Thursday, 11 November 2010

We do remember. But do we know?

One of the first things I ever wrote about on this blog, in November 2008, was a parade I saw on armistice day at Shepherd's Bush Green. My main emotions at the time were both respect for those they were honouring but also sadness at the sight of so many young cadets proudly marching along in their uniforms. They didn't have a clue what conflict was like or about and yet they were there ready to become the next generation to take part in it.

Which all sounds like the sort of prissy melodrmatic drivel that drives me nuts when I read it in some comment piece, but some of it at least is formed by the work I've been doing since 2008 myself which involves regularly travelling to today's conflict areas that you rarely hear about on the news but usually have far higher levels of death and destruction than the ones you do hear about. The people of Rwanda and Congo in central Africa, Liberia in West Africa and lately where I've been in the Southern Philippines have suffered some of the longest running conflicts in the world. In Congo's case deaths are in the millions and in Rwanda's involved wholesale genocide. And let's not forget the plight of women and girls who may not number in the battlefield casualties but who are abused in ways that are in some cases too horrendous to comprehend.

Which brings me to the point. As we remember those who have died in order for me to write what I write and fear no knock at the door as a result, or for you to protest about whatever you want to protest about or just say what you want to say - let's also spare a thought for those civilians who have, and do and will continue to suffer as a result of war. Some of which we turn a very blind eye to indeed.

I hope the parade at Shepherd's Bush Green goes well this year, as I'm sure it will. I hope those kids that will be there as cadets never actually know what conflict involves. But I also hope there is some recognition of the wider costs of war. Here's some women from a conflict you may never heard of explaining what it was like for them. You may be surprised by some of what they say.

It's a privilege to meet and work with people like this for a job, and I don't usually refer to it that much on here except to explain why I may have missed stories, but on this occasion I make an exception. The day somehow seems right.

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