Seeing is Not Believing

The recent elections in Germany showed a spine chilling rise in the far right and it’s terrifying quite frankly. Yes, the country voted in the majority for common sense but there was still a percentage who seem to think that hatred is the answer (We can sit and gasp from this side of the water but actually we are the only country in the past year in Europe who have allowed the right wing to win an election). But Germany has its very own history, that is still not history, for there are people able to tell the tale first hand and it is not something that we can afford to just say ‘well that won’t happen again.’

I seem to have started all political, I didn’t mean to but I guess that is what is happening, we are being led by the nose by politicians and many many people are not happy. I have been asking the question for some time now, do we actually need politicians? What role do they actually play? What is their purpose? We seem to look to politicians for answers, for solutions and it has become increasingly clear that they are not able to do this. It would be impossible for any one single person to have all the answers and all the knowledge to be able to run a country, or run most things way smaller than a country for that matter. How can we expect one person to be able to do that? We can expect better than we are getting for sure, but why do we keep turning to them for sanctuary and safety when again and again they crap upon the people of their countries from a very great height. Why do we not turn to ourselves for the wisdom and guidance that we seem to be seeking?

I went to see a film last night about Islamaphobia and the talk afterwards inspired these thoughts along with yet another attack yesterday on a man entering a mosque. At the after film talk was a man who used to be part of the English Defence League, the same sort of groups of people who have just gained strength in Germany. He was brave in talking out and said that he is now on the receiving end of the hatred that he used to dish out and it’s not pleasant. Basically, he said that he used to read the papers, media and believe what was written. Seeing is not believing, very different things. Based upon what he read, this led him to carry out acts of hatred. Why and how have the media in this country not yet been prosecuted for incitement of hatred? How does it keep happening? I don’t understand one bit. Diatribe keeps getting churned out and people keep believing it. Actually, the people who have consistently been on the receiving end of racist attacks in this country have, over a number of years now, been people from the Chinese community but we never hear anything about this, why? What purpose does it serve, to whoever it is in charge, to demonise the muslim community in this way that actually leads to people getting attacked? Why and how can anyone lump together a bunch of people who, as individuals, are as different from one another as any other community. I have not met two muslims who are the same, two christians who are the same, two atheists who are the same, two anybody who are the same so, whenever anybody starts a sentence with ‘They…’ it makes me want to tape their mouths up (that’s being polite).

In the same way, it is individuals who hate, not communities. Those individuals may seek out like minded (I use that term very loosely) people and create groups that can hate together but it is only ever really an individual that can hate. As the film said ‘hate is easy… to understand takes courage.’ Although the media cannot force us to think in a certain way, it can certainly have a strong influence. As the director of the film said, ‘McDonalds do not force you to eat burgers but they give you many reasons to want to eat them.’ While the media keeps churning out all these vile untruths it is up to all of us to go out and talk to people, get to know people, make up our own minds without opting for the lazy and toxic route of hatred or, just as bad, indifference.

If there is something that we do not understand, then we need to get informed rather than keep looking for a scapegoat. I have spoken with many people who say that they do not understand the religion of Islam. Then get informed rather than lumping people together. I don’t pretend to be an expert but Islam has many different versions in the same way that all religions do. There is room within all religions for different versions. The divisions within those different versions are often created by those from outside, such as invading a country, to boost the age old tactic of divide and conquer. If you hold a prejudice against a so called group of people then you are part of the problem. There are arses within every single sector of society, that is individuals again rather than a whole community. We are never going to solve the problem of there being arseholes except than to try and not be one ourselves. The world is not perfect but please don’t make it any worse.

City Of Ghosts

A couple  of  evenings  ago  I went  to  see  a  film  called   ‘City  Of  Ghosts.’ It  is  the  story  of  the  city  of  Raqqa, in  Syria, and  its  takeover  by  ISIS. The  city  has  been  practically  destroyed ,  not  just  by  ISIS  but  also  by  the  Syrian ,  Russian  and  US governments  who  have  all been  having  a  pop.

A group  of  ‘ordinary  ‘ people ,  from  this  carnage ,  got  together  to  form  the  group   Raqqa  Is Being  Slaughtered  Silently   (RBSS). Together  they  risk ,  and  some  have  lost,  their  lives  to  get  information  out  to  the  world ,  the  truth  of  what  is  happening ,  what  the  media  is  not  telling  the  world .  Together  they  are  fighting the  propaganda  put  out  by  ISIS and  at  significant  cost  to  themselves  and  their  loved  ones .  Their  courage  and  determination  is  hard  to  put  into  words . As one  member  of  the  group  said ,  ‘I’ve  started  to  look  forward  to  dying  of  natural  causes.’

The  messages  from  the  film  are  stark ,  brutal  and many.  A sentence  that  stuck  with  me  was  an  observation  by  one  member ,  ‘Things  can  fall  to  chaos  much  quicker  than  anyone  can  believe . ‘  These  heroic  people  document  the  decline  into  chaos  and  brutality ,  essentially  since  2011 when  the  Arab  Spring  reached  Syria. Of  course  there  would  have  been  rumblings  and  less  than  ideal  life  leading  up  to when the  resistence  began , but  nothing  like  that  of  the  subsequent  experiences  of  this  beautiful  nation  of  people .  How  quickly  this  country  has  fallen  into  chaos ,  much  quicker than  it  would  have  been  possible  to  believe  and  I  wish  we  could  say  that  there  is  an  end  in  sight .

Another  thing  that  struck  me was  one  man  saying ,  ‘It  is  not  enough  to  get  rid  of  ISIS ,  to  get  rid  of  Assad. We  have  to  create  a  government  that  speaks  for  its  people.’ It  was/is a pervading  ideology  that  has  allowed  ISIS  to  flourish. It  was  the  world  turning  a  blind  eye  that  has  allowed  ISIS, and  the  pervading  ideology ,  to  flourish .  ISIS has  now  become  a  problem  for  the  world .

And  us? What  are  we  doing ?  Increasing  the  narrative  of  fear  and  division  that  fuels  the  very  ideology  that  we  are  running  from .  We  are  feeding  the  beast  with  its  favourite  and  most  nourishing  fodder. We  have  allowed  a  government  to  flourish  that  does  not  speak  for  its  people .  In  a  short  time  we  have  become  a  nation  divided  such  as  I  have  never  experienced  before .  I  am  not  saying  that  what  we  are  living  is ,  in  any  way ,  comparable  to  that  of  the  Syrian people  but  the  words  ‘things  can  fall  to  chaos  much  quicker than  anyone  can  believe,’ should  heed  as  a  warning  to  each  and  every  one  of  us.

In  a  short  time  we  now  have ,  apparently ,  the  most  right  wing  government  in  our  history .  In  the  past  year,  our government  is  being  taken  to  court  by  the  UN over  its  abuse  of  human  rights  to  the  disabled  people  of  our  country .  A law  has  been  passed  that  requires  a  woman  to  prove  that  any  third  or  subsequent  child  was  born  of  rape should  she  need  any  support .  Living  with  the  rapist  automatically  disqualifies  any  claim. The  government  is  being  taken  to  court   (again) over  breaking  the  law  with  regards  to  its  legal  duties to  safeguard  young  people .  Doesn’t  exactly  fill  you  with  confidence  does  it ?  It  requires  remaining  healthy ,  wealthy ,  not  young, old or  disabled .  Don’t  go  under  a  bus, don’t  get  divorced  and  hang  on  to  your  ovaries !  It  would  appear  that  they  are  no  longer  our  own .

We live  in  a  country  where  I  am  able  to  rant  and  rave  about  what  is  happening, publish  it  and  not  get  my  head chopped  off .  This  is  no  small  thing. Please  let’s  keep  it  this  way. As  anyone ,  with  half  an  eyeball  open,  will  have  noticed,  nobody  is  immune  to  anything .  Freedom  is  not  something  that  happens  by  chance .  It  is  hard  fought  by  ‘ordinary’ people  and  not  just  gifted. Definitely  not  gifted  by  a  government  who  is  telling  you  how  many  eggs  you’re  allowed  to  use  in  your  ovarian  lifetime .

These  brave  people  of  ‘Raqqa  Is Being  Slaughtered  Silently’ offered  up  words  of  wisdom  in  how  we  can  all  help  towards  a  better  world, how  we  can  defeat  terrorism  and  oppression  – ‘We  have  to  use  the  power  of  good  that  is  in  people  to  overcome  evil.’ Wise  words  indeed. We  can  all  do  this  – good  manners, always ,  whether  to  family,  friends,  strangers,  face to face, on social media, good  manners. Generosity and help where you can, share what you have with those that have not.  Use your voice.  It  is  not  enough  to  say  ‘Isn’t  it  awful.’ Tell  the  governments  what  you  think .  At  a  recent  gathering  I  met   Shirley  Williams ,  a  long  standing  voice  of  the  people ,  and  she  said  ‘You  have  no  idea  how  much  power  you  have  as  a  people .  You  have  to  use  your  voice.’ Advice  from  a  woman  that  knows.

With our silence, we all play a part in evil being able to flourish.