Debating Matters competition: Just a tiny bit of what I learnt this weekend

I always end with a bang.

But I don’t necessarily set off the right firework.
I’m on the train coming back from London, slowly rolling/train-tracking through Northampton. There’s two kids eying up Jenny’s ipad, Andy is engrossed by The Sims and I, for the first time since (without too much exaggeration) this time last year, have technically “nothing to do”.
So I’ve decided to write, free from the distraction of the social media, as there’s no free wi-fi.
I’ve spent my weekend in London at the Wellcome Trust, taking part in The institute of Ideas’ “Debating Matters” competition.
I’ve certainly discovered a lot about myself.
(Other than the fact that anger, free bars and Laura May should not mix!)
Nothing scares me, and I mean that. But certain things that should scare me, anger me and I’ve experienced that this weekend.
No one has intended to make me feel this way but what I saw, experienced and realised, did.
Left leaning in my political values and activism, yet real, I have often shrugged my shoulders to comments and opinions, though acknowledging that they’re true, about how there is a section of elite people totally in their own bubble of knowledge that are privileged and born into wealth. These people are perceived to be “naturally better” than me.
I know that everyone I know will say “ye, but we know and you know they aren’t.”
But they think they are.
And without openly stating it, those “that matter” in wider society think it too.
To be honest, I should delete that final paragraph…It’s not that they even “think” they are, it’s as though it’s naturally built into them to talk, act, dress and laugh a certain way that immediately alienates a lot of people.
And it’s naturally built into “us” to call them snobs and only associate ourselves with them “to get places” and in turn alienate ourselves from them. This weekend, I’ve really had to challenge them literally, in debate.
And I failed to do so.
My passion was there and so was my knowledge. But they way in which I conveyed it and the level as to which I thought the debate was going to take place, wasn’t. The people I was against, along with judges think and act on a totally different level to me. They always have done.
Nothing I’m saying here is ground breaking, I knew this all along, but I only ever really felt it for the first time, properly yesterday.
I acknowledge I’m the most intellectual person in the world, but I don’t necessarily think that’s because I don’t have the ability to be. I think it’s because I’ve grown up in a house where my family have talked, worked and concentrated on real life and didn’t discuss deep, high level intellectual philosophy at the tea table. Instead, they’ve taught me how to argue and reason about the world around me. I’m not calling my parents thick either, what my Mum can’t do with her creative imagination is no one’s business and her talent has been wasted through these exact words on the very day she left school;
“I suppose you better get a job then.”
My Dad too, he’s an engineer by trade. Though he’s rubbish at fixing wheelchairs, he can create, build and has had a successful career managing something…(He doesn’t do that now, and when I was a kid I just had the line, “My Dad is a bit of  a boss at Leyland Trucks in the Stores Department”.)
My parents are real and they’ve brought me up to “be real” and a bit clever too. I’ve never been forced to think or do anything. My passion and interest in politics emerged through being intrigued at the age of 3 by the men sat on green benches on the tele, and Mum, Dad and Nanna having to stand in a funny booth that day the man with big glasses lost his job…
Everything else I love, do and want to be is because of me and my parents encouraging me to be me.
Maybe some of the people I experienced at the weekend’s parents’ had the same idea and view but there’s something fundamentally different about them that makes them think and act on a different level. It’s very impressive and scary to witness and these people are the people who have power. Their ideas and ability to argue them are fundamentally important and matter in this world and have made us all who we are…but.
And here’s the but.
I feel a bit like the “middle-woman” I can see and feel the edges of both “types” of mind.
I love people, all people; rich, poor, young, old, clever, dumb and I can see and now feel the separation.
I also don’t belong to “either-type”.
I understand and feel the need to work and control mundane, everyday situations and how they matter to us all and make us, “us”. I can also understand and acknowledge the challenging and fundamentally high level discussions about philosophy, history and science that matter to us all and make us, “us”.
But the top seems to forget, though tries to convince itself that it means something to the I dunno, “lower realm”, while the lower seem to know and accept that “them posh lot just don’t get reality.”
Well I’m sat here in the middle, screaming!
Because neither “lot” are prepared to challenge or work with each other and then the barrier, the social class barrier of snobbery and wealth builds up.
The way I am and the way I learn is through applying everything to reality and I now know, from this weekend that I need to find a way of getting my own brain, which I think is capable, of tapping into this high level of intellectual discussion. This is so that I can challenge and work against or with people who think on this level and use it to improve the “real world”, a skill that people who are born into this “high world” might not have.
Take this as a bitter rant because I lost a debate if you will.
But if you’re willing to engage and think like I am, I think you’ll see that though the institute of ideas may not like it, this weekend I was thrown into the deep end of a world I have now twice failed to attempt to become a part of. Though, now I know why. It’s not their fault, it’s not my fault; it’s the way of the world and it’s just given me another tool in my box that will enable me to change it, even if it’s only in a tiny way.

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