Striving for a better debate

The Guardian did an excellent piece today on the vicious promotion of a divide between “strivers” and “skivers” (Strivers v Skivers). No longer are we a nation of haves and have-nots. The Government want us to accept we are a nation of wills and will-nots (and aren’t facing serious opposition). The categorisation of human beings into good and bad in the form of nursery rhymes is enormously frustrating: strivers/skivers, workers/shirkers. Quite apart from driving an artificial wedge between people, its lazy. In fact, I’d hazard the proposition that those in Government promoting this concept are not strivers themselves. How can anyone who produces slogans so utterly without merit or nuance be strivers? How do they even define strivers? The dictionary says that to strive is “to make a great effort”. For some people it takes that just to get out of bed in the morning, for physical or mental health reasons. Equally, unemployed people can make a great effort to find work but still fail for any number of reasons for which they shouldn’t be demonised.

Are you in work? Ask yourself this. Do you make a great effort every day? Do you strive to achieve high standards, seek out opportunities for self-improvement? Are you really “all that”? Many jobs involve getting through the day for a salary without punching anyone in the face (a salary which is, for many, insufficient to live on, leading presumably to an existential crisis for those concerned who claim tax credits and benefits). I’m not criticising employed people. I’m just saying it’s time to disperse from the battle lines the Government has created for us. It’s their battle to win, with evidence and well reasoned arguments. If they can’t do that, they should lose. Please, don’t nod along with whatever unpleasant rhetoric they use to avoid making reasoned arguments. Doing so would make us sheep, not traditionally well known as strivers. Instead, let’s strive to be more empathic. Let’s strive to understand ourselves and others a little better. Let’s strive to win honesty from our Government and to be given actual policy discussion in Parliament and when campaigning, instead of childish arguments that don’t actually explain anything at all.

The dictionary definition of “skive”, lest we forget, is to evade work or responsibility.

Strivers v Skivers Guardian 10 Jan 13

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