Forgive Us Our Trespasses, 私たちの罪を赦し, Rimetti a noi i nostri debiti, আমাদেরকে ক্ষমা করে দাও আমাদের পাপ, हमें माफ कर दो हमारे अपराधों

peace 2peace

Please forgive me for lumping together the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme with this year’s (2016) terrorist attacks in Europe, North Africa, the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. But the news is all gloom and history has a way of catching up with us. I use the term terrorist and war loosely, and may be criticized-but death is death and the slaughter of innocent people is just that: slaughter of the innocence. The battles fields of Europe, Asia, the Middle East are often lumped together as historical manifestations of past wrongs (with blame shifting according to different interpretations) and we feel somewhat removed from these tragedies; but  cafes, schools, movie theatre , airports, beaches, night clubs – the places where we go to celebrate the joy and happiness of life have become the battlegrounds of the 21st century.

The sullied; those driven by an evil nihilist ideology and a hate for life and an extreme odious revulsion for the simple delight and exhilaration of others  kill for pleasure.

May be all war is like this? Historians will disagree-explaining in minutia the causes and effects, actors etc…and rightly so; but for me it is the consequences of this madness which affects me.

I’ve traveled to 40 countries of the work, lived and worked in 9 countries, including 14 years within Islamic humanity, and in a variety of different cultural contexts. I’ve always met engaging, hospitable, kind and welcoming people who have grown  numb with the incredulity of the madness of the death cults enveloping the planet and claiming allegiance to Islam.

People sitting in a café enjoying camaraderie and banter are slaughtered in the most perfidious and unimaginable way including a 33 year old woman, 7 months pregnant, working in a country where aid is desperately needed and providing that aid. In Baghdad ordinary people enjoying their recreation during the Holy month of Ramadan, chatting imbibing refreshment before beginning their fast are blown up by madmen. In Lahore families enjoying a Sunday out together a blown up. Men and women in a night club are gunned down, and people celebrating Christmas are shot and killed. Young police cadets deciding to serve their county are slaughtered by those old enough to be their fathers. What is this insanity? What hope for humanity?

The Unreturning by Wilfred Owen

Suddenly night crushed out the day and hurled
Her remnants over cloud-peaks, thunder-walled.
Then fell a stillness such as harks appalled
When far-gone dead return upon the world.

There watched I for the Dead; but no ghost woke.
Each one whom Life exiled I named and called.
But they were all too far, or dumbed, or thralled,
And never one fared back to me or spoke.

Then peered the indefinite unshapen dawn
With vacant gloaming, sad as half-lit minds,
The weak-limned hour when sick men’s sighs are drained.
And while I wondered on their being withdrawn,
Gagged by the smothering Wing which none unbinds,
I dreaded even a heaven with doors so chained.

May-You-Rest-In-Peace-quotes-images-pictures-download-1

 For those slain though this lunacy may you rest in peace- because the living are not.

 

The Age of Apocalyptic News and the Gleeful Hope of End Times

As I scanned my daily International news websites, especially BBC and CNN for a glimmer of hope in what they all seem to describe and report as an age of hopelessness with ever increasing mega storms, wars, disasters, mega crime rates, mega sexual abuse cases and social, political and sex scandals; I began to wonder whether I had mistakenly surfed into the Internet Movies Data base website (IMDb) and was reading a summary of ‘2012 Ice Age’ (2011), or The Day After Tomorrow (2004) or Krakatoa East of Java (1969), Magma-Volcano Disaster (2006) ‘Silence of the Lambs’ (1991), or Psycho (1960).
The last two days have seen the BBC news service headline such graphic pessimistic stories like, ‘Polar Vortex Grips North America’ (BBC News World Service, 2014), the possibility of Yellowstone National Park erupting and obliterating North America and sending the rest of the globe into an apocalyptic climate change nightmare (BBC News World Service, 2014), and a timeline of the future from 1000 years to 10 quadrillion years, which details the ultimate destruction of all human civilizations as we know them today along with all life and the current known universe (BBC World News Service, 2014). CNN didn’t offer much more hope either; ‘Deadly Winter Blast Spreads Wider’ (CNN, 2014), ‘Merkel Fractures pelvis’ (CNN, 2014), ‘Is Globalization Over?’ (CNN, 2014), ’10 Things You’ll Pay More For’, (CNN, 2014).
Not all news is good, but neither is all news bad. The point is any random surf through major news websites or online broadsheets will result in around 80% of the stories in the negative and fewer than 20% with a resounding glimmer of hope for humanity. For example, the stories relating to discoveries in the IT industry and the health sciences which show how humanity is making progress in fighting disease and improving the quality of life are seldom headlined. Furthermore, given the 7 billion plus people on the planet, statistically I’d hazard a guess that 90% of the world’s population try to earn an honest day’s living (even on $2:00 a day!) and don’t commit serious crimes, like murder, grand theft, fraud, abuse children, slap babies, torture animals, and bully children, teenagers and other adults, or commit hate crimes and bully those who are different, or rob banks or steal from one another as a way of life. Yes, we all have problems, we love and hate, and life evolves as an endless cycle of joys and sufferings never seemingly allowing us to find a balance where we think we’ve grasped a lesson or two here or there from anyone or anything.
Similarly, winters come and go, as do spring, summer and fall all with a wide range of weather patterns and subsequent problems associated with the seasons, some of which are man made. Also, war sadly is still a feature of human life in the 21st century-because emotions of rage and anger seem not to have been harnessed or managed in a humane way like say our genetic make-up through the human genome project, or our ability to give joy to childless parents through human surrogacy. Yes, bad things do unfortunately happen and overtime the weather and the natural elements like earthquakes and tsunamis act out their fury regardless and in defiance of all life on earth.
But creating a climate of fear through an endless parody of news reporting on the negative aspects of life on earth and overstating these is just as irresponsible as not reporting them at all. A balance is needed and a more honest way to communicate in way which sees a light at the end of the tunnel, not a series of super volcanoes about to explode and obliterate all life on earth or the planet about to enter a new ice age through the rapid growth of a massive polar vortex!

References
BBC News World Service. (2014, January 7th). North America arctic blast creeps east. Retrieved January 7th , 2014, from BBC.CO.UK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-25632586
BBC News World Service. (2014, January 6th). Supervolcano eruption mystery solved. Retrieved January 7th, 2014, from BBC.CO.UK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25598050
BBC World News Service. (2014, January 6th). Timeline of the far future. Retrieved January 7th, 2014, from BBC.CO.UK: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140105-timeline-of-the-far-future
CNN. (2014, January 7th). CNN Set Edition US. Retrieved January 7th, 2014, from CNN.Com: http://www.cnn.com/

Prisoner 46664: The Last Great Statesman

The death of Nelson Mandela leaves a more obvious vacuum in the international and humane leadership of the world today-perhaps it’s safe to say given recent history in South Africa, since he stepped down as President of the Republic, there’s been no-one with an equal amount of moral and political character to replace him. But, we live in hope for others to emerge like him.
I visited Robben Island several years ago-and spent some time in the tiny cell (7 foot by 8 foot) in which Mandela had been held captive for nearly two decades. It was bare except for a pot and mat. It was here he was able to confront his demons and make peace with himself I thought. It was here that the seeds of forgiveness and reconciliation were first nurtured and grown, so when he was eventually released he was capable of leading his country down the path of peace and forgiveness rather than civil war. He proved beyond any doubt that the pen is far mightier than the sword. Mandela, along with Ghandi and Martin Luther King all stand like giant Colossi before humanity and our world leaders showing and demonstrating to us the moral and ethical way to live and be governed-but all too often we turn our backs seeking a quick hit or fix to our problems.
One of the most powerful stories shared in Nelson Mandela’s autobiography “Long Road to Freedom” is the recount of a prison officer on Robben Island. He describes this basic human experience of interaction with him in detail in recalling the sadistic and brutal Commander’s behaviour toward him at the prison where he had been held for 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment:
Badenhorst had perhaps been the most callous and barbaric
Commanding officer we had had on Robben Island. But that
day in the office, he had revealed to me that there was another side
that had been obscured but that still existed. It was a useful
reminder that all men, even the most seemingly cold-blooded,
have a core of decency, and if their hearts are touched, they
are capable of changing. Ultimately, Badenhorst was not evil;
his inhumanity had been foisted upon him by an inhuman system.
He behaved like a brute because he was rewarded for brutish
behavior. (Mandela,1994, p.549)

This is not a new idea and tends to reflect ancient wisdom from all cultures, which encourage love; tolerance, compassion and the rubric of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. And it was this reflective wisdom which turned Mandela, by his own admission into a forgiving, honourable and just human being able to lead his country out of the darkness of racism, brutality and oppression into the light of democracy and optimism for the future. Let’s hope and pray other countries will follow such an enlightened example of political and moral leadership

References:
Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994 (MacDonald Purnell Publishers)