June 5 2017

A pause to reflect

First …

… a disclaimer. This is my personal blog, so what follows are my own views, expressed in my own way. I don’t expect my readers to agree with me and I respect your own opinions as I would hope you respect mine.

A sad day

Yesterday, like millions of my countrymen, I was deeply saddened by Saturday night’s events in London. Deeply saddened. Even those words don’t come close to summarising my feelings. Events such as this one and Manchester before it render words impotent; rendering me unable to adequately express my emotions, exacerbating my frustration.

On hearing of the frenzied knife attack I was close to tears — a feeling that would repeat itself several times through Sunday. Once again, hate-filled parasitic psychopaths were on the streets of this country slaughtering and maiming our people with apparent impunity. Yes, it cost them their lives, but the deed was done, their perverse mission accomplished.

Again, I was imagining the hospital beds with victims who’s lives had been ruined, their bodies maimed, their peace of mind torn asunder. Those grieving for loved ones who had been taken from them by crazed, hate-filled maniacs who loathe to see others enjoying life to the full.

My frustration was borne out of not only my inability to do anything in response, but my intense pride at being a Briton. Despite the seditious efforts of our nay-saying, finger-pointing, fear-mongering media, I’m proud of this nation, its heritage, accomplishments and values.

Britain is a fine country. The finest in my view. From this tiny island we have influenced world events like no other. Yes, our empire is long gone but its strength lives on in our very DNA. We are a strong nation, punching way above our weight when the need arises as it often has in the past. Our forces are the finest in the world, both military and civil. And our citizens are being murdered before our eyes. Often by people who we have given homes to, educated and supported through our welfare system.

Frustration was clearly evident yesterday, and little wonder. I even gave vent to my own anger with a couple of rants on social media. This doesn’t make me racist, it makes me human.

Yesterday I felt not only frustration but hatred, too. But where to direct that hatred?

The common denominator in the significant atrocities committed against this nation since nine-eleven has been that the perpetrators have been Muslim. I think I may be excused, therefore, for directing my own hatred toward Muslims in general.

Need for perspective

But I don’t like to hate. It saddens me and weakens my spirit. If I was to overcome this negative approach it was vital that I quickly view things in a different light.

It may be a simplistic and naive approach, but I often look to history to provide me with a sense of perspective on issues occurring today. If used wisely, history can be a great teacher. Allow me then to go back to 1972.

In the early to mid 70s I was a student at senior school here in north Lincolnshire. Unlike many areas of the country, we had a very small Muslim community. In fact, pre-1972 I don’t recall any being in my home town, though there may have been some. But you get my point.

That changed to some degree in 1972 when my home town received several families expelled from Uganda by tyrannical dictator, Idi Amin. Like another, more well known dictator before him, he perversely viewed the enterprising successes of one race — in this case the Ugandan Asians — as the reason for others’ failure. Following a period of victimisation and abuse he expelled them. Some of these were UK citizens and therefore came to Britain.

A warm welcome

The families that arrived in my home town quickly integrated into the community and I was soon able to call them ‘friends’ as they merged seamlessly into our school. One young lad excelled at sports yet retained a modesty and honesty that did him credit. He always greeted people with a smile and possessed a sunny disposition. This is despite his experiences while living in Kampala.

At a time when my own limited experience of horror was the weekly black and white ‘B’-movies aired on a Friday night, this plucky youth recounted one of his experiences to fellow students by reading an extract from his history essay to the whole class.

In it he described the brutality of Idi Amin’s thugs on the streets of Kampala, an event during which he saw one man have his penis severed and thrust into his mouth. We were stunned. That this unassuming youth had borne witness to such atrocity was beyond our imagining.

In the land of his birth, he and his people were being terrorised by others who viewed them as an alien, abhorrent race.

A couple of years later, the boy’s sister joined me at the company where I then worked. Like him, she had a lovely nature and brought joy to the office. She possessed such grace and poise that was so clearly evident it generated complimentary comment from many who saw her.

Ugandan Asians arrive in Britain – victims of terrorism

Maligned memories, and a ray of hope

These, too, were Muslims who yesterday I found myself regarding generally in an un-Christian manner. This tarnishing of their memory by today’s terrorists angered me even more. So much so that, having viewed the mass of negativity on social media, I felt moved to comment in response to the following post:

In my reply, I stated:

The Muslims I have known have been genuine, kind and loving people. Sadly, I now find I view all with suspicion. A tragedy in itself.

What followed were many responses from Muslims who, at the close of a very dark day, gave me a glimmer of hope for the future. In particular, I’d like to thank Aleesha who said:

… and when reminded that the terrorists shouted ‘this is for Allah’ replied:

No more representative than the man who shouted “Britain first!” as he viciously stabbed and shot Jo Cox.

Close the divide

Yes, I agree that steps must be taken to bring about an end to these wanton acts of medieval savagery on our streets. In doing so, I hope that the nation’s many Muslims who share our outrage and our fears come together in vigorous support of our government, whoever that may be. Only this way will the widening gulf between neighbouring people be bridged and finally drawn together.

Footnote

I realise my small home town was only a miniature representation of Muslims and non-Muslims sharing the same community — but there were no enclaves, no isolated neighbourhoods separated by racial differences. We shared the same streets, school, interests and joys. Were were one community. It would be encouraging to think that, at some point in the future, this tiny model could be replicated throughout the country.

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