What price freedom?

No one should be a member of a terrorist organisation.

No one should support one, financially or otherwise, or encourage others to do so. Those that do, should be brought to justice.

But being angry isn’t a crime.

Support for the African National Congress in its battle to bring down Aparthied was a moment in human history when a country’s capacity for cruelty seemed far greater than it’s capacity for nurture. Popular opinion agreed that the regime was the aggressor, and ‘the people’ were fighting for their freedom.

As a global community today, we are far less unified in our understanding of who is attacking, and who is defending. The United Nations seems divided and powerless. Allegations of torture and summary executions further obfuscate our belief in what is right and wrong. Weapons change hands with little or no visibility of who is paying. One minute the regime is a friend, and the next it is an enemy.

What connects those who fight is their belief in what they are doing, what differentiates them is their perspective. In the UK, we are now dealing with the extremely uncomfortable situation of mothers in neighbouring communities seeing their sons leave to fight on opposite sides of the same war.

What thoughts are we offering our children as they prepare for adulthood, in a world that has become so complex that few of us understand it. Perhaps it is time to offer a more varied philosophical tool-box than we are at present, that we might help prevent radicalization on the one hand, and the perpetuation of fear on the other.

For me, Carl Sagan said it all in his “Pale Blue Dot” speech

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Picture of a pilot

“Grounded”

I went to see “Grounded” on Friday night, an extremely powerful and thought provoking monologue charting the journey of a female USAF fighter pilot as she becomes a mother, then a drone pilot, and finally in her own eyes, a terrorist.

The actor skillfully navigates an emotional journey that holds a mirror up to those who believe they have the right to identify and kill another human, either by pulling the trigger or by sanctioning it. It seemed all the more disturbing when the pilot was in a desert near Las Vegas and the target was in a different desert on the other side of the world. She powerfully confronts the surveillance that is all around us, at home and abroad, and asks questions of the audience about their preconceptions of who has the right to monitor another, to what extent, and for what purpose.

 

Where do you draw the line?

My own view is that the balance should be on the side of freedom of speech. I believe that a civilized society should be precautionary, but not oppressive. That the law should clearly differentiate between thought and deed. Unless we hold true to this principle, we cannot expect others to do the same. We should be clear about our values but respect those who may not share them, up to they point where they break the law. We must be careful not to move the line, the law, to the point that it reinforces rather than diminishes the problems.

There are no winners in a fight, just one side that loses less badly. We need faith to be a philosophy for understanding, not a weapon of fear. All of this is why I support the Green Party’s call for peacekeeping, for freedom to think, and for diplomacy not war.

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“No wound received in the field,

Can compare to the pain,

Of losing a child,

A hundred men may die in battle,

But many times that number,

Feel their loss,”

From A parent should never bury their own child, by Wolfpoet

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