A Christmas Message.....
By now, I hope those who read my posts know that I’m not given to emotional rhetoric or hectoring polemic. So while the Festive Season is certainly a time of celebration, it’s also a time for reflection.
A year ago, the Taliban murdered 150 schoolchildren in Peshawar Province in Pakistan. Their crime was to nothing more than attend school.
In among the atrocities, wars, shootings, and raft of human tragedies, it’s easy to become somewhat immune to the horror.
But the obscenity in Peshawar deserves more attention.
As a baby-boomer brought up in post-war Britain, I was imbued with the idea that education was the pathway out of poverty, oppression, and injustice.
My generation was provided with access to free education, an affordable route through tertiary education, and a firm conviction that learning was fundamental to progress and prosperity.
So the murder of these kids in Pakistan for seeking to be educated offends the basic fabric of my belief system.
To be honest, I find I quietly offensive when anyone tries to impose their religious practices on me by asking me to pray before meetings, dinners, or other such formal occasions.
I have no objection whatsoever to anyone following any religious code or belief they may choose - only don’t expect me to follow suit.
That the so-called religious people in the Taliban believe they have a right to prevent children from being educated by taking away their lives is an obscenity beyond description.
And please don’t tell me to pray for these kids, as the gunmen in Peshawar were praying as they shot them all down in cold blood while exhorting the name of their deity.
In truth, the Taliban are no more representative of their particular creed than the Ku Klux Klan is of Christianity, and all those misguided, ill-informed souls who turn their ire on all Muslims (or all Christians, for that matter) are on the way to creating an authoritarian state.
The Taliban and their ilk fear education, because uneducated people are easier to control, direct, and oppress.
While we now have little choice but to confront this evil in the short term, the long-term solution is to educate and inform. The potency of education has challenged and defeated tyrants and oppressors throughout history, and a poignant and powerful quote from Malala Yousafzai, the young girl shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating widespread education for women in Pakistan is particularly appropriate -
“I don’t want revenge on the Taliban, I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban”.
The Taliban and all other religious bigots and extremists should tremble at the power of this young girl’s message. The zealots can kill people, maim the innocent, destroy buildings, create chaos – but they cannot hold back the inevitable change that education and learning bring to a society.
To quote further from the wise words of Malala -
“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world”
Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season with your loved ones and may 2016 bring all the changes to your world that you wish for.