer and fed me with…I know I’m predictable… venison burger and potato wedges and home made tomato ketchup. I wouldn’t normally be quite so specific but this was the best ketchup I’d ever tasted in my life – ever.

We chatted about the Inn – he’s trying to make it more and more sustainable, more green and more efficient because, like the people on the Black Isle, he’s aware that peak oil is coming (has possibly come and went), and that it’s important for such places to be as self sufficient as possible.

He tells me, that through the use of solar energy to heat his water, putting insulation on the outside of the building rather than on the outside and a myriad of other things, he has reduced his carbon emissions by 96%.

He told me a lot with huge enthusiasm – it was a bit like when Donny McLeod told me about organic farming – I sat there with my mouth open thinking this was an exciting, forward looking man.
If you want to know more go here…
I had to laugh when he told me that he first got into all this when he’d retired for the fist time at 24.

I asked him if he had any regrets about the situation with the locals. He explained to me, using chess as a metaphor, that these were the rules – the situation couldn’t be changed – it is what it is.

I’ve a friend, hi Derek, who is a great believer in leaving things to run their course. Me on the other hand – well, I like to tweak and prod and so on.
His way works and my way works – its just that I’m right.

I walked away from Mary and the other locals much richer for my experience with them.

The same goes for Steve, the enthusiastic owner of the Glenuig Inn.
I’ve been reading ‘All quiet on the Western front,’ a piece of fiction about a young German soldier’s experience of the front line in the first world war.
He talks about how the enemy is alienated from them by calling them names, depersonalising them. He tells of how the allies propaganda machine told the British that the Germans had been eating Belgian babies.

The more distant you are from your enemy, the easier it is to alienate, fear and discriminate against them.
Which brings me to my earlier ‘Bumblebee’ blog.

I like good debate – disagreement – I love a good verbal punch up…but within that, it’s so easy to fall into many of the alienation traps.

From what I can see it went something like this….

I wrote something that had a strong leaning to the left….

Steve…a guy who I love dearly put in his viewpoint….and called me a hippy – jokey? Yes…but gently starting the process of ‘they’re not like us’ alienation.

Jim, also a very dear friend, comes in with the ‘Tory’ comment…

In the background, I contact Steve and ask him if he’s tired????? Could I have been more patronising? Was it true that he could only disagree with my one and only path because of fatigue…or, horror upon horror …did he disagree with what I’d said?

It may surprise you to read – but our politics are remarkably similar, the three of us….

However, instead of continuing with debate, point and counter point, we ended up on this road to alienation.
Which brings me back to Glenuig. These aren’t just ok people. People who grunt, ‘hello,’ or ignore me as I go.

These are engaging, intelligent, witty, interesting and interested people.
They’re not insular and afraid of a man pulling a yellow trolly – they’re open and friendly…

Both sides have so much to offer the other.

Go and listen to each other. Write to each other…start with dear Steve/ Mary and see what happens after that.
It could really be that simple – or that difficult.

Walk a mile in their shoes

Chris

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