This has been a very sad few days for those of us who as pacifists want to find better ways to reach a solution to the troubles in the Middle East. I was attending a Church carol concert this afternoon, with the images in the church of the Middle East at the time of Jesus, and all the messages of Hope, Love and Peace that this time of year brings. In my head were the thoughts that the vote in Parliament last night carried with it on a "Very dark night in Parliament. [I] Will never forget the noise of some Labour and Tory cheering together at the idea of bombs falling." - as described by the youngest member of Parliament, the SNP Mhairi Black.
Listening to news reports and the comments of others on the 'Labour Party Split' supposedly engendered by the vote, I do wonder about some of the prognostications and conclusions. The following was put on a FaceBook page to which I belong which discusses current affairs and I thought it so succinct that I begged permission to put it here:
"The government won the bomb Syria vote by a lot more than 66 votes. So ultimately the Labour 'free vote' did not lead to war. What it did do is let everyone know where our [individual] MP[s] stood on the issue. Useful to know at the very least. Also when Blair went to war in Iraq 139 Labour MP's rebelled and voted against and Robin Cook resigned. 66 pro-war rebels is nothing compared to that."
So in the middle of the tragedy of war being declared, political gamesmanship is also being played out over whether or not the leader of one party is 'suitable' and whether X or Y will be the next leader. And the number crunching begins when in fact it is more important to look at the numbers of innocent people who may be caught in collateral damage from whatever side should be considered. And discussions should be ongoing in all political parties to find a better solution, not who will be more popular with the voters and who looks better on the TV and vox pop by the tv interviewers should be about the death and destruction which our representatives have just voted for not whether or not one man is popular with all those in the parliamentary party he leads. He is popular enough with the members of his party as a whole to have had an overwhelming vote to make him leader less than three months ago, and since all those who voted him - like me! - knew his views on military action once can be sure that they were in our minds when we voted. We knew the context. Read on.
Context is everything when quoting political speeches etc. Journalists know this. So always check the context when looking at a quote - the context of the time and place where the quote is made; the context of the speaker and the audience; and the context of those doing the quoting and where that quote is making its appearance. History is another important contextual fact. Looking at the actions of the British Parliament today in the light of the historical context of the last 2,000+ years gives one plenty of pause for thought.
Remembering the context that I am a pacifist in a - what I feel -is a more violent society, I expect some of you to dismiss my views. That is your right. But you will still allow me to believe I am right, I am sure. I hope and pray that the better way will be found and followed.
Anyone interested in my views may like to read more at: http://http://www.stopwar.org.uk//