Tag Archives: Syria

Imagine if your education was taken away

UnknownHands up if you liked school? What’s that? Not many hands? If you didn’t fancy school that much, chances are you’re from a comfortable westernised country where school is taken for granted and hating it is the norm. And why not? Go ahead, fill your boots – hating school as a kid is like a right of passage.

But, just for a second, imagine this: what if school was taken away? What if you, as a female, for example, were told that, because of your gender, school was not an option? Or imagine if  your country were thrown into a brutal war and for your children, say, school was impossible to attend, in fact, even day to day normal living was nearly impossible and the only option you are left with is to flee your homeland to search for the safety of another. Only to be told to go away.

Today is International Literacy Day and in the wake of the European refugee crisis, the poignancy of literacy and the opportunity it provides has never seemed more relevant. Literacy, see, comes through schooling, but not all children have the chance to attend school. Syria’s oppressive regime, war and economic sanctions, have meant many children are denied what we here see as a right: the right to education. And take Malala Yousafzai, the young girl who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen just for going to school. 

We owe it to these children to have a better outlook, here in the west, on education, to regard the opportunities we have with respect and truly understand that, what we take as regular, normal – boring even – others see as the pinnacle of what life is about: ambition, learning, literacy. A chance, basically, at a good and full life.

So today on International Literacy Day let’s all pause to think about those children – boys & girls- who through violent war, oppression and economic strain cannot attend school. And how different it is to our own lives. And how damn lucky we are.

What do you think? Join in and comment below.

Human kindness is not broken

_85357288_indyBelow is a column I wrote last October. It was in response to the announcement that Iraq and Syria would be part of a targeted assault by joint forces.

I wrote then that it was wrong, the announcement, that people would suffer, that, if it went ahead, the one thing that could break that we all hold true would be human kindness.

At first, when the Daily Mail et al responded recently to the refugee crisis by publishing insulting, awful headlines filled with hate, I thought my 2014 column predictions had come true, but then something changed. People in Europe stood up loud and firm and insisted that we help, insisted that, when we see a dead boy on a beach, a boy -a child – like yours or mine, we don’t turn our backs any more. Instead, we help.

Right now, human kindness does exit. It isn’t broken. And let’s, together, despite governments and wars and endless political power games, as one united global family, make sure it never, ever does.

“Human kindness needs to beat the bomb” – The Gloucestershire Gazette – Column – 16th October, 2014

I’m a pacifist. I don’t like violence, not believing in weapons and fighting as the answer to our problems. In fact, they just make things worse, causing those on the receiving end to fight back, often harder and for years on end, the cycle never breaking.

And so to Iraq and Syria and the recent announcement that we will be part of a targeted assault. Now here’s the thing: pacifist or not, the current situation in these countries is horrendous. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like, as civilian, to live through it all. Men, women and children are displaced, terrible hunger and perpetual fear prevail. And that’s before the terrible laws that seem to be imposed by some on the citizens of these countries, the oppressive regimes that refuse to allow freedom of thought, of movement, of dress, of, well, simply being human. Imagine that happening to us, now, in Gloucestershire. What would we do? Would we want international countries to intervene? The answer would be a definite yes. To walk away, to turn a blind eye to the injustices and atrocities – that would be a crime in itself. In fact, I have to question the minimal intervention so far from the global community concerning Syria. The UN should have stepped in long, long ago.

But the trouble is, bombing is not the answer. You see, the varied problems in Iraq and Syria are caused by fanatics. And, the thing with fanatics is that you cannot rationalise with them – even if that rationalising does come in the shape of a bomb. So, to that end, how can invading with weapons change the fanatical mind? How? The answer is it won’t. In fact, I would argue that it will make the situation worse, that, while in the short terms, yes, it will temporarily halt their terrorising campaign, in the long term it will ingrain the seed of hate towards the the countries involved in the bombings even more. It will, in short, make things worse.

And in the meantime, people are suffering. So, global governments should be more stealth, more intelligent with their actions. Instead of brute force, implement sanctions, put food on the ground, use our secret services to infiltrate the groups and leaders that are causing the evil. Because, what we don’t want to break is the one thing we hold true: human kindness.

Gazette column: Bombing Iraq is not the answer

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about the recently announced booming of Iraq by USA and UK and allies, and why it is not the answer for peace. To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Let me know.

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, well, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**