Children of Hope
Having walked through the Swat Valley, Pakistan in 1994, before the ‘troubles’, and viewed scenery that matches the magnificence of Yosemite in scale and grandeur, and experienced the wonderful hospitality of the people of that region, it was shocking to hear of the shooting of Malala Yousufzai in Mingora recently.
For any one to harm another human being is abhorrent. For someone to do so in the name of ‘religion’ and against a child is beyond comprehension.
Unfortunately, this approach of ‘attacking’ others that don’t hold the same views or beliefs is the same the world over. Some use weapons and are physical. Others use words to excoriate their opponents. Politicians 99% of the time set a very poor example. Religious leaders often amplify their ‘truth’ at the expense of others views, with the weak minded following like sheep and interpreting the ‘message’ of their God or God’s as we are right and must ‘defend’ any views against. And this can be found the world over – most political parties, most religious leaders. What appears to matter most is not what is right or wrong, or what the ‘truth’ is – but maintaining a power over others.
Whether by physical, verbal of psychological means none of it benefits humanity.
But there are pockets of resistance to this negativity. I witnessed one such event recently in Trombay, Mumbai. The occasion was an Open Football Tournament. ‘Football? Isn’t that a game about winning and losing?’ Yes, but also appreciating the moment of physical exhilaration and fun – whether winning or losing. In this event there were winners everywhere.
What made this event remarkable was how the programme, established by Magic Bus to encourage young people, male and female, to learn and become mentors to other peers in their communities, had influenced others. Adults, Mothers and Fathers. Muslim, Hindi, Christian, and more.
Malala attracted adults who believed she threatened their views. She has paid a severe price for voicing her opinions and ideas – which put simply are asking for the right of girls and young women everywhere to education and a life of self determination.
The Trombay community showed me the other response. Adults listening to, and learning from, children. oo parents and other adults being educated by their children. Women playing football. Mixed faith and political views represented on all football teams. Community engagement across all divides.
The unifying signal was how everyone was smiling. Children showing the way.
All views in this article are purely my own and not representative of any other individual, group or organisation.