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Friday 13 January 2012

We Actually Get On Rather Well....

Many years ago as a student I spent the summers working as a guide in a well-known pilgrimage centre in southern France. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, not least because the place in which I worked needed only one person from each country to act as a guide for the people who spoke that language. Consequently, I was the only English person at the Youth Camp in the Pyrenees where we were housed. In the evenings, we all ate together and, even though we spoke in different languages (and I confess that English people are probably the worst in the world for mastering other languages – I stand in awe of those multi-lingual European, Asian and African friends!!), somehow we managed to communicate very clearly with one another and have some of the profound conversations that come with the fervour of youth!
Amid the laughter and the fun, we often joked about stereo-types (yes, the English were seen as undemonstrative, the Italians as ebullient, the Americans as friendly and so on and so on until we realised that we were playing our roles and laughed about it, hugged one another – or playing at being English, shook hands!) but one conversation recurred over and over again: how could we ever have been at war with each other? How could there ever be any wars, when people from all over the world enjoyed our differences, enjoyed laughing at ourselves, enjoyed learning about different ways of life and how things are in other countries...It reminded me very much of a garden filled with flowers of so many contrasting scents and colours but all blending together beautifully.

Ever since then, and from long before that, I have repeatedly asked myself the same question...how can there be wars when people are so interesting and so  good? Why must we clash when we could live in harmony? I think of the soldiers of opposing sides who played football with each other at Christmas in 1914 and imagine they, too, had the same thought, “Why are we killing each other? They are just like us!”

 For some time I have been working on the trilogy about the royalties in the First World War ‘Shattered Crowns’ and the more I learn, the more disgusted I am to discover the depths to which a very few people sank in order to gain control over many others for no other reason than to make up for their own sense of inadequacy and addiction to power. The same methods that they used to set the war in motion are still applied today. Firstly, create fear so people will listen to you. Secondly, give people an object for their fear (a nation or a terrorist group). Thirdly, do something dramatic and horrific to cause outrage in people so that they will agree to fight in the name of ‘right’. Once you have achieved that, you have your war. You can make a fortune from it in arms deals and financial takeovers and explain away the national debt, and at the same time take control of the natural resources of one country after another. It’s interesting, for example, that the Treaty of Versailles deprived Germany and Austria of the lands which were richest in resources....

 In the 1980s, as I recall, the whole of South America seemed to be in a state of endless revolutions and discord. One after another so-called tyrants were being toppled but at the same time I was hearing from groups like Christian Aid and CAFOD that the fruit-growers (the ordinary, good people who made a living from the land) were being driven out of their homes and livelihood were having their crops – worth millions of pounds and dollars- taken over by ‘foreign’ companies. Interesting, too, that this came at the time when we were first told we need to eat/drink ‘five a day’ fruit wise. Last Spring/Summer the Middle East was filled with revolutions and there are all kinds of oil deals going on...The myth of global warming (oops, sorry, that was blown out of the water, now we call it climate change) was losing its impact so we needed something else to scare us...and to make us cheer about the ‘downfall of tyrants’ – Hurrah! They killed Bin Laden! Hurrah, they killed Gaddafi! Hurrah they killed Saddam! And before that, hurrah they killed Nicholas II! Hurrah, they killed Charles I! Hurrah they killed...they killed....they killed...and still it goes on....

And one day we wake up and find ourselves in a Youth Camp in Lourdes where there are Germans, English, American, Rwandan, Lebanese, South African, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Australian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Iranian, Indian, Afghan, Iraqi, Mexican, Brazilian people (to name but a few!) sitting together, sharing ideas, appreciating differences...and it becomes clear that the people who think they rule the world are people of no nation beyond their own flimsy egos. We are not afraid of one another. We have no need to fear our neighbour. Most people are good and those who set out to destroy only do so to make up for their own sense of inadequacy.

Wouldn’t t it be wonderful if this could be the year to end war? When, rather than being built on murder and sacrifice and fear, the vision for the future is built on wisdom, toleration, beauty, appreciation of differences, confidence in our own innate loveliness and above all mutual respect? I believe it is possible if we believe in the innate goodness and Godliness of people, instead of believing in the darkness of others....


Tess said...

Beautifully expressed and true...
Thank you, Christina.

Ron Paul 2012 :-)

Christina said...

Thank you, Tess :-)

Not being an American, I am reluctant to write of your elections but, having followed some of the recent events and read/seen the manifestos and what different candidates say, I appreciate the last line of your comment! Oh for more honest politicians like that not only for America but for the good of all the world!

Thank you for commenting!!