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When is the best time to have lived ….. how about now? – – Thoughts about the state of the world.

6, December 2012

What follows is a reaction to a discussion that began on the IMDB website’s Message Board, from reflections prompted by the viewing of a programme about the second world war – history from just before my 1948 birth.

Written discussions had developed about the amount of weaponry used by the English Police at that time, prompting the question from another … “what era would you like to have lived in and what would you want to be?”

I spontaneously wrote:-


What strikes me is that war is war and its horrors live on. In the same way as I have been protected from war and have avoided close involvement other world citizens are living through it TODAY.


Think of those folk on the borders of Syria and Turkey in danger whatever way they go, or folk in the so called Democratic Republic of Congo. I once worked with a man who was due to be deported there from the English prison where I had met him and he had committed a comparatively minor acquisitive crime.


His story was that his father was so concerned for his safety because of political developments; he had raised as much money as he could to buy him a dangerous passage to Europe as a late teenager. But he could not make out and ended up committing crime. My task was to help prisoners prepare for release – I effectively had one interview a few days before, when I would set up arrangements for supervision by the Probation Services in the UK of those subject to statutory licences and to suggest possible ways of the others seeking help if they wanted or needed it – such as information about addiction treatment, emergency accommodation etc..


Well I did not know much about life in Kinshasa, where as far as I could discern he would eventually end up. I tried to get him to focus his mind on what he would do when he got off the plane in Kinshasa Airport, and he couldn’t – all he could say after reflection and in terror was – “I’ll be killed!” – it still troubles me today, I have no idea what happened to him, but that is what he believed.


In recent years I have come into contact with peace workers in Palestine and one man on returning a few years ago, gave a talk, and told of meetings he had with an elderly  Palestinian woman who had shown him her family’s former home area – now occupied and not open to her family – she blamed “The Balfour Declaration” of the British Government after the First World War that dealt with the Governance of Palestine – then by the UK – that was what preceded the increasing settlement of European Jews – many refugees from Pogroms or escapees from the Holocaust. In a few weeks there is a major BBC TV feature on TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) who came to understand the Arabs before the First World War and then took part in collaborations with the local population supporting them against the Ottoman’s and aiding the allies efforts against the Germans. However, Lawrence did not seek to impose European ways on the Arabs which subsequently the post war treaties did. And still the reverberations continue. Those Arabs were cheated on my behalf, just like many Native Americans and Australians were cheated by the industrial developments of European Settlers. So worldwide there are underlying conflicts. Most of the native South Americans died out by European diseases. The few that are left are having their forests invaded and their way of life destroyed so that we can have as much imported timber as is needed in the already industrialised areas of the globe.


I am indeed grateful to my parents and their contemporaries for doing enough collectively to stop the invasion of Britain until the might of the US and others came to our active aid after they were attacked at the end of 1941. Gradually Europe and North Africa and the (so called) Far East* were eventually returned to some sort of independence and peace. However, I also have much gratitude for my Quaker friends and predecessors and others who steadfastly refused to participate and have since campaigned for the end of weapons of mass destruction.


We need to end war now. Ultimately fighting between peoples is pointless as it saps resources that are needed for the greater threats of climate change and the increase of population, beyond which the earth has the capacity to feed all. There are already millions starving and some dying for want of basic medical services, fresh drinking water and sanitation, whilst I pontificate about a TV programme, produced for profit, entertainment and … education!


*Whether any place is East or West, depends where the measurements start from – and us Brits and arrogant Europeans selected and got the rest to accept, Greenwich, a little place about 5 or 6 or so miles west of Westminster where the English Government was centred. The Sovereign had a hunting lodge at Greenwich and later a military base and then an astronomical observatory!



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