Thursday, 28 August 2014

About The Blog

When people are exposed to war, it can come in a variety of forms and is received in a variety of ways. Most people hear about war on the news, along with the high politics of diplomatic interventions and elaborate sounding strategy. It’s often all too easy to retreat into simplifying narratives of which side did what to who and when, with little consideration for the effects of these macro-decisions for real people, the humans who have to endure the statesmen’s posturing.

That’s why over time I’ve become increasingly interested in what it means to be a human in a conflict zone. What makes people hate? How and why can the human condition be twisted and manipulated by violence? How do those involved in war interact with and perceive each other in the distinct atmosphere it creates? These are the questions that often get left out of grand discussions of conflict and the broad aspiration of this blog is, with the admittedly limited experience I’ve had, to provide a platform to project and discuss the ‘human’ in war as I have interpreted it.

I’m conscious that this blog’s title may suggest that finding humanity in conflict zones is quite a task and perhaps patronisingly implies that those who find themselves in them are somehow ‘less’ than human. However, the opposite is intended. Behind some of the most tragic stories of loss and despair, I’ve found inspiring accounts of what it really means to be human- resolve, compassion and the hope for a peaceful future.

Of course, war can so brutally bury that humanity under many layers of hate and fear so that it is often harder to find than elsewhere. Indeed, my own worst ideas about what humans are capable of inflicting on each other have often been stretched by what I’ve heard and seen. But that is exactly the point of this blog- to sift through my recollections and interpretations of these horrendous stories and find the humanity amongst it.

The basis of this idea struck me on my first visit to Belfast, a city divided by history, religion and politics. I was intrigued by the dualities that had been ingrained in people’s minds and how that fed into an overwhelming atmosphere of tension. How did people deal with living on either side of a ‘peace wall’ or being privy to frequent rioting? More specifically, what had made some people lose sight of a common humanity, so much so that they were Protestant or Catholic before simply being human?

This most recent summer gave me the opportunity to experience this dynamic in a different setting, this time in Israel and Palestine. Although a completely different context, my experience there seemed to evoke those same questions of how sentiments of nationality, ethnicity and religion could often be the justification for inhumane practice and devastating conflict. After having lived in Palestine for a month, the stories from that trip will naturally be the main focus of what is to follow. However, the discussions that I hope emanate from them are no doubt analogous to many conflict areas around the world.

Ultimately, I aim to try and share at least just a fraction of the inspiring experiences that I had this summer. Though Palestine was for me sometimes the place of tension, pessimism and even sadness, it was more often the place of laughter, calm and most importantly hope. The people I was blessed to have met motivated me to believe that violence is not the default setting for the human, something the writing here wants to reflect. 

In as much as we can make conflict, we can ‘un-make’ it too. The separation walls in the West Bank didn’t just appear; someone somewhere had the motivation to put them up. In sharing this blog with you, I hope to play my very tiny part in one day bringing them down, in Palestine, around the world and in our minds.

No comments:

Post a Comment