Friday 28 May 2010

Title deeds

Despite being an atheist I did for a period of five years attend Quaker worship. I won’t bore you with the details or my reasons for attending. Putting the religious element to one side the Society of Friends has from its inception has been a forward thinking and truly egalitarian organisation. I am totally in favour of pure secular government, but if we had to have a religious based government one based on Quakerism would be just fine. Ironically though Quakers wouldn’t want to impose their ways on others so it would never happen. Basically what I’m trying to say is you could do a lot worse than turning to the Society of Friends for inspiration.

One thing in particular that Quakers do that reinforces their egalitarian credentials is that they don’t use titles. To a Quaker I am Paul Garrard. Not Mr Paul Garrard, Sir Paul Garrard or Dame Paul Garrard, just plain old Paul Garrard. I suspect you are thinking, ‘does this really matter?’, and my answer to you would be that it does. If we are to build Jerusalem, that fair and equal society in this green and pleasant land we need to eradicate unnecessary labels that continue to segregate or mark us out by gender or class. I realise that Daily Mail types that think that this is ‘political correctness gone mad’ but equality is as much about perception as it is about economics. If you change people’s perceptions and remove erroneous classifications you make it a bit harder to discriminate and enable social mobility to be that bit easier. This of course needs to go hand in hand with economic measures that facilitate equality - better housing, better education chances, employment and decent wages – but they do need to be done together to have the greatest possible effect. Having said that if any government introduced a law that banned to use of titles for all form filling and systems, be they in the public or private sector, it would at least start us on the road to changing the mindset of the whole nation in favour of equality for all.

In the future all people will be equal, and some won’t be more equal than others!

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