Random Thoughts Series: “It’s October and That’s How I Know”

I don’t know whether it is the dull weather lately but I have been feeling a bit lazy and gloomy. My daily routine does not allow me the luxury to be lazy. With early long morning commute, I leave my house before the sunrise. Some days I love it because of the beauty represented in the sky and the refreshing early morning air, but most days I just wish I could stay in bed for an extra hour. I would not describe myself as a very active person, while I jug every now and then, practice self-defence weekly, and exercise when I feel like it, I would not run a quarter of a marathon. But once autumn starts, I get less energetic in terms of being outdoor and the idea of a cup of hot chocolate with cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon and a nice book in hand sounds more appealing! 

This year has gone by so fast and here we are three months away from yet another new year. Now, you may be better than me in realising the change of seasons, or maybe the ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte’ almost in every coffee shop has notified you of the beginning of the spooky season!!  

But for me, I realised that every autumn I go on a book shopping spree. Stocking for the upcoming longer nights leaving myself spoilt for choice. With being over excited about my expanding little library I almost never finish reading all the books I have before buying new ones. Not that I mind doing so, but I think that there is something more psychological behind the fact that some of us buy new books before even getting near reading all the books we already have. 

Every time I repeat the same behaviour, I question my relationship with literature almost to the point where I am considering prohibiting myself from buying more books until I am done with the ones I have.  Passing by a bookstore makes my hands itchy wanting to get one more, and I tell myself “just one more”. But why? When I have four unread books sitting on my shelf and realising that only in rare occasions that books get sold out!!!! 

 Few years ago, I tried buying an online copy of any book I fancied, and that didn’t last very long! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the convenience of having one device where I can access any of my chosen books without carrying them around. But I have to admit I love the feeling of a book between my hands, and the sensation of turning each page as I go by is unexplainably a wonderful one especially when reading a novel!   

Books are one of the most beautiful things that we create. Each have a whole world between its covers. The places a book can take us are far more than the destinations any other transport method does. What is even better, is the fact that no passport or boarders exist. Places where reality is a dream and dreams are reality. Where we can travel from one universe to the other freely and with no limits. The ways a book can thrill us are way better than a Halloween night in a spooky graveyard.  

Regardless, I cannot justify the overloading of my library!  Maybe reading all the unread books on my shelf before buying new ones should be on my next New Year resolution (rolling eye!!!) You know what? How about we don’t get on that topic just yet!?   

No One Is Above The Law and Other Lies!

If you have been following up the news lately, then you might have noticed the hypocrisy in the global system we currently live within. And if like me, you might have rolled your eyes over the political series of hypocrisy. 

In a not so surprising move, the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson unlawfully suspended the Parliament, leaving the real possibilities of preventing him from acting unlawfully close to none.  

Similarly, in the US a formal impeachment investigation of the country’s President Donald Trump is being pushed ahead by the Democrats. In a statement, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the Us House of Representatives, said that ‘no one is above the law’.  Although I consider myself as an optimist and as much as I want to believe that this is true, but the harsh reality is that no one is above the law except the powerful.      

The world we live in is pretty much controlled by the political sector which is ultimately controlled by a higher and stronger power, money!!! No existing political system is designed to deliver an absolute justice. No law is effectively protecting the weak and delivering justice. In reality the political world is full of manipulation, secret gains, and materialism.  

Lives does not matter when it comes to political and economic gain, which brings me to the other piece of news; 

A threat of war against Iran for an alleged attack that targeted a major oilfield in Saudi, with a possible US support, the US being on top of Saudi long allies for obvious reasons (not economical AT ALL!!!) 

While on the other hand, Saudi led coalition is still booming Yemen for more than four years leaving the country and its nation in complete despair.  

Now, I know that Saudi does not have the courage to go to war on its own neither without the support of its allies and reliance on arm trades. With Saudi being the second largest arms importer in the world, one can imagine the great economic loss to the arms industry if Saudi’s international humanitarian law violations were taken seriously and LAW was applied. 

Despite all the reports that have been produced over the last four years in relation to human rights violations committed by the Saudi led coalition, no action has been taken. And even after a court order banning the arm trade with Saudi, deals were still made and people got far above the law. The consequences are, you ask? Nothing! Not yet at least.  

We live in a complete delusion that law is above all and no one is above law. We think that peace is maintained but in fact peace is being breached every single time a blind eye is turned over the violations committed globally on a daily basis. 

There is no way that the continues arm trade with one of the biggest human rights violating states is considered a way of maintaining peace, when an entire nation is on the path of being wiped out completely and the innocent is left to suffer. 

The same state is not rolling out a declaration of war over an oilfield strike that produced no casualties or lost in lives. While Saudi is pressuring for political and economic sanctions over Iran, it remains free from being subject to any of the said sanctions even though the account of human rights violations committed by the Saudi regime is much higher than that of Iran (both nationally and on other territories including Yemen). Setting another example where the law does not apply. 

You see, those who do not see this as a clear hypocrisy and manipulation of power are the ones that I feel sorry for. Unfortunately, mankind has not invented reality specs yet.  

Feel free to disagree, but ‘no one above the law’ is a lie! 

Suicide Prevention Day

Life is hard! It’s that simple! It’s that complicated! 

Life is tough and the reality is sometimes it could get unbearable!   

Every time I go through life’s tough and testing times, I always go back to the best moments of my life. The times when I was just a little girl, with little care in the world hand in hand with my grandfather (may God bless his sole) where ever he went. The endless love and kindness he represented is one of the things that give me hope that life is not always tough! That there is kindness in people, and that I don’t have to give up my own kindness to combat whatever life throws at me.  

And I came to believe, that there is a reason for everything. And so, every time I feel that life is beating me down, I rise and search for what I meant to be learning from this bad experience! No matter how hard it is, I keep that knowledge that if I wasn’t strong enough to defeat that hardship, I would not have been put against it!  

Life is full of ups and downs! I lost count of the times I thought I can’t handle life and that it was unfair to be going through that point! But I passed it when I actually thought it was impossible for me to do so.   

You have probably gone through similar emotions, when you thought that life is collapsing around you and you weren’t made strong enough to handle it. You’ve probably been through moments in life where everything but life seemed like a good option to you! Nonetheless, you’ve passed through it! You made it! And believe me if you weren’t strong enough you would not be standing trying to make sense of what is it you are going through! 

We’re all made different, and the way we deal with these emotions vary from one to the other. Look for yours, and try and to find the first step to combat that dark thought! Would crying make it less painful? Then cry! Do you just want someone to listen to you? Then look around you and I am sure you will find at least one person that is more than willing to lend you an ear!    

Remember that there are people in this world that care about you and love you for your good and for your worse. There are those who are around you, and who will give you their time gladly to listen with an open heart, mind and no judgment. Look closely and you will find them! Let them reach you and you to them! Open your heart a little bit at a time, there is no hurry in the world to rush your emotions!  

In fact, we all need to learn how to spot the signs of depression in ourselves and in those around us, our family, friends, colleagues … Lend an ear and some of your time, without judgment and just listen! Because one day you might need the same. 

Sometimes all we need is an open-minded person, a friendly voice, and a heart with no judgment. And these all are easy to be given and could go a long way.   

It is absolutely understandable and NORMAL, to be in a dark place at some point in your life! And you don’t need to search for the light! Oh, no! All you have to do is slightly open those beautiful eyes, and you will see it!  

Life is not always sunshine and rainbows! (I mean, have you seen the weather lately!!) Besides, if it wasn’t cloudy and rainy sometimes, how are we meant to see the rainbows! 

Life is beautiful! When you “Be You To Full”! Life is beautiful with you in it! 

In your own time!     

How Dictatorship Begins!

When I think of the atrocities occurring globally on a daily basis, and how horrifying it is to be witnessing these violations with so little to do! I think, how could that have occurred? How is it that people are willing to turn on each other, kill and torture with such inhumanity?   

Knowing fully, as it is the case with anything in this life, that this is a matter of process and never could be a sudden occurrence! Do you genuinely believe that a person, a dictator, out of the blue would become a leader and have the ability to conquer an entire nation to do as he or she demands?  

It is a simple, yet a very complicated and dangerous formula! Propaganda, greed, fear, justification of that which should never be justified, and silence! 

A dictator is helpless and powerless without those who carry out his/her orders and never question them. And so, they are not only aiders to that oppression but they are (individually) oppressors!  

The prison guard that holds the innocent in because they spoke against the injustice or protested peacefully, is an oppressor. The ones holding their weapons and pointing them towards the innocent, are oppressors! The one carrying the prosecution that is based on the whim of the ruler and only serves the purpose of that ruler, is an oppressor!  

The ones providing or trading arm weapons with an oppressor are oppressors in their own initiative! And equally as guilty (if not more, in my humble opinion.)  

Apply this to every global issue and you will find that the circle, of those guilty of the atrocities we witness today, is huge and includes almost every state leader, government, arms and security company, etc. An almost endless list that make it seem that we are on a ‘no turning back’ point, and make our surrender easier than our resilience! 

Each time we stand silent in the face of injustice, inequality, oppressive behaviour, and inhumanity; not only we allow that dictatorship to be born but we advance it, we grow it a bit by bit further! In a way we become our own oppressors! 

Our daily life might make it hard, difficult, and sometimes impossible for us to focus on other issues that have a greater impact on our future (near or far)! At the end of the day, each one has to find their way of making a living, establishing themselves, having a family… And yes, it is very (very very) hard to focus on all of the global issues we have, global warming and pollution, civil wars, oppression, hunger, inequality etc. But, I believe, that we are brainwashed to think that all of us as individuals can only do little and so the power of our unity collapses and we end up having more issues tomorrow than we had yesterday! Consequently, that believe deepens tomorrow and so on and so forth! 

Dictatorship begins where a nation is fearful AND silent! Without a silent nation a dictator has no chance of existence! As such, for an oppressor to exist there has to be an act of oppression if succeeded a dictatorship not only begins but also thrives! 

So, let us speak up! Let us take actions! Let us stand for what really matters! Our lives, our rights, our environment, and that of the generations to come!  

Most importantly do not be an oppressor! Do not be an aider!  

********AND DO ONT BE YOUR OWN OPPRESSOR!!

Share your thoughts  

Celebrate Freedom, Don’t Oppress It!

It goes without saying, that we live in a much better world now compared to 70 or 80 years ago. We have scientifically more freedom (not ‘rights’, because these are inherited by our nature as human beings), better health care, faster and more reliable communication methods. I do realise that we could argue the opposite, but that is another topic.  

Generally speaking, we are more advantageous in terms of practicing our freedom, or at least we are entitled to by the law, society, and technology advancement.  

The entire calendar year is full of days to celebrate and commemorate significant events. To name a few; the 2nd December, the International Day for Abolition of Slavery; 8th March, International Women’s Day; or for instance, yesterday (19th August), we celebrated the International Humanitarian Day! A day that remarks and “advocates for the safety and security of humanitarian aid workers, and for the survival, well-being and dignity of people affected by crises.”

The reason we have such international days, or national days, is to celebrate human movements in advancing the way we live our lives today. We celebrate the souls that sacrificed themselves for what is ‘right’ for the human race.  

Today women in the UK have the right to vote! Can we imagine the situation today if the Women’s Suffrage movement did not exist, established, or continued to fight for the right for women to vote? 

Would women be given the right to vote if no woman rose and claimed that right?  

Would women in the so-called Saudi be allowed ‘legally’ to drive if women activists such as Loujain al-Hathloul did not speak loudly for that right to be claimed?     

I have always believed that ‘rights’ are taken and never given. You cannot ask for what is yours, but you can always ‘claim’ it, if you dare! 

Now, imagine this! If we took our rights today for granted, if we turned a blind eye on every human rights violation (nationally and internationally) what would happen?  

Turn around you and look at the world today, human rights oppression is expanding again and we are doing little to stop or even speak against. Certain topics became a red line for us to discuss and the common response we see is a head shake in disapproval.  

Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of the above as much as everyone else and when I speak of change, I am starting with myself first. But I only have one request, that you don’t look at yourself as an individual whose actions are less of an impact to the world around you. Do not think you are a small stone that cannot stop the immense waves.     

This is the rhythm of life; it never stays on one way or the other and change happens rapidly leaving us the freedom to choose! The choice whether to be a random object and be washed by the tremendous waves of life, or be a standing mountain together and change the direction of waves to what suits us as a human race in unity. 

Our unity, empowerment to each other, and compassion is the key to an even better world for our next generations.

Celebrate your freedom! Do not oppress it! 

Random Thoughts Series: “Forgiveness!”

A man saw a snake burning to death, so he reached with his hand to help the snake out of the fire. The snake bit the man causing the man to drop the snake which fell right back into the fire. The man then reached with a stick to get the snake out of the fire again and saved its life.  

Someone who was watching that happening questioned the man and said “the snake bit you, and you could’ve just let it burn!” the man then replied “It’s the nature of the snake to bite, but that’s not going to change my nature, which is to help!” 

Many of us and at some point in our lives go through some difficult times, we get hurt or (God forbid) someone else gets hurt by us, our words, or actions.  

The way we deal with these emotions varies from a person to the other. But, do we ever forgive? Do we completely move on? When we leave these situations, do we leave the past completely behind us? Or do the negative emotions come back to haunt us every once in a while? 

It is completely understandable, in my opinion, that sometimes it is hard to completely forgive those who hurt us. And, equally reasonable to have the negative feelings visiting again. At the same time, a negative feeling is a negative feeling, that only impacts the person holding on to it. 

In my belief, we don’t ‘get over’ someone or over the fact that we got hurt. But if we are lucky and strong enough, we adapt to that feeling and learn to channel our energy and emotions to appreciate every good moment in our lives. We learn to trust again, and most importantly to trust in ourselves.    

Life is full of ups and downs, sometimes downs more than ups, but living it trapped in the past and its miserable emotions will only waste the time of our present and delay the brilliant future we meant to have.  

There are no guarantees in life that we shall never get hurt again. We need to accept that risk in everything we take, merely because we have confidence in ourselves that we are capable of dealing with every situation we go through, good or bad, in the best way possible. 

Being hurt should not impact our present life, and if it does then we should learn gradually to release ourselves from that pain. Having said that, we need our time to heal and we can definitely do that while going about our lives and growing.  

As a self-defence mechanism, we might choose to lock our hearts and emotions in a bulletproof box and throw it in the deepest oceans (where probably we are going to hire a mythical beast or two!!) But think of the endless possibilities of happiness that our fate is holding for us.  

Take your time in healing and if you are lucky to have people around you that will be more than willing to lend an ear that listens, a shoulder to cry on, or deep hearted and honest pep talk with no single judgment, then give them the chance to be there for you!  

Life is all about give and take, and endless amazing possibilities that would be of a great shame to miss!  

Search for that positive self within you and you shall see how incredible it is what you could do and achieve if you channel your energy correctly. Love yourself with all your flaws and learn to accept that the past belongs to the past. And all those who hurt you, intentionally or unintentionally, belong there too.  

And just out of curiosity, what mythical beast would you choose??   

War as a Conflict Resolution!

“The War to End all Wars” a term used to describe World War I, in the hope that it will indeed inspire mankind, by observing the scale of atrocities caused during the war, to never use war as a way of resolving any political conflict. (for a greater reflect on this point see this article). 

Was that vision correct? Arguably and evidentially it wasn’t! 

Many wars did follow; starting by the WWII and until our present time, with more than 10 ongoing armed conflicts and civil wars. To name a few; the war in Afghanistan, war in Yemen, war in Syria, the conflict in Myanmar, conflict in Nigeria, conflict in the occupied Palestine, and the list goes on. 

Some of these wars, and armed conflicts, have been given more highlight and attention globally. This goes back to the fact that global media focuses, understandably and so ununderstandably at the same time, on the areas where the conflict will more likely have an impact on the main global powers. 

Going back to my main question here; is war the right way to end any of these conflicts? Can violence be demolished by violence? Have we not learned anything from the atrocities of the two world wars, the wars before that and the wars that followed?  

Looking at the advancement of military weapons (chemical, biological, atomic, … etc) will only show us that mankind does not intend to end war, instead a speedily progressive industry was created for war.  

To be realistic, I do not believe that diplomatic negotiations will always work their magic. I believe, bitterly, that both soft powers and hard powers are in need to solve armed conflicts and based on the type of conflict and the gravity of human loses. (for more on soft and hard powers see here.) 

 But who gets to determine when a military intervention is acceptable? And at what point?  

International law provides a layout of these conditions;  

 Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter prohibits the use of force “against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” and that any dispute between any of the states to be resolved in a peaceful manner, Article 2 (3). In addition, states should respect other states’ decisions that affect their internal affairs, Article 2(7).  

The UN Charter gives two scenarios where the rule of non-intervention does not apply; in case of self-defence or where the international peace and security needs to be restored, (Articles 51 and 42 respectively). 

This remains ambiguous as to what is considered a breach of ‘international peace and security’. Does the targeting of innocent civilians in a given state shakes that international peace? Or would the mass-killing of a protected group, that is arguably classified as a genocide under international law (in particular Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide), by their own government be considered an internal affair? What is ‘international peace and security’ and where do these borders lay?  

In my opinion, this is determined on the ‘global’ interest that unfortunately have neglected the interest of the lost lives of innocent civilians. The so-called international peace and security is not threatened if the atrocities are contained within a given area and where arm sales are making the stokes’ market alive!  

In an ideal world, war would never exist in the first place to be solved by another war. But in our world, wars do exist and they will remain because of our human hunger to power in its all kinds and types (economical, political, religious etc). But will war always be the way to end a war?

Where all I can see is further advancement of arm weapon technology and competition over arm deals, the true success of war to end war remains a mystery to me! 

*Tell me your thoughts on this. Is war and armed intervention an effective way to end armed conflict and wars? *  

The Fault in Our Human Rights

How many times have you thought about your human rights? Or questioned whether they have been, or are, violated?  

How many times did you wake up thinking about the day ahead fearing that you will be subjected to an arbitrary arrest because of your last night’s political discussion you had with one of your colleagues at work; or when you foolishly complained about your president’s decision of raising the income taxes imposed only on you and those who belong to the working class?  

Chances are, if you were in a state governed by the rule of law, or so it’s called, you have no such fear whatsoever!

On the other hand, if you were a citizen of the same democratic state, how many times have you thought of your right? Let’s say, your right to political participation (ie. Voting right or political freedom)?  

The other day, I had a conversation with a stranger on the train (British citizen in her mid 20’s) and our conversation took a turn after we spoke about life (nothing political, I won’t risk an arbitrary arrest!!).

I told her about my studies etc and how I want to pursue a career in human rights? Her response was “what is that? You mean human resources?” Mind you, I was shocked to a degree I stopped for a minute to recap.  

Maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked because I was familiar with the fact that ‘human rights’ is a complex term, though from the surface it seems the opposite.

But it is not easy! Human rights as a term never was and never will be easy or simple. You need to take one look at your current news feed and you will see what I mean by saying that.

This is because people die on a daily basis fighting for their human rights and dignity. They are willing to leave their homes, risk their lives and protest to claim their human rights. So, it could never be an easy term and maybe we should never treat it as one. 

 So, when we reach the point of taking the protection of our human rights for granted, then we need to be alert. When such a term becomes a foreign term to some of us, like my lovely friend on the train, then it is time we should start to worry as to where we are heading as a global society.   

Take for instance the percentage of voter turnout in two European states; in the UK’s 2017 general elections the turnout percentage was %68.7. And it has not gone above %83.9 since the 1950’s election.  

Similarly, in the 2017 French presidential elections %67.9 was the turnout percentage which was pronounced to be the “worst turnout in modern history.   

The highest voter turnout in our modern history is %87.2, in Belgium’s 2014 elections.    

Now, you might think that remains a good percentage, but the deep question here is what is the reason behind our human rights not to be used to their full potential?  

The point I am trying to make is, that it seems that once a society had successfully obtained the democratic status thereafter comes the tendency for us taking them for granted. I am not being an idealistic here or trying to build a Platonic World of sort (although it might not be a bad idea to do so), but it is such a shame to see one of the crucial human rights left unused by some, and this is a mere example! Because it is this point in time where political corruption increases, and consequently the threat to our human rights.   

So tomorrow when you wake up ask yourself “which of my human rights will be violated today?” just in case! 

*What are your thoughts? Looking forward to reading your comments*

Intro

Hello and welcome to my blog! 

In this blog I aim to reflect on current human rights issues (spoiled for choice? I know!!) I do not intend to make matters complicated more than they are, rather I like to reflect in simplicity. Yet, I won’t promise that it will always be the case.

Human Rights is a very crucial topic to our day-to-day life, yet you will be surprised how many of us out there know little about them. In some (so-called) democratic states, they are taken for granted and not used to their full potential. In other parts of the world they remain a dream, a fantasy, a cause that people fight for (come on you don’t need me to tell you about this, Right?). 

My passion for the human rights field in general, perhaps, comes from my own background as a Middle Eastern female that had seen some of the awful consequences of speaking one’s mind outload in one of the most undemocratic states on our planet, Saudi Arabia. (I will talk about this in a feature post. I promise!!)  

After long contemplation, I thought “why not share my passion for this topic with likeminded people and expand the discussion as much as possible?” And so here we are! 

In this blog I will also write on our daily social life and some of my random thoughts that I hope you find interesting. I aim to post frequently on a week to week basis, so keep an eye and subscribe if you wish to be updated. 

So, go on have a read and share your thoughts. Any constructive criticism is always welcome! 

Many thanks for your time, 

Shrooq