Monday, February 21, 2011

Bloodshed and tears

It's been a strange couple of days.  On the one hand I've had an absolutely lovely time with family here from Australia.  On the other hand every time I hear a bit of news I hear that someone else, or some dozens or even hundreds, have been injured or killed in the Middle East, not in a fresh outbreak of the gulf wars nor in Israeli -Palestinian clashes nor any of the other ongoing hostilities, but in revolutions against dictatorships.  Yet again the efforts of oppressors to silence their opposition are failing because the technology available to so many people allows pictures and messages to get out of even the most strangling blackout.  I'm so grateful to the people who make the equipment and keep the signals working against all the odds.  Tonight I watched a few minutes of Al-Jazeera and was struck by the chaotic nature of rebellion.  The reporter was calmly trying to explain and tell the story but the pictures were constantly changing and he was getting so many bits of information pushed at him that the story was disjointed.  That made it more real, more immediate, than the more measured and careful tones of the BBC or ITV. 
When I was teaching English I taught a number of students who were temporary immigrants from Bahrein and from Libya.  They all returned home when their husbands' training here was finished and many of them had young children.  9 years or more later I can't help wondering if any of those young men and women are out on the streets - are any of them victims of the horrifically violent response from the government?  I shall probably never know, but I pray that they are safe.  And I pray that their countries will become the open democratic countries the people seem to want.  It won't be an easy road, but surely western and eastern democracies alike can support them to find the form of democracy that suits them, their culture and their temperament.

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