Sunday, 16 August 2009

201 and counting

Having just heard the Prime Minister claim to speak for all with regard to our being in Afghanistan I can't help but wonder how true it is as he certainly doesn't seem to speak for me. As we know from our own life experience death is a long-term painful loss and that there are increasing large numbers of seriously wounded - and that is simply from the reports of what 'our boys' (which is inclusive of women as well from what I have read) are suffering but what about the sufferings of the people of Afghanistan and related regions in Pakistan? Are we not giving some a reason for war rather than taking away a potential source of conflict?
Increasingly failure to support our actions is tied with accusations of lack of patriotism but what I fail to see is the toleration of dissent which is the sign of a democracy of the type we claim to have and wish to install in Afghanistan. Is patriotism truly the 'last resort of the scoundrel) to quote Dr Johnson or is it as, Ambrose Bierce wrote in 'The Devil's Dictionary','In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first.'?
Afghanistan is not purely a secular issue. It is not just a matter of politics - which are confused to say the least - though it no doubt will have political weight in any forthcoming General Election. In the midst of the suffering there is a spiritual aspect but are we meeting it or even respecting it? Matthew 25:35 - 40 to me seems to find a form of reflection here if we go beyond the literal meaning of the words to the underlying sentiment.
There appear to be no immediate or apparent ways at finding a beginning to its end. When senior military figures talk about being involved for at least 40 years what prospects does it hold for the young on both sides? Are there implications regarding potential conscription if the death count is given daily? What about the wounded who are demanding being treated in special military hospitals rather than with the 'non-understand' general public with whom they are having to share space in NHS institutions? 40 years plus sounds almost medieval/early modern in these terms.
Already, I feel, there is the potential for inter-communal conflict within the UK but how do we meet it? Where do we as Friends stand in this? What can we do? What should we do? I ask because I feel that I get no clear sense of vision and purpose relating to this matter.
How can we proceed in such matters if we claim that there is that of god in all or is god selective in his causes as some seem to think?
In confusion and waiting for the counting to stop

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