Thursday, 20 October 2011

Death = Death

So I’ve just been scrolling through an endless list of facebook and twitter statuses rejoicing in Gaddafi’s death. People have taken to the streets, waving flags, singing songs, dancing...as if somehow true triumph and victory has finally been achieved because blood has equalled blood. The lack of humanity never ceases to amaze me.

The Quran teaches reverence for every life, even the most repugnant ones and Islam stresses that the death of a person should be observed in a respectful and solemn way for all people, not just Muslims.

Gaddafi was a monster. But do we really think that violence, even a ‘justified’ act of violence, has the capacity to heal the wounds inflicted by violence - or to end the cycle of violence? No! Returning hate for hate multiplies hate and we only end up in a vicious cycle. Through his death, through violence, we may have murdered the monster, but we haven’t murdered the ‘mentality’ and Libyan vengeance is far from served.

Its one thing to be relieved and glad that a threat is no longer, but its another thing to dance on someone's grave. There is a huge difference between holding someone accountable for their actions and being joyous in revenge. How can we tell people to stop taking lives, when we are celebrating deaths? Like an old Chinese saying goes: ‘In order to have power in an argument, you must first not violate any laws yourself.’ The way we react to the death of our enemy, says a lot about ourselves and what we stand for.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Resume!

It's been quite a while since I last posted and I will write a new post describing the changes in my life and resume my weekly (or in some cases monthly!) ramblings of events occuring in the world, the news, people, culture and anything that I hold dear and close to my heart. I also plan to include a few of my photography in my upcoming posts!

So to start off I thought I'd post my writings on current events which to some may be a little old but in my opinion still relevant :) So here we go:

Britain’s youth must not be underest─▒mated - The wrath of the tuition fee proposal

Contrary to the biggest upheaval in higher education in this country in a generation, I’ve been tentative and uncertain in gathering my own thoughts on the tuition fee proposals. In any situation seeking compromise, talking with other people about a conflict is usually an unpleasant and difficult experience. You have to be ever so careful in order to not offend and work hard to understand the other side. Observers representing all shades of opinion have filled the airwaves and column inches with warnings of disaster for UK universities and students. We’ve heard about “distressed” parents and “devastating blows” to higher education. We watched while Nick Clegg and his party wrestled with their consciences. And then, we witnessed the ‘cyber’ generation, the ‘apathetic’ ones rekindle the ancient spirit of youth activism, protesting in their thousands and leading the fight for free education. More importantly, we were then faced with demonstrations in the streets that occasionally bordered on the dangerous and damaging – the now infamous ‘Millbank Riots’ - and the debate over the limits of acceptable protest.

To put it into perspective, what we did see in the previous months was a return to early Nineteenth Century society – an embattled working class, and a middle class attempting to exert its control. While any sort of violence should not be condoned, it is easy to empathise with the students frustrations. It is all very well complaining about people protesting and getting angry, but it appears from the outset that the only way to be heard by politicians is to make a scene and this just seems like a failing in a ‘democratic’ country. The question that we should be asking ourselves instead is WHY they are protesting and WHY they are angry? It is important to consider that perhaps those committing the outrages are not ‘a few bad apples’ but decent, principled people driven to fury by the failure of our democracy?

One particular concern of mine was the introduction of a market in higher education in which students base their course choice on cost price alone – and where public funding for most subjects is removed. This would mean that while the arts and humanities face extinction, subjects with a self-evident ‘market value’ will be placed on a pedestal, in the understandable hope of a certain return for investment. After all, why should anyone promote the study of Shakespeare, Austen, the history of conflict and resolution or the philosophical meaning of life when there are more important issues that need our attention and require our money?

It is exactly this sort of thinking which will inevitably harm our education system as a whole and the ways in which we interact as a society. While humanities neither bring an end to war nor prevent disease and hunger, it can teach society WHY these miseries persist and WHY society continues to make the same mistakes over and over again. Hamlet isn’t an antidote or a recipe for how we should live our lives, but it can allow us to critically reflect on the relationship between justice and revenge. And while Jane Austen novels mainly revolve around the Byzantine machinations of suitors and hungry brides, even the briefest act or dialogue or the mere description of a character’s manner of dress is freighted with moral content.

In endorsing the Brown review, the government has also agreed to transferring the whole cost of tuition through a loan system that will lead to massive levels of debts. This would mean young students from more privileged backgrounds are more likely to participate in higher education than their working class peers. It would mean returning to the time when only the rich, the privileged and the powerful were able to attend university, to maintain their elite status. Surely it is only right to assume that education should be right at all levels, a right which is earned by ability and not by the size of one’s wallet. No one should be a victim of their Post Code.

While it is important to discuss the shortcomings of the tuition fee proposal, any arguments are considered cyclical and pointless without a credible alternative. If no one puts forward a worthy counter strategy, then UK may be forced to accept these changes and the potential social stratification they entail. But no amount of misfortune should be allowed to obscure one fundamental truth: that the protest at Millbank is only the beginning of the seething discontent that has accumulated as a result of the cuts. The movement of the students marks the initial steps in the class struggle, a prelude to the awakening of the British working class and proof that Britain’s youth must not be underestimated.