Why it is unjust to like everyone

2nd June 2000 at 01:00
CHILDREN should be treated like oppressed minorities. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying we should oppress them, just treat them as we would treat anyone who believes they have a grievance - with kindness, fairness and courtesy. We don't have to like them en masse.

I said this to our new neighbour Sunny who, after glass of wine, confessed her terrible secret. Sunny has a fear of children.

Sunny behaved with my three rather like a dog-hater in a puppy farm. I could almost hear her screaming: "Nice children! Nice children!" as they wagged their tails and flopped all over her.

Sunny normally avoids children. She works for an organisation that helps disabled people. She likes the "differently abled".

"What, all of them?" I ask.

"Yes."

"Even the ones you haven't even met yet? You'll like them too?"

I have difficulty with people who like on an impersonal basis. My daughters are just the same. They like all black and Asian people on principle.

"We did a survey in our class," said Sarah. "And no one said they were racist."

"But does that mean you have to like all black and Asian people?" I asked. It seems it does.

There is something quite barmy about our society. People like Sunny and my daughters feel it obligatory to manifest affection for each other because not to like someone who is different from you is the greatest contemporary sin.

"No one has to like children," I explained to Sunny after my daughters had tittered out of the room and she'd been able to remove her rigid smile.

"You don't even have to like mine, not until you get to know them anyway."

Liking is, or should be, a very specific thing. It should be one individual's response to another individual, not a politically correct gesture. I would guess that I like about 50 people in all and not one of them is Scottish. Does this make me racist? Might it just have something to do with the fact that I meet very few round here? As it turned out I liked Sunny but the girls didn't. Not at all.

"But she's Asian," I said.

"That's different," Sarah replied."We know her now."


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