One of the problems that naturally occurs when a light is shone on pain and suffering is that those who are looking at this picture are overwhelmed by pity. This might seem like a good outcome – surely if we are sorry for someone we’ll try to help? Well the answer to that is not a definite ‘yes’. Sometimes when we feel sorry for people we also feel angry, or resentful or superior or confused. We wonder how this can happen and why they can’t help themselves just like we have to do and if they have some inherent shortcoming that precludes them from building a wholesome and sustaining life for themselves… Continue reading
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Roméo Dallaire is a Canadian senator, widely known for being Force Commander of UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission In Rwanda) between 1993 and 1994. He is also known for his efforts to stop the genocide waged by extremist Hutu Rwandans against their moderate Hutu tribesmen and, more especially against the Tutsis who were the other ethnic group in the Rwandan conflict.
During the genocide, with dwindling troops and no help from outside, most of Roméo Dallaire’s efforts were focused on defending areas where he knew Tutsis were hiding. In spite of the fact that Dallaire had such limited resources and help, he is credited with directly saving somewhere in the region of 32,000 people of different races.
While Dallaire survived the genocide in Rwanda and many of his associates weren’t as lucky, he makes no secret of his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his experiences and is an outspoken supporter of all efforts to tend to veteran’s mental health.
Now, as well as being a senator, Roméo Dallaire has devoted his life to working for human rights and the prevention of genocide.
Given all the controversy in recent times about social action via social media, here is a very interesting initiative.
It seems like a great idea to me –
Especially as this is the response –
Here is an interesting newspaper article about this phenomenon –
And many thanks to Talesfromthelou for posting this in the first place –
- An Attempt to Prevent War: “Israel Loves Iran” (takefiveblog.org)
- The Future of Blogging (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- Israel Loves Iran: a peace movement is born in Tel Aviv (newstatesman.com)
- Iran Israel – Iranians We Love You (sunnyromy.wordpress.com)
- Love Is… (godslovevisible.com)
- Ten ways Israel loves Palestine (altahrir.wordpress.com)
When my eldest son was little, I’d pick him up from play-group and we’d walked happily home discussing what had happened that day, what we were going to do or where we were going to go or the many adventures of Superman.
Mother and small boy happy and glad to see each other – until…
“OK – so, what would you like for lunch?”
He’d have a think before he answered and then he might say – “I’d like chips”, or “I’d like potatoes and chicken,” or “I’d like ice-cream.”
So, I’d say – “No, no – you can’t have ice-cream or chips for lunch, you need to have something that’s healthy.”
“Like potatoes and chicken?”
“OK, like potatoes and chicken – you can have that later. Not for lunch.”
“But I want it for lunch!”
“Well, you can’t have it for lunch – choose something else – how about beans on toast or a cheese sandwich?”
“But I don’t want that! I want chicken and potatoes or ice-cream…”
Anyway, you get the picture – he’d be angry and upset and I’d be angry and upset and both of us would be full of self-righteous indignation as we stomped home.
And then, one day I finally realised what was happening.
He was answering the question I’d asked.
Which would have been fine except that I was actually asking a different question than the one I was forming with my words.
I was asking him what he wanted to eat for lunch and, as he was a small child, he was taking me at my word and answering the question.
The fact was, though, what I was really asking him was, “What you would like for lunch from a) the food at present in our house and b) food present which also satisfies my criteria for what constitutes a healthy lunch.”
So, I changed my questions.
“OK – what could you like for lunch – eggs, or cheese or bananas?”
“Ham sandwich or peanut butter?”
“Chicken noodle soup or cheese on toast?”
And because he was as reasonable as all small children, he immediately adapting by answering the question and choosing between the options I presented.
Problem solved. Happy walking home for mother and boy after that. Back to talking about important things like Superman instead of bickering about lunch.
As adults we ask – and answer – questions and unconsciously try to interpret the background nuances and circumstances and expect others to do the same.
We rely on other people to do some of our thinking without our ever stating what we really think – “I can’t believe she asked me to do that!”
We rely on others to make it alright for us – “How could he accept that second cup of tea I offered – didn’t he know I was tired?”
To second guess our needs – “I know I offered but…”
Maybe we should try being more accurate when we express ourselves?
Would it prevent more misunderstandings?
First, though, we’d have to know what we want to say ourselves – and maybe that’s the really difficult part?
What do we truly want to say?
I have a confession to make – I don’t like doing things that I find difficult.
Recently I took a bed apart and moved it to another room. This may seem like a fairly paltry achievement to most of the world – and indeed it is – but ordinarily I keep these annoying, awkward and screwdriver wielding jobs for my long suffering husband.
He never complains. He never says things like, “Am, for a feminist you aren’t that forthcoming when it involves messy/exerting/difficult jobs, are you?” My logic (excuse) is that I had the babies and that that means I am in credit in the messy/exerting/difficult department. This is quite robust logic as he doesn’t (usually) suffer too much pain of the being-torn-limb-from-limb-by-a-giant variety while moving furniture, cutting grass or fixing stuff.
So, I tell myself I do plenty of other things and that I don’t need to do (more) stuff that’s hard for me.
But it’s not true.
We all do.
There is so much unnecessary suffering in the world that things really need to change.
The likelihood is that we all need to do the messy/exerting/difficult jobs – whatever they happen to be for us as individuals – if that is to happen.
As always, nobody says it better than Anon –
Love conquers all, but if love doesn’t do it, try hard work.
I came across this video on entertainment-education and thought you might also like to have a look –
We are all convinced that our conception of beauty is natural. We think we like what we like, nobody teaches us what to like, either people are beautiful or they aren’t.
But is that really the case?
P.S. All of these girls look absolutely beautiful to me.
And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. – Friedrich Nietzsche
It’s easy to believe in war and injustice
in greed and corruption
in hatred and prejudice and violence.
It’s harder to believe in equity and justice and unity and peace.
But once upon a time…
Slavery was the norm – nobody thought it unreasonable that one human being own another.
Everybody believed women were inferior to men.
White people were genuinely thought to be superior to everyone else.
Appendicitis was usually a death sentence…
The thought of human beings flying was ludicrous and nobody had ever dreamed people all over the world could communicate almost instantaneously…
All change happens because at the very, very start someone believes it is possible.
We see what we believe so if we believe something is possible then we will search and search until we find the way to make it a reality – for better or worse.
So – while peace, love, understanding, equity, and justice might not be that easy to envisage, the first step in attaining any of those things is to believe they are attainable. Strain your ears until you hear the music and then – dance…
In 1993, Venezuelan businessman David Brillembourg died leaving behind him an unfinished skyscraper intended to be the third highest building in Caracas. The building’s official title is Edificio Confinanzas but it is better known as David’s Tower. After Brillembourg’s death his business went to the wall and the building lay empty for 14 years.
Venezuela has a huge problem with shortage of living accommodation, many thousands of people are homeless not only due to poverty but also as a result of frequent floods.
In 2007, local families in Caracas, desperate for a place to live, began to move into the giant skyscraper. Now c. 2,500 people live as squatters in this building.
Surely if there is something we all deserve to ‘occupy’ it has to be living space?
Have a look at this fantastic series of photographs from Foreign Policy here –
- Chavez struggles to fix Venezuela’s housing crisis (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
The year spreads out ahead and it’s clean now.
The slate scrubbed with shame and judgement.
We need mirrors not slates.
To reflect the past
into the present
into the future.
Blank slates make lousy maps. (1)
If we were less afraid to make mistakes would we do more and learn more and understand more? Would we benefit from what we do – for better or worse – and learn not to value ourselves and others using shaky standards of success and failure as our measure?
Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. ~Mahatma Gandhi
- it’s a whole new year (thesethingschange.wordpress.com)
- On the rise: Who could break out in 2012? (boston.com)
- Mahatma Gandhi and the Experimental Approach to Life (seymourjacklin.co.uk)