Tag Archives: Syria

This Week

19 Apr

This hasn’t been a very nice week.

After Monday’s tragedy in Boston, American comedian Patton Oswalt posted his thoughts on Facebook. These thoughts were instantly “liked” and “shared” and “commented on” because that’s what we do now. Oswalt’s message of “the good will always outnumber the evil” made people feel better. It made me feel better.

See, I’ve got some people I love in Boston, and when I first saw the news, I was drenched in that panic sweat of wondering if my girls were all right. Luckily, I quickly learned they were. Despite that, though, I was still stained and couldn’t sleep and I made a mistake: I got onto the Internet. Eventually I found Oswalt’s note and felt better enough to finally close my eyes for the night.

However, before I got to his uplifting message, I read a lot of other things. I read lots of sadness. Sadness is not nice to read. It is much more not nice to feel.

I read fear. I could understand fear. I read anger, and yes, I could understand anger.

I read hate.

I read speculation. I read speculation undoubtedly inspired by sadness and fear. And hate. Some from experts and some from people who were, how can I say this politely, clearly not experts. I read threats. I read bigotry. I read complete and utter ignorance.

But I also read facts. About the bombs and dead and injured in Boston. And the bombs and dead and injured in Iraq. And the bombs and dead and injured in Syria. And Somalia. And Pakistan. All those bombs and dead and injured in a period of two days.

All those people drenched in that panic sweat, wondering if their girls were all right.



The not-niceness continued throughout the week. News outlets reported speculation as fact, the hate and bigotry and ignorance thrived on even momentary bursts of fuel for their fire.  And more bombs. And more dead and injured. In Pakistan. In Bangalore. In Iraq. And now again in Boston. And in places I have not read about.



Do the good outnumber the evil? I do not know. It seems hard to see sometimes.

I suppose it’s about faith, a faith in ourselves as people, as human beings. But bombs are made by human beings. Animals didn’t invent hate and bigotry. Plants do not threaten and speculate and revel in their own ignorance.

I don’t know if I have the faith that there’s more good than evil.

But this is the world we live in.

We must be the good. Even when we’re sad and afraid and angry. And surrounded by hate and bigotry and speculation and ignorance.

Even if we are outnumbered.


The History Books of Future Generations

29 Mar

This is an interesting time to be alive.

Which is good for us, as it just so happens this is the time when we’re all alive. No use banging on about 1936 being an interesting time because I’m guessing most of you were not around during that year (despite my rather “mature” writing throughout this site, it appears to be bringing in a younger and younger audience every single day).

One complaint often made about our time is that we all possess the attention span of a slightly dim goldfish. With rolling news, Twitter, soundbites, we can’t seem to focus on any one thing for very long. Workers’ pay is docked, children are medicated, lovers are chastised–all because people struggle to keep their attentions tuned into one task. Many cultural critics argue that it is the greatest problem facing our world today, but sadly by the time they get through their first sentence of explanation, most viewers have already turned over to see the latest sports score, weather update or Katie Price scandal.

There’s a lot going on, and it can be difficult to keep up with all of it.  I confess sometimes I struggle. I have publishers, reporters, well-wishers and admirers clamoring for my attention every waking hour and you know I don’t like to disappoint. But all of us need to keep our priorities straight and  deal with our day-to-day demands while still being informed, global citizens. Otherwise, we are likely to miss much of what will someday make up the pages of history books.

For example, we are living in a time of great protest. From Egypt to Wisconsin, Syria to London, millions of people are taking to the streets to have their voices heard. Were you one of those history-makers? Have you read about them, watched the reports, spoken up for or against? Do you know why they’re protesting? Some people’s excuse for their current events ignorance is that it is all too depressing to take in. Maybe they would make the time to focus on what’s happening in the world if what’s happening in the world wasn’t so shitty. It’s true that lots of shit is going down right now; from Japan to Libya to the misery and ugliness we see in our own neighbourhoods (yes, Mr Grimshaw, I am talking about you and your penchant for wearing your dressing gown unbelted)—there’s a lot of bad at the moment. But not paying attention to it doesn’t stop it from happening. We live in a “global” world now, don’t forget: if we’ve learned one thing from Ashton Kutcher, we’ve learned that one flap of a butterfly’s wings can cause a tornado on the other side of the world. I propose that, as depressing as the news sometimes is, you’re better off knowing about that troublesome butterfly so you’ve got a better sense of when to expect your trailer home to be carried off in a twister.

Pay attention to the world. Knowledge does many things—it can protect you, it can benefit you and it can change the world.

I apologise for the lateness of this post. Christopher and I participated in Earth Hour this evening, and I’m afraid that once the electricity was turned off and we got out the battery-operated entertainment, we just seemed to lose all track of time.