wordly images

just puttin’ it out there…….

Posted in Helen Jones - Wordly Images by hellyj on March 1, 2009
will peace ever be possible?

will peace ever be possible?

I guess we need to start with our immediate environments?

As long as we continue to invade other countries, then how can there ever be peace?

How can it be if there is only one ‘god’ that we fight so to prove that our particular ‘god’ is the ‘One’?

Innocent, naive, idealistic questions?

Afghanistan came up last night during a ride back to the city from New Jersey with some friends. F was talking about being struck with how young a lot of the military guys are when he was last out there. They basically come out of school with little or no qualifications and sign up (just what the forces like – all the better to mould them perhaps?) for, initially, the next 5-7 years. For many, especially now so, their first tour of duty is very likely to be thrown into a real live war zone which I am sure no amount of training can prepare them for(?). Apart from a veiled attempt at getting to know the local culture of the people they are meant to be ‘defending’ (que Human Terraine Programmes), there seems to be little or no interest in learning about who those people really are, what their country or religion etc is about. Does that not seem odd? I know that wherever I choose to travel, I want to know as much as I can. Ok, I understand that these men and women do not get to choose (and would never in a million years choose to be where they are sent!) where it is they are going to be holed up for for the next 3-4 months, –  i.e. Afghanistan – and they are seen as the enemy after all. But, how can peace ever be obtained if we don’t even attempt to understand the culture that you are surrounded by and apprently trying to defend? We go in, gung-ho, with our big size 11’s, and dictate how it should be is why because, surely, we know better – coming from a (very) relative democracy?

I was watching a doc a few weeks ago (I think called ‘A Soldiers Story’ – check it out on BBC iPlayer) about a young soldier in the British Army who wa son his 3rd tour of duty in Afghanistan. He signed up when he was 17 years old and got deployed as soon as he was 18 to the Middle East. For someone so young (he was 23 by the time the doc came out), he kind of stood out amongst his peers there because he really did try to learn about the Afghani people, the language, their religion and so on. He was liked by the locals because of this, you could see it. He was also constantly out there, up front, in the line of fire, ‘doing his job’ – like some hero from Hamburger Hill or something. And all for £19k a year!?! (what????) It wasn’t unusual for his company, or others too I’m sure, to be on foot patrol for 80 days straight (yes, thats bordering on 3 months!), being fired at every single day of those 80 days and,in the meantime, trying to teach the Afghan soldiers how to be soldiers too! Then they would be lucky if they got a week off before they had to go back out there. So, it was little wonder to all of us watching this doc that when he did get leave back home, he ended up being arrested time and time again for assaulting civilians in bars, defending what he did, when he was goaded again and again about being a soldier boy. He was on constant guard. How could he switch off from being this ‘mean clean fighting machine’?

How can any of us ever understand what it is like to be in the kind of situations that these young men and women are in every day, over and over again, not knowing if the old guy pulling the donkey and cart in a little village West of Halmand was not the one that had just been shooting and trying to kill you 5 minutes previously?!

I know I’m kind of meandering all over the place abit here, but it does all seem to be a wee bit of a mess, this trying to find peace malarky, especially when we all seem to have our own way of impressing it upon countries around the world (let alone in our own neighbourhoods!).

So, will peace ever be achievable? More to come on this posting for sure……..

W Houston St, NYC, 2009 (hellyjphotos.2009.copyright)

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2 Responses

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  1. Noreen said, on March 2, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    My dear you are full of common sense and this blog illustrates that sense extremely well. However the realpolitik practised by our governments is protectionism pure and simple. Young men drafted or joining the army cos there’s no other jobs other than Macjobs where they live are just pawns in their games. They will never see the sense that is so patently obvious as it is not in their best (ie getting power and staying in power) interests. I probably sound very cynical but I am afraid after a youth of idealism I have very little left…

  2. hellyj said, on March 2, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I think maybe my cynicism didn’t come through strongly enough then? I’m with you, sista!


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