Greg Wise

Greg Wise is an actor, flimamker and writer. He has had a long and succesful career on both big and small screens. His film work includes “Sense and Sensibility”, “Johnny English”, “Greyfriars Bobby” and, most recently, “Walking on Sunshine” whilst his TV credits include “Cranford”, “Madame Bovary”, “The Moonstone”, “Hornblower2. Greg is married to Emma Thompson. They have a daughter, Gaia, and an adopted Rwandan son, Tindy.

I am very concerned about all the “British Values” being bandied around at the moment as a result of the recent headlines about some of the Muslim schools in Birmingham. One of the “British Values” expressed was tolerance. I see this as a very charged word and, I think, lies at the heart of the difficulties we are experiencing at the moment. Tolerance brings with it the idea of “enduring” behaviours that we “dislike”. I think tolerance is a very negative value in this case, and I would suggest that what we need to do now is promote “EMPATHY” - understanding and sharing the feelings of “The Other”.

“The Other” is something we are told to fear; just look at all the political capital being gained at the moment over immigration fears. Outsiders coming in. Outsiders taking from us. Outsiders threatening us. We are turning inwards, turning tribal, becoming afraid and aggressive. But we are all made of the same stuff; we are all humans - that is our Tribe; we are all made strong and healthy by difference and diversity. I, myself, am a product of Eastern European refugees on one side, and Northern English on the other. We are all mongrels, and, as we know, mongrels are the healthiest of dogs.

I want to be part of an organisation that welcomes and promotes “The Other”. An organisation that makes us all understand that we are all “The Other” to others. An organisation that that helps us to understand that when you are able to listen and learn the more we see that we are all the same; all of us with the same hopes and fears. It is fear that drives hate - and we have all been indoctrinated recently to fear - fear terror, fear fundamentalism, fear the movement of people - and this fear has become hatred. We must stop this hatred; we can stop this hatred.

I am the father of a black son who suffered racial abuse at university; I am the father of a girl who suffered bullying at school. I have witnessed first hand the corrosive nature of bullying, and am thankful now that I am able to be part of an organisation in Local Heroes that tackles this head on.