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There’s been a lot of focus of refugees and migrants in the news here in the UK this week, and the political rhetoric is all over the place, so I had to write about it today.

My thoughts are muddled, but I know that it hurts to watch the news reports.  I swing from horrified to terrified to traumatised that this is the world, right now.

There is some information worth thinking about – in respect of Syrian refugees alone – courtesy of World Vision:

  • Nearly 12 million people have been displaced
  • Over 4 million of these are refugees in neighbouring countries
  • About half of the displaced Syrians are children

The population of the country before 2011 was around 22 million people: nearly 18% of the population are now refugees.

Add to this number those fleeing violence, persecution or totalitarianism in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea and you can see there’s a vast number of our fellow travellers through life who cannot sleep easy in their beds at night, who cannot build a positive future for themselves, who do not feel safe.  People who no longer have a home, anywhere.

Then consider the people in our own communities, living with illness, poverty, abuse, homelessness.  Those who are afraid of the world they experience, and who have been demonised simply for struggling.

It’s hard to see the good in the world, sometimes.

That is where we come in – those of us who want to take some sort of constructive action, or spread a positive message to counter some of the negatives.  I have seen all sorts of examples – from donations of goods and services, and people taking carloads of essentials to makeshift camps, to practical support such as offering a home to a displaced family or a helping hand to an elderly neighbour.

People have the capacity to be amazing.

Even just a friendly smile and wave can change someone’s day.  In fact a friendship offered may not be the first practical support someone needs, but longer term, it could be the difference between existing and living.

We might not be able to change the world as a whole, but perhaps we can each change one person’s experience of the world for the better. That sounds like a triumph to me.

Just remember…

Humanity: it’s all about us.

Be peaceful,

EJ

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This week’s book was gruelling reading.

Book 7 – Empire of the Sun, by J.G. Ballard. The book follows the experiences of Jim, the child of British ex-pats living in China when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour. As the Japanese take control of Shanghai, the 11 year old Jim is separated from his parents.

The book follows his experiences of the war, first living alone in the deserted mansions of Shanghai, then in the care of the unscrupulous Basie, and onto life in the Lunghua prisoner camp. We see Jim become wily but also unsure of his loyalties, separated from the other prisoners by age, heritage and attitude. The reader is given the impression that Jim protects some of the other camp prisoners, but there is a sense of Jim being unaware of the actions and attitudes of those around him who protect and watch over him. By tying himself to Basie he lives a life on the edge of morality, crossing over it as the need arises.  Despite being a prisoner of the Japanese he finds himself hoping for their military success, and in awe of the pilots he sees fly off into their own experience of war.

Although the book isn’t a direct autobiography, Ballard stated that he drew on his own experiences of the camp to write the book, and that gives it an awful resonance. Jim becomes inured to the death around him, fascinated rather than appalled at the bodies and bones he sees. The descriptions of violence are generally very bare but every so often something is described in almost cartoon-like colour and vividness which was hard for me to read.

Jim is clearly damaged by the experience and yet seems to gain a degree of emotional strength from the art of surviving; this resilience is shown to be a facade though, because for all his experiences he only feels safe, and at home, in the camp.

I read this book knowing what it was about but not knowing how hard-edged it would be, and I think it’s one that will stay with me, whether I want it to or not. It was tough and I need to read something completely different next.

It has encouraged me to leave the gritty stories aside for a while, but it was powerfully written and very effective.  As far as reviews go, I think the book did what it was trying to do, and that’s all any writer can want.

Happy reading,
EJ
🙂

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I recently read that in around 3,400 years of human history, there have only been about 250 years without war.  In my stories I don’t really focus on the political, with or without a capital ‘p’, but information like that makes me think I should.

It’s not my normal style to write particularly serious blogs, but I really wanted to share this fact; so when I was writing this month’s peace post, I decided to incorporate it.  But, I also wanted to talk about love and understanding – so I chose to write two posts.  This is part one.

The challenge for August was about peaceful music.  Well, this isn’t a peaceful song, but it’s crying out for a peaceful world.  This song was recorded in the 1960’s, and is very much about the world as it was then – but if a few words are changed, you can imagine it being written today.

Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire

There are more modern, more well-known and probably more popular protest songs, but this is the first one I remember hearing, when I was playing my mum’s records as a child.  I have been listening to it, on and off, for about 20 years.

I often talk about a personal peace, a level of tranquility in my own life.  But there are millions of people who don’t have peace – not because they don’t want it, but because they are denied it.

This song reminds me how important peace is.

I hope you have a peaceful day,

EJ

🙂

B4Peace central

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