Denial. It’s a common human trait. Let’s not lie, we’ve all done it at least once in our lives, and if you don’t agree then you’re probably in denial at this very moment. To accept the truth, to own up to our mistakes and admit that we were wrong is something that everyone finds hard, whether they be politicians, students, husbands or siblings (wives are obviously never at fault). Nobody wants to say they’re wrong. It’s fair enough really; we all like to be right – especially if you can prove someone else wrong at the same time. But sometimes, maybe we take it too far and we need to take a step back.
Often, friends and family relate incidents to me with such indignation that I feel inclined to take their side out of pure fear. But it sometimes happens that from my point of view, the other person was right and my friend is just being over-sensitive. If this is the case, I try to face my fear and gently point out that perhaps the other person had a point, or didn’t intend to offend. My suggestions result in one of three reactions: 1) subdued silence followed by eventual agreement, 2) a thoroughly confused expression followed by a repetition of the entire story since I didn’t seem to understand how unjustly they were treated, or 3) a slap across the face. Sadly, the third option appears to be most favoured.
I don’t blame anyone for this denial reflex, since I myself am guilty of it. When someone points out that I am at fault, I will fight to the death to prove otherwise. However, once the argument is lost, and I am gifted with the beauty of hindsight, I realise it would have been better to put my hands up from the start and save myself a lot of time, energy and embarrassment. The worst is when such moments are captured on video and replayed at family occasions. You watch yourself as a sailor might watch his final moments from heaven, sighing in frustration as he tried to rescue his broken boat instead of swimming to safety, resulting in his eventual death. Obviously, this is a metaphor and one would hope that the consequences are somewhat less severe in reality.
But what brought me to all this was of course, election fever which is sweeping across the country. On Wednesday this week, Gordon Brown denounced an elderly lady as ‘bigoted’. This was, unfortunately for him (but fortunately for the rest of the country) caught on microphone and so denial was simply not an option for Mr Brown. Yet we find that he cannot simply state, ‘Yes, people of England, I called this lady bigoted because I think she is. I do apologise, but this is who I am really. Don’t forget to vote Labour next week’. Instead, he floundered around claiming that he had ‘misunderstood’ what she was saying. Really, Gordon, you’ve lost these elections anyways. Do at least one honourable thing whilst you’re Prime Minister and accept it: you are the bigoted one.