Tag Archives: war

War, a dream thief: Part 2

The fourth interviewee was a youthful rapper. He explained to the two boys reporting what rap is, since they had never heard of it before. Rolling his jumper’s sleeves up, he explained that someone should be free and at ease. When they got the drift, he asked them if they wanted to join in and he taught them a few lines.

Much later in the interview, the rapper performed, joined by the boys, a young girl, who was also a reporter and another young man who sung the chorus. The lyrics were sad because they talked about how no one would pay attention to the music with the ongoing war. Their background only accentuated their plight. They were standing in what seemed to be the remains of what was once a huge building before it collapsed; and, one could barely see the floor beneath them as it was all covered by debris. It was an ominous scene.

The two boys visited a children’s ward in a nearby hospital. If it weren’t for the fact that the wounded occupants of the beds were manifestly young, the first impression one got was that the patients were soldiers who’d been injured during battle.

One patient was a young boy. He explained to the two young brothers that he’d undergone 13 surgeries: 11 to reconstruct his arm and 2 on his thigh. When asked whether he was afraid of airstrikes, he reflexively bended his knees, bringing them up to his chest. He said he was so scared of them that every time he heard them he would cover his ears with his hands. It’s not so hard to understand why he was so petrified… he lost his brother in one of the attacks.

Another boy showed an extensive scar right across the middle of his head, explaining that a flying shard cut him so he had to be stitched up. The scar left a hairless patch on his head. Right next to him was a girl crouched on her wheel chair. She couldn’t walk because her leg was in a cast. Furthermore, she stretched her hand, revealing a missing finger. My heart ached…

As I looked at those children, all I could see was helplessness… how callous the world could be. These were fledgling human beings, who had so much potential… but all their dreams seemed to be going up in smoke… they were not even assured of seeing the next minute, with the constant airstrikes.

The boys’ next stop was a refugee camp. People there were living in very unsanitary conditions after being left homeless by the airstrikes. The children there were not even going to school. It was horrible. Bad as the situation was in Yemen generally, the two brothers realised they were living in much better conditions because they still had a home.

A four year old girl was the last interviewee. She was seated on a swing that was suspended on a tree branch. She was alone, looking so forlorn, which is not typical of a child who’s out playing. The two young brothers were in the company of a girl, who I imagined couldn’t be older than ten. She carried a big beige teddy bear under her arm.

When they got to the little girl, the older girl gave her the teddy bear, just to pep her up. Her interview tugged at my heart strings most. When asked where she lived, she pointed her finger toward the direction of a pile of rubble. Every one of her family members had been killed in the missile attack.

Hidden War in Yemen

She took the three reporters to the debris, showing them what were once her mom’s clothes and cooking pots. One got the feeling she was still trying to comprehend what had happened. Though she was not crying, she seemed robotic, which was very ‘unchildlike’… the war had done that to her.

When asked whether she had anyone to play with, she shook her head, saying she had been waiting for her little brother to grow up. She explained his baby brother had also been killed. The reporters, curious to know how she had survived, she explained to them that she had been out there on the same swing when the missile hit their house. That’s how she narrowly escaped.

She further explained that before her dad died, she heard him calling out, “Nadia”. That was her mom. After everything had calmed down, she went to check what had happened and she saw her mom’s hand dangling from the debris. I was moved to tears.

This four year old girl had, in her very short life, been through what most people only see in horror movies. Her uncle had taken her in… however, after such a traumatic ordeal, I can almost bet life will never be the same for her, no matter how much love and comfort her uncle affords her.

In my very humble opinion, no person, leave alone a child, should have to go through such a traumatic experience, especially taking into consideration that the situation could be avoided. The war in Yemen is not a natural disaster that cannot be prevented.

Most of us take peace for granted. We go to bed at night and wake up to the beautiful sound of birds chirping… however, what I saw in that documentary made me realise that peace is a blessing. The people in Yemen barely sleep, and when they do, they are woken up by deafening explosions. Some never make it out of their houses alive…

When I’m feeling down, the hope of achieving my dreams keeps me psyched up and I get the strength to push on. So it was heart-wrenching to see so many dreams go up in smoke… people were not feeling motivated enough to do things that made them happy, because just as the satirical writer said, it was impossible to be happy when they were surrounded by death.

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War, a dream thief: Part 1

Children should be given the space to grow; and playing is a huge part of that. Additionally, as they grow up, they should be encouraged to dream; because truth is, a child can be anything they set their hearts and minds on. This is what every child requires… an environment where their dreams are nurtured.

But imagine this: a world where a child is happily riding on his bike, and as he enjoys the cool breeze on his face, a missile hits a nearby building, sending shards of glasses into the air. Some shards fly right into his head, injuring him severely.

In pain and panicking, the child cycles back home, trying to save dear life. He’s almost out of breath…When he gets back home, he finds a pile of debris where their beautiful home once stood. Death is in the air… Horror-struck, he jumps off his bike rushing towards the rubble… hoping to find at least a family member… but as he slowly realises, when the house caved in, it came down on everyone who was inside, killing them all. He’s all alone now, in the big scary world…

Sounds horrifying, right? Well there’s this documentary I watched on Deutcshe Welle News last week. It was highlighting the plight of civilians in Yemen, and their experiences were harrowing. It had me thinking, most of the time we take peace for granted…

In the documentary, the reporters were two young boys, possibly around the ages of ten and seven. They were interviewing some people, asking them if they wanted to send a video message to the European Union, to request them to help avert the war in Yemen.

War in yemen

The first interviewee was a woman, branded “Miss War”. When asked about the origin of her name, she explained that there’s usually a photo of her where she’s carrying a bundle of firewood on her head, holding it in place with one hand. In the other hand she’s seen holding a yellow water jerrycan. She depicted the resilience of the Yemeni woman.

The second interviewee was a satirical writer, who said he doesn’t write anymore because it is hard to make jokes when people are surrounded by death. His young son, who seemed six or seven joined him. The two young reporters asked him if he was afraid of the constant bombings, and he said he was not afraid anymore, explaining that where they used to live before was far much worse. So now he’s sort of used to it.

The dad explained further that he has a bike, which he rides even when there are ongoing bomb blasts. Whilst admiring the boy’s courage, I couldn’t help pitying him; he’s gotten accustomed to the feeling of imminent death, that could rob him of his family and everything else he holds dear; including his own life.

That reminded me how much I hated watching news when I was a child, because they brought stories of various places ravaged by war… and that was just too much grief for my fragile mind to absorb. Sadly, these children were living in the actual war, their surroundings, so macabre… and they couldn’t escape it…

In his video message to the EU, the satirical writer was filmed dribbling a football. He said that in Yemen there are good people who’ve been caught up in the war and who are losing their lives every day. Furthermore, he said that Yemen is made up of three things: people, earth and history… But with the ongoing war, it’s losing all of the three and if the war doesn’t cease, there will be nothing left.

The person taking the video panned their surrounding; there were many collapsed buildings around them, plus there was this massive hole on one part of the tarmacked road. The scene seemed like it was cut from an Avengers movie, where the city’s destroyed after a gruelling battle between the superheroes and an almost invincible villain of the piece.

The satirical writer further said that Yemen needed theatres and stadiums. These to him were uniting factors, where people could come together and have fun instead of turning against each other. Asked, by the two young reporters what the cause of the war was, he said no one knew exactly. Even the attackers did not know why they were slaying people.

The third interviewee was a female painter. Most of her paintings were images of the bombings and their casualties. One of them was an eleven year old girl. She was lying on the ground, dead. The painter explained to the two boys that the young girl was heading to school, where she had an exam at eight, when a missile hit a nearby building. Some flying shard hit her, injuring her fatally.

My heart bled for that young girl… maybe she was nervous about having to sit an exam, but at the back of her head, she was encouraged by the thought that she was edging closer to achieving her dreams… she could have been anything she wanted to be…but just like that, her life was ended prematurely. And worst part is, the one who fired that missile might never even know what they did… they killed an innocent child…to them, she’ll just be part of the huge, unidentified collateral damage.

 

A world at war

france church attack

When I was a child the one thing I hated most on TV was news. I hated news with a passion. If by bad luck I found myself watching news and was in a situation where I couldn’t leave the room, I would cover my ears with my hands, just so I wouldn’t hear what was being read out. Yeah, it was that bad. But it wasn’t difficult to figure why I felt that way about news; I’ve never liked anything which revolves around horror and on a typical day, the things one hears on the news are about accidents, bombings, political wars, starvation and such horrid stuff.

Thankfully, as I was growing up, my attitude towards news changed gradually as I developed a liking for matters politics. So now I can’t say I hate news. However, I’m sure if I was a child at the moment, I would possibly hate news more than I even did before. Reason being, it’s too depressing watching news.

Wednesday for instance, I woke up to the news of the France church attack in St. –Étienne-Du-Rouvray, where an 85 year old priest was killed. The attack was allegedly carried out by two radical Islamists, one of whom was identified as a 19-year old man.

Not too long ago, there was the Turkey airport attack, and the other attack in Nice, France, where a Tunisian-born French national mowed through a crowd of people in a truck, zig-zagging past the masses and shooting to maximize the number of deaths. In that incident, at least 84 people were killed, among them children. An eye-witness said bodies were just falling like bowling pins. It was gut-wrenching.

Following the inhumane attack in Normandy, the Pope expressed pain and horror at such callousness, where a priest was brutally murdered in his own church. He said the world was at war, but it wasn’t religious.

I can’t begin to explain what I felt when I heard of the attack. It’s impossible to comprehend why two human beings, in their right minds would think of killing a priest. If a man of God, standing before a sacred altar can’t be deemed as an innocent, then life has lost meaning; the world is indeed coming to an end.

I’ve tried to understand why innocent people are being killed like worthless bugs, and there’s no reason in the world that could possibly make me see the sense in such wanton murders. Guys who knew the 19-year old said he always had sadistic ideas, which they said were based on wrong quotations of the Quran and each time they would try to talk him out of it.

What I refuse to understand, is how someone would boldly, and unprovoked, take innocent lives in the name of God/religion. One thing I’m pretty sure of is that God wouldn’t be in favour of such ruthless killings. If the same God this attackers claim to kill in the name of, is the same one the rest of the Muslim population serves, then why are they against it? Why do Muslim clerics condemn it? Isn’t this a clear indication to these attackers that what they’re doing is absolutely wrong?

Reports say that the Muslim community mourned in the wake of the Normandy attack. Doesn’t this say something to those few who have made it their business to go killing innocent people? Islam is a beautiful religion. I have many friends who are Muslims and they are wonderful people. So why would a few misguided individuals want to sully that?

When I heard of the attack, I was like, “Not again!” My heart bled; for the victims and for the Muslim population. For the former because of the loss of life, and for the trauma the survivors must have suffered; and for the latter, because of how their religion keeps being painted in such bad light.

Pope Francis said the world was at war, but it wasn’t a religious one and I agree with him. I reckoned, every religion has a few ‘bad apples’; individuals who can’t help but create a bad image for that particular religion. So does that justify the rest of the world to judge a religion harshly because of those misguided few? I would think not.

In my case for instance, I would really hate it if someone thought my church was full of paedophiles because a few priests have been accused of molesting children. In that same light, it wouldn’t be fair to label all Muslims terrorists because of the few who go about perpetuating cold-blooded killings in the name of Islam; because one thing I’ve gathered is that Islam explicitly condemns terrorism. In any case, Islam respects all human beings and faiths.

What I’m trying to get at is simple; there are too many problems globally. It would be calamitous, if God-forbid, we converted them into a religious war. There are diverse religions in the world, each with its own beliefs and practices. Instead of letting those differences divide us, we should embrace them and respect them, appreciating that it’s those same differences which make us unique. The world would be such a boring place if we were all alike, don’t you think?

The way I see it, instead of shunning our neighbours because they don’t share the same beliefs we do, we should respect them; and if there are issues in conflict, the best way to solve them would be to do a little research so we can get enlightened. That way, we won’t harbour unfounded suspicions, which are merely based on ignorant hearsay.

united religions

God’s greatest command to mankind is to love; and it’s not hard to understand why. Love is that magical cord, which binds us all together, irrespective of our numerous differences. Now, more than ever before, the world needs love, not war.

 

An instrument of peace

Lord make me an instrument of peace

‘These must be the end days talked about by John in the book of Revelations’. This is the thought that comes to mind everytime I hear about some disturbing occurrence in some part of the world: the war between Israel and Gaza, earthquakes and landslides, life threatening diseases…

That thought, which mostly feels like fear is further heightened by the moral decay in the society; most of the things we do today are what led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Surely, we’re not special than those people who lost their lives in previous Biblical ‘Armageddons’. If we do the things they did, then we’re bound to suffer the same fate.

For this reason, when I hear of people dying in masses I just imagine God is just angry. He is slow to anger but I’m thinking, if we don’t make any effort to correct our bad deeds, He gets angry eventually. He loves us unconditionally and equally (doesn’t have favourites), but that does not mean He is permissive.

God’s greatest desire is for us all to love each other and to live in peace. But the defiant human beings we are, we continue to fight, perpetrating war and hatred; everything God hates. Countless lives have been lost because of wars that could have been prevented.

Not all of us have been to, or live in any of the warring nations I keep hearing about on the news everyday, but we have been involved in at least one fight. Heavy artilleries don’t have to be used for it to be termed a war. It could even be something petty; say picking a fight with a neighbour because their dog backs too loud…etc. Point is we have in one way or another been involved in a fight.

Question is, as an individual, what role do/did you play in that fight? Were you a mediator or a perpetrator? Did you help end the fight or you only added coal to the fire?

‘Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
Where there’s hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there’s doubt faith,
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant me that I may not so much seek:
To console, as to be consoled
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.’

The above is a prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, which embodies his simplicity and poverty. According to Father Kajetan Esser, OFM, the author of the critical edition of St. Francis’ writings, the peace prayer is most certainly not one of the writing of St. Francis.

This prayer, according to Father Schulz, first appeared during the First World War. It was found written on a holy card that had a picture of St. Francis. The prayer bore no name; but because of the card it came to be known as the Peace prayer of St. Francis.

The first time I read this prayer I was around seven years old. But when reading it, in my infantile mind it was just another prayer that had to be recited. At the time, mom was the one who was strictly enforcing our faith, seeing to it that we attended mass and prayed.

At some point, as I grew older, I stopped saying it; I’m not so sure why because I was still saying other prayers. It’s not until two or so years ago that I started saying it again. Unlike the first time I said it, this time I was pondering over every word; taking each word into consideration.

The words did not serve only as a prayer, but as a great piece to meditate on. It made me think about my life; when I’m dealing with other people, do I make them feel happy or do I just make them cry and feel bad about themselves; do I stop a fight or do I only aggravate things? Do I understand people, or I only seek to be understood?

I read each word, examining my conscience, and as I did so, I realized so many faults in my ways. On many occasions I had been selfish. Many are the times I had put my needs before others’; fighting because I only wanted others to understand why I had acted in a particular way; holding grudges because I was reluctant to forgive those who wronged me.

The prayer helps one reflect; what do we inspire in others? Love or hate? Forgiveness or vengeance? Hope or desperation? Sadness or joy? Do we only seek to be loved, rather than love others? Do we forgive, or like the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18: 21-35) we adamantly turn away those who seek our forgiveness? Do we only take without giving back?

Many fights start as small disagreements and eventually they graduate into full-fledged wars, because someone was too unwilling to forgive or understand; because someone was reluctant to love. It’s not too late to do something. We still have a chance to make things better; to prevent more loss of lives. Let’s live in peace.