Saturday, 21 November 2015

Can Extreme Enemies Become Friends?

Dear Reader,

We hear how ISIS/Daesh "must be destroyed". But if we were to think back to 2003 wasn't the organisation to be destroyed called al-Qayida? And they still exist. Furthermore, ISIS/Daesh have since appeared and are even a worse foe.

Therefore, isn't it logical that if we keep bombing it will only create further groups that want to throw their spite at the West, as they have appeared in Libya and other places?

Just what is the alternative?

In my view it's to turn the whole thing on its head and do something that stands a chance of removing these hate groups. Something peaceful!

Abraham Lincoln is reported as saying: "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends? " Well, it must be said that he didn't totally succeed as someone shot him; but that's another story for analysis at some other time. Just now, I'd rather look into the crux of this quotation of his.

In fact, Lincoln can be quoted many times in how he built bridges with supposed enemies. He summed up his attitude to people when he said: "I want it said of me by those who know me best to say that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.” 

Well, Abraham Lincoln operated purely in a domestic scenario and was not faced with the sort of extreme cultural group that we face today, but if we were to look at scripture - Christian, Hindu or Buddhist, and even Muslim - we would find that peace is or should be the ultimate aim for us all. And you certainly do not find peace by literally blowing up your opponent to prove a point.

Over nearly the last 100 years in particular the West has been making trouble for itself in the Middle East, and now we are reaping the anger that meddling has generated. We managed to give Palestinian lands to the Jews (which they have greatly extended on the pretext of creating defence for themselves); we put in puppet heads of government in Iran and Iraq. And America backed al-Qayida against Russia in the 1980s. 

What trouble we started ... and since then (the last 25 years) we've been bombing our way out of it and are still bombing, with no visible sign of success and only further destruction and death of innocents as the observable outcome. All while we leave Israel to perform its own destructive policies.

To me the United Nations (UN) is the significant entity in the current situation and the avenue that must be used to channel some progressive policy. Particularly now that Russia is involved and is working on the side of the Western bloc.

If the UN is not used then I would question why not. Surely the UN should be the entity that can be used to find a way to strangle the supply of financial and logistic support for ISIS/Daesh. From where do they get their support? Doesn't the UN know?

All this to be aided by prayers for peace.

What we don't want is an escalation of war and terrorism. Let us at least find a different approach - whatever that may be!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

What Are 'British Values'? (3) - Is This The Route To Follow?

Dear Reader,

After some reflection, I am wondering whether last week-end's inhuman attacks in Paris actually point to a solution with regard to 'British Values'.

This week I read that in one year alone (last year: 2014), over 32,000 persons had been killed by terrorist activity. Multiply that by a factor of 2 for those who survived but were seriously hurt, then we have a total of around 100,000 very serious casualties in one year … women, children as well as men. The survivors and the families of the dead will be mentally scarred as well. And in addition we must add the numbers who have died at sea in attempting to seek refuge in Europe and elsewhere, such as Australia. And, I suspect, the deaths of Palestinians (are Israeli deaths classified as killed by terrorists?).

If that was just last year's total, what must be the aggregate total of severe casualties since, say, 2010? But many (most?) of those so damaged will have been Muslims. Yet it is the Muslims in the West who will be feeling the backlash of terrorist activity.

The destructive events we have been viewing over the last 12 years (at least) are - I believe - asking us to look deeply within ourselves for lasting Values. Values - in fact - that are not specifically British at all: they must surely be universal. All people breathe and feel about things, no matter who they are - everyone's concerns are the same: every individual wants security and peace.

Christianity (at its core) actually has far more in common with Islam than it may seem. In my view, it’s a time for sharing the core values of our faith (whatever faith it might be) with Muslims everywhere, and decry any attack against them just because they are Muslims.

For those of us who do not have a concrete faith, surely now is the time to address this deeply philosophical issue. And for those that do profess a faith, then it must surely be the time to demonstrate that faith. Doesn't this issue lie at the core of the "Values" that these articles have been discussing?

Now I have a confession to make here. In the first 18 years of my life I was brought up as a Christian, firstly as an Anglican, then as a Methodist and (for a short period) I chose to become an Evangelist. But I subsequently had cause to break with that faith and pursued philosophy, without a great deal of clarification, and I became an agnostic. But after I passed 30, some strange events made me evaluate the whole issue of spirituality and philosophy. 

For awhile I looked at the Occult, and then I somehow became attracted by the inner teachings of Islam, and spent the next 7 years in experiencing Islamic spirituality in various ways. That was then followed by further strange events eventually culminating in a deep awareness and experience of Hindu teachings, particularly as recounted in the Bhagavad Gita. and as explained by my Guru.

Now in my 70s, I espouse the inner truth of all religious paths.

As I perceive it, the problem today (and as it has been for many, many years) is that where religious faith exists at all, it is usually of such a sectarian kind that the follower becomes blinded to the similarity of the subject in all faiths. Outwardly, religions differ, of course, but inwardly they are akin - very much akin.

So, Dear Reader, I put it to you that if we consider ourselves to be Christian, then let's look at the real teachings of Jesus and the saints of that glorious religion - particularly the likes of St. Francis of Assissi. And if we consider ourselves to be Muslim, then let's look at the real teachings of Prophet Muhammed and the saints of that glorious religion  - particularly the likes of .Jalalludin Rumi.

Not just to look at those great personages, but at their common theme, which is Love, probably the greatest Value of all: especially when it is put into practice. A great exponent of Love was Mahatma Gandhi.

In my view, it is Love that is the greatest requirement, not mere subservience to man-made laws - laws made by the very people that took us into this time of great danger. Surely it is Love that should be at the core of British Values?

I suggest that instead of meekly following such laws, we should act on the answer to the internal question, "What would Love do?" I say we've been using our heads too much - it's time for us to become more balanced.

Helping the people of Palestine might be a good start: that act would help to stop ISIL in its tracks.

Please feel free to Mail me!

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