GD-Zone Archives Logo

GD-Zone Archives Logo
Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 - Peace between Israel and Palestine?

At the time of writing, Israel and Palestine are still in a state of war. This is now the fifth day of fighting. The fighting in the Gaza strip is a manifestation of a conflict that started off since the state of Israel was founded in 1948. Unfortunately, no peace agreement has lasted for long in the conflict between the leaders of Israel and Palestine. But what is at the root of this conflict?

Many explanations for this strong enmity that apparently exists between Israel and Palestine can be proposed. It could be due to the fact that the Israel achieved statehood at the expense of resident Palestinians then living in the area who lost claims to their homeland and who were excluded from certain regions by those supporting claims to the idea of a Jewish state (see this link for a complete history). But, in whatever way you account for it, the fact remains that people have died and are still dying right to this day.

I believe that 2009 should not be simply about making resolutions. Can Israel and Palestine resolve their differences and make peace? Possibly. But before that happens, both parties need to commit to a state of peace and in being ready to agree on a just compromise that recognizes the mistakes of the past. Naturally, the fact Hamas remains adamant on using force adds further challenges to finding a solution. On the other hand, it is undeniable that a channel of communication should be opened up between Israel and Palestine if anyone wants the conflict resolved.

Of course, we cannot pretend that the past hasn’t happened. But perhaps it is proper to mend this protracted conflict before more people die. We cannot change the history of Israel and Palestine, but we can change the future we leave the next generations of Israeli and Palestinian children. For, at present, more and more children in these areas are only learning to hate each other further - and even dying for reasons that are beyond them - and beyond us all. Otherwise, a legacy of bloodshed and divisions between brothers, sisters, families will persist.

I wish that peace will be achieved and sustained in the Middle East by 2009. However, before that can happen, real work and sacrifice must occur from both sides and channels of communication are truly opened for possible reconciliation. It’s too easy to say that both parties should bury the hatchet - yet the reality is that war and conflict can only lead to further resentment and destruction. It will take strong will to turn the clock back. Yet, the effort must be made – for the sake of both Israeli and Palestinian people. For the sake of world peace.

Update: Help by signing this AVAAZ petition...

Wishing you all a happy 2009 full of peace and prosperity!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A True Meaning of Christmas

Today, getting out of bed was quite a struggle with the cold weather and my sore throat which is getting worse. Before Christmas Eve, I wanted to write a few lines on the true meaning of Christmas but as I read over the net for inspiration, I didn't seem to get any.

Honestly, I don't find this season to be that joyous any more. As a child, I might have looked forward to a present or two, but now it's getting hard to ignore that Christmas has lost its significance and it can revive a few painful memories. Like the one time I realized that the charity telethons that aired during this time considered people (or children) like me who had physical impairments as 'less fortunate' people in need of 'charity'. It was a blow to a part of me that still revolts on hearing those words uttered over and over again.

Christmas of 2003 was particularly full of this stuff - especially if you switched on local TV. Even if by then I should have grown in my resilience, such messages of being charitable to disabled people made me feel small and inferior. And it still does drive me nuts.

So I know, to a certain extent, what it feels like to be at the 'receiving end' of these telethons. At least, I know that being talked down in that way does not exactly help build a positive self-image.

Apart from that, I wonder why year after year, people seem to gain a sense of satisfaction with giving money to what they consider 'less fortunate' people without even bothering to ask themselves - why is their a need to collect money? Oftentimes, even the most poor among us are not poor out of irresponsibility or simple misfortune, but due to a society that excludes them (or us) from accessing equal opportunities, better deals in education and generally, leaving society unchanged. And such a status quo also leaves poverty and injustice unchanged.

This is a sad story, but it's true. It doesn't matter if you have all the good intentions in the world. If society or the world fails to give you an opportunity, you're screwed! I don't want to end this post on a negative note. Even if I know that after Christmas and New Year are over, we'll return to reading about war and poverty in the world. Or doing things as we used to do.

On the other hand, a part of me still hopes that there'll be a real change in my life and in that of others. Even a little transformation that helps us realize that we can make a difference not just by using words to pay lip-service to the Christmas spirit but becoming truly involved in creating a better world where everyone - in spite of our differences - truly has a place to shine.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rewriting the past ...

When I was a young child with an interest in astronomy, I was fascinated by the facts I learned about the universe ranging from the composition of the planets of our solar system, the nature of stars and the idea of a big bang. However, one of the most intriguing fact I learned was that since it takes millions of years for light to reach us from stars and galaxies far away, the night sky we see today is made up of stars and galaxies that might have disappeared or changed. Or exploded!

The universe as we see it now is not as it is now. Think about it. But why am I bringing this up now? Perhaps it’s because I do feel like that boy who would peer from his telescope at night in the hope of getting some answers. Or may be it’s the realisation that I remain alone in this journey of life. Not that it’s really sad but rather it’s like you know that, in truth, nobody knows you and if you’re not careful, you might forget where you came from.

In the process, you stumble onwards risking losing direction or making the same mistakes. This post might sound obscure and it is in many ways. However, at its core, it is about a hidden longing within. A desire to understand the past, or to reach out to someone else – even for a moment. For in contemplating the cosmic past, my humanity’s past and my past life, I perceive a continuity of sorts. The passage of matter into life, of life into consciousness. And to self-awareness. Finally, to culminate in the sharing of each other in our communities and in our societies.

We might wish to change our past. But the fact remains the past makes us who we are today. There are things I would have liked to have done differently. Stars, which turned into black holes. And the future is not always in our control. Yet, one fact is sure – we cannot live through this life alone. At least, that’s how I feel about it..

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reflections on Human Rights Day

I’ve had a busy week and today we marked the end of disability week by celebrating International Human Rights Day, which falls on the 10th December. Indeed, this day becomes more significant since we now have a brand new UN Convention protecting our rights as disabled people. Every year, we hold a parliamentary session where disabled people and parents are given the chance to speak to politicians. This event is also broadcast live on the local national TV channel (TVM).

Yes, there’s a lot to celebrate. Much has changed since we were locked in institutions, or undignified and devalued as humans – which comprised having our bodies subject to medical scrutiny and our souls judged by dubious theological doctrines. We are not products of sin, or else, defective examples of humanity... Not having either a sex or an individual identity. Indeed, we have come a long way…

or have we?

Yes and no. My quality of life, as a disabled person, is often affected by the decisions my country’s government takes. Fortunately, Malta is in the process of ratifying the UN Convention rights of Disabled People But, of course, presently, I still have to fight to secure my right to be part of this society. And it’s sometimes exhausting. Access to Transport, information and services remain problems for me as a visually impaired wheelchair user. And it doesn’t stop there.

I find it disturbing that we still hear politicians speaking of ‘economic hardships’ when we demand our rights to be respected. And the ‘economic burden’ we seem to pose helps justify our elimination. Do pre-natal screening and abortion ring a bell? Or euthanasia? And when you’re already been subject to countless ‘professionals’ putting you down because of your body, clerics speaking of you in the third person, and economists calculating how much you will cost the state. Then you wonder… Is it worth living?

The answer remains yes. Yet, apart from the injustices perpetrated in the minority world (or developed countries), which have included institutionalisation (such as Czech republic), faced sterilisation (such as Australia, US and others) the greatest injustices prevail in the majority world. The issue is not just about disabled people but it affects all people who have to face endless wars, famine and poverty. Not to mention deal with the effects of more potent diseases. And we give? Very little aid and no solutions to rectify our historical injustices - the effects of a minority world that has exploited foreign natural resources, instrumetaised country’s geographical positions and are contributing to massive pollution and waste.

To top it all, we also call people living in the majority world,’less fortunate’ – as if luck had everything to do with their situation. I remember being referred to as ‘less fortunate’ myself because of my impairment but then I realised that we as individuals and as a society often create disability, as we create the realities of poverty and ignore injustice. Admittedly, I have been guilty of trampling over the rights of others myself (knowingly or unintentionally) but the fact remains that if I do not respect the rights of others, I cannot expect others to respect mine.