Originally today’s post was going to be a photograph. Something simple. Perhaps unintentionally artsy. It just had to be quick, easy and eye-catching because I had a party to go to. The aforementioned party ended up being cancelled because the lady of the hour was feeling a little under the weather. Such is life! I’m secretly happy that I don’t have to go out in that weather though. I thought my hands were going to fall off walking home from work earlier
Anyway, I digress. I am no longer relying on a photograph as a cop out post. I now have some time to think and reflect for the first time this week. Time that should probably be utilised in a more productive manor – I can hear my laundry basket repeatedly whispering my name – nonetheless, time that I choose to spend as I please!
Today the Irish Independent published a map illustrating areas of Europe & North Africa that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) deem both safe & unsafe for Irish travellers. How do the DFA decide which country is safe or unsafe? They gather information from Irish embassies & consulates and other foreign ministries. From this collated research, each country is given a security status:
Take Normal Precautions (Green)
Exercise Caution (Yellow)
Exercise Extreme Caution (Orange)
Avoid Non-Essential Travel (Red)
Do Not Travel (Dark Red)
Source: The Irish Independent
It is no surprise that due to recent events France has been marked as status exercise extreme caution as a state of emergency has been declared. We are warned to avoid all non-essential travel to Ukraine, Tunisia or Egypt. Travellers are told to exercise caution in nine European countries, including Belgium where a terrorist attack is ‘possible and likely’. Even though the DFA has advised travellers to take normal precautions in Germany, I’m not going to lie, my impending trip next week is making me a little nervous. While I am looking forward to exploring Berlin, it is evident that certain countries are being targeted, and with both France & Belgium on high alert, it seems natural that Germany should be wary too! Having said that, there is absolute no point in living a fearful life. As my friend Morgan said in a recent post about traveling amidst the turmoil “I won’t let fear of hateful people and their activities consume me. I won’t allow myself to wallow in worry of the unknown. I won’t keep myself trapped inside my apartment”.
The DFA have these warnings in place to advise travellers, and aid them in making informed decisions before they travel based on information that they may not have previously had access to.
I plead complete ignorance to the majority of devastating events & attacks that take place in countries outside of Europe. I take full responsibility for not educating myself because, quite frankly, I tend to live in a little Western-European bubble with a sprinkling of the United States every so often. However, coming to the realisation of my own selfishness and self-centredness shocks me. It’s frightening how numb I’ve become to images of war-torn countries, that I no longer question the reasoning behind the violence itself. I take it at face value. People are attacking other people. Countries are attacking other countries. It happens. But not in Europe. Never again in Europe.
I have been fortunate to live a life sheltered from extremities that other countries face on a day to day basis simply because I won the birth lottery.
But this does not give me the right to remain uneducated & misinformed on what is happening in other countries, in other communities, to other human beings around the world. Article 1 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’ Everyone should have the opportunities that I’ve had. And by opportunities I mean basic human rights, because at the end of the day, we are all the same.
I realise I have a lot of catching up to do. I’m starting at foundation stage. I’m embarrassed that I haven’t shown a greater interest in politics & international relations before now. But I am slowly and steadily educating myself. A couple of weeks ago I signed up for a course by Amnesty International on human rights & the right to freedom of expression. It started this week, and I’m hoping it will increase my basic awareness of human rights & international laws, before I delve into the politics behind all the evil in the world right now. It may be a small start, but at least it’s a start.
Basically what I’m trying to get across by this mumbo jumbo of a post is that the world scares me right now.
Or rather the actions that certain societies are taking to get what they want scares me. Conflict scares me. Violence scares me. Bloodshed scares me. When are people going to realise that like attracts like; just as violence attracts violence, peace will attract peace. It may be a simplistic & optimistic perspective, but I truly think that people make it complicated because of close-mindedness, and lack of understanding & compassion for the opposing view.
There’s not a lot I can do to help from my bedroom in Southern Ireland, but I’m not helping anyone by subconsciously deciding that what happened to the innocent victims in Paris is more important than the innocent victims in Syria, simply because I happened to be born by chance into a country more geographically, politically & socially aligned to one than the other.
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