My Problem With World Peace Day
Photo to the left shows me with my beloved, late dad.
Today, Sunday September 21, 2014 is World Peace Day.
If my beloved dad were alive today, out would have come his cranky Smith Corona typewriter. The neatly folded creased carbon paper and the emission of furious jabbing of the keys, which would wobble his NHS glasses at the end of his nose.
Off my dad would go, ranting and raging under his breath as he squinted and scowled his way into writing and demanding an end to the war in the Middle East. This was London. And it was not a few years back. No. It was the 1980s. His letter would have been aimed at his arch political nemesis, Mrs Thatcher over the Iran-Iraq war. Peace eh? What's the odds?
Back to WPD. Not to be confused with WMD (Weapons of mass destruction) or Tony Blair.
WPD. World. Peace. Day.
Indeed. A noble cause. Where UN is helping and urging us mere mortals, too busy scrabbling for a living while perhaps fending off debt collectors (ok, take it as read I am referring to my own current awful situ with mean, cruel Telefonica/02 - another story another day).
WPD is a day where we take the time to step off our hamster wheel - just to breathe and 'feeeel' peace. To pause. To ponder how the world might be if we all just lay down arms, be at peace and work to stop suffering, war, rage, hatred and bigotry. Yeah man.
On days like this, I wake up. Stare ahead and think, what has changed? Is it better? Is it? Is the world at all calmer? No it bloody is not. It seems more crueller, nastier and crazier. Or is that because of social media - being the mirror that shovels it all into my home, gadget, inbox, tv?
But wait. Good news. Apparently the world today IS a lot calmer and less violent. So perhaps my perspective of lack of peace and support for WPD is a bit skewed? Don't believe me?
"The rate of genocide deaths per world population was 1,400 times higher in 1942 than in 2008."
"There were fewer than 20 democracies in 1946. Now there are close to 100. Meanwhile, the number of authoritarian countries has dropped from a high of almost 90 in 1976 to about 25 now."
This bunch of lovely news is thanks to some boffins who wrote a book about how in 21st century we DO have less war, not MORE. Read the full Huff Post here.
So why bother? With WPD? Because I say we ought. Besides, I always wanted a day where I need to explain why I wanted to calmly and peacefully smile serenely, sing some songs, stick flowers in my hair and run around in a floating dress singing: 'I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing', just to ask that age old question:
Blimey, what can I do United Nations?
So nonetheless, (despite no said flowers, dress or song or voice) today, is a day I am going to try for MORE peace.
But (insert record scratch sound effect here), it was always going to be hard work. As today is also the day when Kim Kardashian & Rihanna's nude photos have been leaked onto the internet. And so entire Twitterdom is agog.
As is the hashtag: #WeAreAllWaitingLiam. A reference to British Boy Band One Direction. So as these two erstwhile interest points have shot to the top of folks minds, and possibly news headlines, I guess there is not much room for poor old World Peace Day. How do I know?
Here is the evidence when I googled for news earlier about world peace day today:
Now comes to my little tale. My contribution to get off my backside and do something to encourage the world to do something nice - aka peace. All with one bracelet. Pah! Yes, really. Yet I screwed up. Arghhh.
By gad, it has been a painful and scary few years which I have encountered since I first started doing Lovedesh and Amcariza Foundation as it is just me. And hence, a long, winding, twist as I went in search of my late father. As I did, I discovered more about Islam, Bangladesh and myself. And more about the secret and hidden stuff that is actually blocking peace and goodwill to all men.
So back to how did I screw up? It is all really so upsetting as I was planning to release my campaign film for this bracelet today. Sniff sniff. The film was even due to have been released over summer - but again..shoe...string...lack of money, being clueless, you get the drift. So when I heard about WPD, I thought - hurrah - at last a chance to release the film on a cool day.
I had made my film on a whim and a crazy shoestring budget, shot on location in London, Oxfordshire UK & Bangladesh. The films aim is to present a new creative, fun idea where it asks us all ' hey you, yeah you, fancy travelling the 'Third World'? If so, let's all pick a list from one of the many impoverished nations and war-torn regions? '. Yes you heard me the first time.
Being a start up and having a budget that is skinnier than a shoestring (read zero!) has meant much has gone wrong. Heart palpitations run amok with many strands of hair falling or flailing about from and about my head as we speak. Why? It is still not finished as one nightmare after the other befalls my entire editing process. And given I am a novice when it comes to making films, the chance that I would get this delivered today, was always going to be rare. I mean, what was I thinking eh? But at least I am trying.
So coming soon... ta- dah - here it is. The film that is. (If it is not uploaded yet, it will soon appear in the next few days (fingers crossed)!
Called #LTTTW (Let's Travel The 'Third World'), an idea I thought of to get the rest of the world actively travelling the 'third world.' Or if you cannot head out there, at least experience one of the most poorest or war-torn nations in a more positive way.
Anyhow the point I wanted to make is this. And I do feel I can comment now as I have gotten off my backside to do something about bringing about more 'peace'. That i do love these WPD and other days but often question the lack of real, actionable gestures.
Nobody got what they wanted without burning a little. Without dying a little. Yeah man. You see agents of peace have also always been the agents of change. Think Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela even St Joan of Arc.
The problem I have, (and I have always have as a little girl) is I dislike hearing white noise. As a young teenage girl, I sure loved poetry, would watch people come to read out 'right on' reactionary poems etc. But inside wonder - where is the real action? As it was often always done in my schools by those who often have never had their peace threatened, who look from afar - to ask for a better life on behalf of those who are well and truly screwed over. So the talking. The yada yada blabber. The debating but never any real action plans and add to that posturing - often made me wrinkle my nose.
So I hope that explains why I have a slight problem with such a noble yet ultimately lost cause. Bless 'em. They do need a radical overhaul. Am thinking that the novel idea of <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-29303379" target="_hplink">choirs singing for peace</a> ain't gonna do it - or perhaps they would if they sung about peace and naked celebrities eh? Now that would get talked about.
So while World Peace Day is a great idea and I would not dream of taking away from it in any other way, goodness, maybe a simple suggestion is this: we all find new ways to add to it? What do I mean? To show support. But at the same time to make promises and deliver. Ones that require action, change, debate and results. Yes. More pathways to results.
I can hear my errant Bowie head even now screaming: "Ch-ch-cha-cha-a-a-a-a-nges'. But as I have no film to show you (yet) and unless you are reading this post many months down the line, here is my new idea for WPD. An alternative World Peace Day list on 21 September 2014 of the stuff I want to see changed. Which I plan to track.
A list which I have managed to cobble together thanks to a very skewed upbringing in a London British Muslim family. One which having spat me out into the world, I now, find I, as a lone mother am walking the conveyor belt of a pathway that is so freaking crazy, unbelievable, bonkers, fun but one which, might not only save me, my family but could also have a go at improving the outcome for the plight of the forgotten and of the most misunderstood issues.
My Wishes On World Peace Day 2014 - by Yasmin C
* Stability, peace and prosperity for innocents across the Middle East: Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Palestine.
* To hear that the world has helped to stop the heinous kidnapping and murders of innocent journalists and aid workers. Every time I read about Alan Henning, the aid worker captured by ISIS/IS whatever they are called, I want to weep.
* To stop the rest of the world stigmatising 'Third World' and war-torn nations.
* To celebrates voices, faces and skills of the artisan and everyday folks from 'Third World.'
* To start a new debate about Islam which recognises its positions as a great law-maker and protector of female right. Heck, to peacefully show how just and feminist Islam was and is at its core. Don't believe me - then follow me to read the stuff I will soon share.
* To educate the world about Islamic inheritance rights that has been enshrined for women since 6th century and to discourage exclusion and shunning of women who seek to assert their financial rights.
* To start talking about real empowerment and education of communities within the Islamic world to help protect, value and appreciate Muslim women and their finances, the way the Quran insists upon.
* To witness more Bangladeshi girls in my community get married sincerely - not because they need to be 'handed over' but because they are valued; and are not chattel.
* To stop brands, politicians and companies who contribute to 'Broken' and 'Rip-Off' Britain. Name and shame and to tell them: 'Hey you - it is unacceptable'
* For those companies, brands and personalities - especially those paid to do so - to stop the fake posturing of pretending to do good, just to maximise their media profile.
* To see charities run by ordinary volunteers get more support versus the big charities that are in fact social enterprises who get paid to do the jobs they do.
* For society to equalise emotional and psychological abuse with physical abuse - (entire UK system is in such a mess).
* To the embittered and estranged Bangladeshi community, who continue to block, ostracise, shun and restrict me from delivering my late father's dream for philanthropy and poverty. Please stop it?
* Finally to get my wider family and community to halt the cruel, backward and deeply institutionalised cultural violence with which they condemn and disempower women. Wake up folks - you lot are so uncool when you do this.
Pretty tall list. Why you ask? I say why not.
As I cannot wait to start writing, talking and debating stuff I have stumbled across. Also for everyone to know that this list emerged after moments of sheer hell and painful observations over the past few years as a social entrepreneur and a woman brought up in a British Bangladeshi community. And how today, I, as the daughter of my little old dad, the late Al-Haj Abdul Muquith Choudhury, wish to stand the way my father did (sans Smith Corona), with other ordinary folks in peacefully activating change.
So if today is a marker of time, let's see if, in one year's time, I did help effect any change.
Will check back in on this WPD post in 2015. Now that's at least a step forward in the action for peace, surely?
(PS. RIP, Love you Dad.)