Cloudbank Across the Fens

We’re very pleased to let you know that Leona’s new book of poetry, Cloudbank Across the Fens, is now available. It contains poems from the perspective of life in a village on the edge of the Fen Country, in the East of England. We do hope you’ll enjoy it.

It’s available from Amazon or you can get it through your local bookshop.

You can read more about the book here.

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Our Anthropocene Adventure…

In the last several years I’ve been caught up in knowing ‘who we really are’–if it is indeed possible, that is, ‘deep ancestry’, beyond worldviews to ones…

Both my husband and I have done the mouth-swab DNA adventure via National Geographic-sponsored (or linked…) Genographic Project (Dr Spencer & Co). He’s descended from the matriarchy-destroying Kurgans (supposedly) and myself, from the earliest types of agricultural settlers (in ancient Persia or present day Iran or thereabouts)–that is, our mutant genes from these folks, as we all descend ‘out of Africa’ from what is now East Kenya. I’ve now convinced my younger brother to do one so we can access my father’s line…

It’s quite an adventure, our Anthropocene Journey though the ages. Almost addictive. One of the last books I read on the subject is Stephen Oppenheimer’s Out of Eden: The peopling of the world (Constable 2003), which followed my reading of his fascinating earlier work: Eden in the East; The Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia. It can become quite complex, the science of DNA etcetera so one has to bear with it…sometimes simply sift through the charts (glancing at them rather than get lost in them). But when I first started this adventure it was the works by Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes that really caught my interest, notably The Seven Daughters of Eve, Adam’s Curse and The  Blood of the Isles. He seems to have helped ‘popularize’ the study of our human ancestry by making the information ‘more available.’ Oppenheimer does this too, in his own style, and what I enjoy about his work is the inclusion of some of his own personal self, process and family.

This is all to say that I recommend this adventure, O Unknown Human, or more likely Known, as really only personal friends appear to read my blogs, which is just A-OK with me (for now). In doing so YOU add to the story–‘hu[m]story’ perchance as vs ‘herstory’ , ‘history’ or even the unacceptable despite early feminist linguistic advice, ‘perstory.’ Just go to National Geographic’s website, picking up on the Genographic Project.

Happy Trails!

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Syria Suffering

Here we are again, O World, watching A People suffer in the name of freedom against tyranny and despotic rule of an impoverished majority by an elite minority. And this time, even trickier to deal with, as the contortions at the United Nations HQ daily reveal.

Once again we see the gruesome footage of mutilated youth and fleeing refugees across borders, this time Turkey’s with Syria. Meantime, further over in North Africa the incessant pounding of Gaddhafi holdouts, weapons caches and command posts by NATO planes eats away at the crumbling regime, with daily reports by the revolutionary Libyan freedom fighters that they will soon converge on and liberate Tripoli. An all too awful fascination of what will actually happen when that happens–lurks at the edges of our foresight.

What to do, how to do–for the Syrian anti-regime democracy and freedom aspiring millions, as HELP US is written all across the country despite the ban on media coverage–as The People find a way, at great personal danger, to get us images, so we can choose to find a way. Russia and China play the reluctant participants, for various reasons particular to them both. They don’t like the extent of where NATO has taken the UN mandate (“we really didn’t mean you to go so far” ) but are content actually to get rid of Gaddhafi and his thugs sooner than later– and China especially would be openly even more hypocritical to endorse putting down internal uprisings with Tibetans and other millions of aspiring democrats (think Tienanmen Square) waiting their turn…

So Syria suffers and some of us, a lot of us I suspect, suffer with them, but we feel helpless even as France and the UK (supported by the US and some others) take the lead again, however ‘weak’ the condemnation (no sanctions or backup)–but at least it’s a symbolic beginning we might whisper as we struggle to sleep whilst Syria erupts into nightmare proportions.

Recalling ‘the energy-field’ just before the UN and then NATO went after the Gaddhafi regime, it was a build-up of world opinion–following the exhilarating and positive events– still ‘revolutions in progress’–of Tunisia and Egypt. These North African countries, Tunisia and Egypt especially as they have been popular tourist destinations from ancient to modern times by Europeans and latterly, ‘the world tourist market’. They are almost really ‘part of the European ethos’; we share a lot of history, notably Roman. We might like to think that wasn’t so of Syria–but not true, remembering that most popular Christian expression ‘the Road to Damascus’–Syria was indeed very much a part of ‘our joint European-Middle-East’ history–it’s just that it never made it to Our Top Tourist Destinations (for various reasons) and it’s been rather ‘hidden from view’ culturally compared to Tunisia and Egypt. But for that matter, Libya was never a popular contemporary tourist destination either. ‘The Colonel’  made himself and his regime so unpopular  (despite more recent attempts to normalize) that ‘we all got damn well fed up’. With Syria’s Assad replacing his cruel tyrant of a  father (rather than the eldest son who was meant to), ‘there was hope’ for change and some of that still slightly clings on. But it is evaporating quickly with Turkey’s horror of what they are receiving across their borders, tales of monstrous acts. Maybe it will be Turkey, on the eve of an election itself, who will help move the impasse.

But on a different level, it is Us, Those of Us Who Are Watching and Yearning with freedom-aspiring Syrians, it is Us Who May Turn the Tide Again, as We Did with Egypt and Libya–Tunisia happened so quickly, it made it ‘easier’ with Ben Ali and his hated wife (and family) fleeing ahead of the storm he’d brought upon themselves.

Watching, sending ‘the energy of solidarity’, however mixed and conflicted by not knowing much of this ancient culture, but knowing the basics that People need, that is our beginning. With the apparent collapse of hope in Bahrain due to Saudi Arabia’s thuggish support for the regime there and the mixed intricacies of the Yemeni Situation, We The Watchers in The Stream (vide Aljazeera’s coverage by that name), we can eventually help tilt the axis of good against evil (so to speak) –will it be soon enough to prevent mass slaughter in Syria (as was done in a relatively media-free hidden way by Assad’s father)? Maybe, maybe not. We managed to prevent it on the Road to Benghazi, let’s hold the hopeful vision for a New Awakening (in some form, maybe a Miracle as it was for Paul) on the Road to Damascus.

And then again in the end, it is The Peoples of these countries who “will do it for themselves”–we can only support their choices, their aspirations for a better life.

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Reading Egypt

Ever since my journey to Egypt–nay, before, in preparation too–I have been reading books about Egypt, books about people who’ve visited Egypt, books about people who love Egypt, books about fictional lives in Egypt and of course, books by Egyptians.

Now, I’ve just (finally) finished The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif, whom, synchronistically I believe I happened to see interviewed on Aljazeera during the recent Egyptian revolution. She was talking about having been down in Tahrir Square and some young relatives were down there–reading her work, I can see why she’d be part of it and encourage young relatives.

The Map of Love was shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize, a worthy achievement  for an Egyptian writing in English– Wiki  refers to her as an Anglo-Egyptian who studied for a PhD in linguistics at University of Lancaster. Translated into at least 21 languages it’s sold over a million copies. It’s sent me to search for her debut novel, In the Eye of the Sun (1993). I won’t describe its plot or style — it’s a great read on all fronts and hope you get to read it. It informed me about aspects of Egypt I had no idea, reminded me about some I had forgotten and especially useful, gave me an ‘insider’s view’ about the complex early process of the Palestinian Problem as seen by the Palestine-linked characters.

One might be tempted to say it’s almost like returning from the sublime to the…less sublime…when I say that before The Map of Love I finally managed to read  Margaret George’s very thick popular novel: The Memoirs of Cleopatra (1997). However, in fact, Memoirs is a bloody good read too and Margaret George is an aficionado/lover of is pointed out on the first page, she “first visited Egypt when she was nine years old and wrote her earliest version of Cleopatra’s story as a school project in 1956.”

Of course, before these two fictional works about Egypt, I had read Amelia Edwards’ [1831-1892] travelogue A Thousand Miles Up the Nile and (on the Nile itself) Florence Nightingale’s [1820-1910] Letters from Egypt: A Journey on the Nile, as well as of course Lucie Duff Gordon’s [1821-1869) particularly well-know Letters from Egypt. I discussed these earlier in the year on this site: “Isis Unveiled: Letters from Egypt, The Freedom March & the Shared Pain of Revolution (Feb 2011)” as well as Margot Badran’s study of the life of Egyptian feminist Huda Sharaawi: “Remembering the 1919 Revolution” (February 2011)

In between I read (having fortuitously found them as I exited the British Museum’s “Book of the Dead Exhibition”) the renowned Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouzthree early historical novels  Khufu’s Wisdom, Rhadopis of Nubia and Thebes At War. I look forward to reading a selection (if not all) of his more contemporary-set novels. Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988 and suffered seriously (including an assassination attempt) for his willingness to tell it as he saw it. More on Mahfouz when I have tred his world more thoroughly.

There are others and more to come, being on an Egyptian role as it is, and I hope to continue over into other North African and Gulf and Middle Eastern fictional and non fictional worlds–with a special focus on women writers. I have also picked  up a copy of: The Goddess: Power, Sexuality and the Feminine Divine by Shahrukh Husain [1950-] of Pakistani origin living in London.

Maybe you can see where I am going with this–picking up from where long ago I read Egyptian feminist Nawal el Saadawi. There’s a first class video clip featuring her in a Guardian article from April 2010:

There are a lot of older feminists still out there, still “holding up half the sky” and younger ones (some may not call themselves that or know they are, but they stand on our shoulders as we stand on others’). The battle is a very long one, as long as humankind’s story. Nawal points the finger at religion as the major source of the problem, in particular the patriarchal religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam–which is where she started out in her long fight, with resisting the mutilation of young girls (and boys for that matter) based on religious practice.

And so my Journey to and through Egypt, the Great Motherland of Civilisation (mmmm…..)  continues…

PS: I also recommend Anthony Sattin’s The Pharoah’s Shadow: Travels in Ancient and Modern Egypt.

PPS: Ahdaf Soueif’s first novel In the Eye of the Sun is certainly worth a read-it gives a picture of the author as much as it does the heroine Asya as one suspects the work is quite autobiographical (although I can’t prove it!). The tortuous coming of age of a freedom loving Egyptian girl-woman is charted with great detail and verve, thus it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but one thing is certain, its picture of Egypt is strikingly authentic as well as the English-Egyptian cultural multilogue...


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Why The Right is So Wrong

Watching what is happening world-wide, not the least here in the UK, where the experiment in Coalition Governing is taking place between the ‘ruthless and tribal’ (special thanks to Vince Cable) Right as represented by the Tory/Conservative Party and the fluctuating Liberal Democrats (made up on would-be liberal lefties and liberally inclined centre rightists) is proof of the pudding that The Right is Intrinsically Very Wrong.

It’s as if their blind dedication (or religious devotion) to forces of laissez-faire crimepetitive capitalism (thanks for that reference to my late Cousin Professor Gary Boyd) has deprived them of the ability not only to see consequences of their actions but even moreso, deprived them of their natural survival skills–and the trouble is they want to take the rest of us down with them into chaos and true dark ages.

I won’t bother to list all the places they are doing irrevocable harm and intend to do more beyond the UK (balanced somewhat by Alex & the Scottish Nationalist Team up in Scotland) and Canada–where they have been newly elected into a majority but at least my pals the sort-of socialists New Democrats now make up the official opposition. In our (so-called) democratic systems we need the check-and-balance drama of left, right and centre versions of same until we can graduate into some new form of more enlightened governance, and so we hope that we can take turns at governing, bringing in some relatively enlightened socially responsible, let alone environmentally responsible, programs that work–sometimes unfortunately one or the other gets in for too long (like the Liberals in Canada and the Tories in the UK) and things get corrupted more than usual one way or another.

Right now Conservatives (world-wide) are pushing on all fronts to return us to true dark ages from which some extra dark tyranny will be forced upon us to bring some sense of pseudo-order. Racism, patriarchalism, poverty. prejudice–all driven by fear nurtured at the heart of The Right. Who needs the ‘BNP’ (British Nationalist Party, seen as facist) when you have fascist Tories to do the dirty work, or for that matter, UKIP (the right wing UK Independence Party). Under the cloak of the UK Coalition government, one by one, and the NHS is the most prominent one, programs that serve ‘The People’ are being removed–and blame it on the need to cut The Debt–Canada’s Tories don’t even have to play that last card–which turns out to be a fantasy one, a means to convince everyone that we must all give up all the services we were just getting somewhat better at providing for ourselves to help the body politic function smoothly and for the good of all of us, not just an elite.

What’s amazing is how so many good working and middle class workers, reading their pulp newspapers and watching crap tv, are taken in by The Propaganda that will disenfranchise and deprive them, and making the rift between rich and poor ever greater, inexorably. Just like The Silly Right in the good ol USA, they fantasize that they too will have a chance to get rich and lord it over those who can’t manage. And anyway why should they pay for people who are less worthy than they imagine they are? And why should they pay for other peoples’ kids to go to school? Why should they pay for anything they don’t like or want? The answer is blowing in the wind: piles of garbage on all levels, the decline of the body politic, chaos.

The Far Right suffers from the most serious dose of selfishness that one can imagine. It forces normally peacefully minded people like me to have to go further left to balance their short-sightedness. The moderate Right has a hard time moderating the rest of their Z-team and so go along with them to mollify them–only later they remember that some of them are really ‘gentlemanly’ or ‘good-womanly’ at heart and didn’t really mean to put into power (unleash upon an unsuspecting public) such evil forces as Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan (and they then toss them out post-haste), embarrassed, replacing them with the likes of John Major and George Bush Senior (who unfortunately gave birth to a monster son). In Canada this has taken a particular turn in that a renewed Right has returned the terror from the West whilst the centre and left have placed the heroic Jack Layton in the ring with the Minotaur. We hope that Jack is indeed Theseus.

And who is his Ariadne who will lead him out of The Maze with a Red Thread? Probably, the Woman Vote–who recently have helped the Orange Crush phenomenon. But then the myth continues and it is said that he abandons her (the woman question of old), but other versions say she left him and married a Real God. The latter sounds more likely, eh gals?

Anyway, The Right can be Very Wrong and we need to indeed, ‘walk like an Egyptian’ to curtail their evil ways. We may be watching revolutions in North Africa and the Gulf on tv and laptop but any time soon we need to get out there ourselves and join the youth and activists who are already out there. An Arab Awakening needs to be backed up by a We Awakening Here in ‘The West’ lest we lose what our ancestors fought so hard for, The Right to Choose.


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Reality TV in the Arab Spring…

The days and weeks and now months progress as Aljazeera becomes an old friend to  rely on, with in between visits to the BBC, France24 and occasionally CNN…

Watching the revolutionary spirit spread across North Africa and beyond, now to Syria, how more open can an occidental heart get to the men and women and children taking to the streets with a dream of better lives?  Calling for dignity and freedom for all, an end to tyranny and dictatorship, corrupt government, grinding poverty, unfair distribution of wealth and mistreatment by competing sectarianism, we must all see our lives mirrored in their eyes….

I wondered how open our hearts and minds could be ‘internationally’…and it seems, we still have room for more, InshAllah/Isis…we have not closed off. I thought maybe  ‘we’ (the communal/aggregate western and world-wide WE) might shut down when the Syrian one began, but perhaps by then we were more ready–not with solutions obviously, as each revolution seems more ‘tricky’ than the last and some are going very badly indeed. The Egyptians are walking their talk, helping the Palestinians unify as their own internal Palestinian demonstrations for unity put away their tents and flags…they won this round, between them…against the forces that would disunify and weaken. When will the Israelis have their own internal revolution to see the light? There are signs, with the American radical Mr Finkelstein brewing up openness from the American end (and visiting Palestine to share it).

Meantime, back on the Home Front in Libya, ‘The Peoples’ Army’ battles through the golden sand, inch by inch, becoming more professional by the day as various allies pop in with combative and non-combative support, as they find ways to act as a state, selling oil for paying salaries, starting their own bank, fixing their communication systems, supplying their people with food and health-care–succeeding against all odds in becoming a state faster than you could possibly imagine. If it weren’t REAL you wouldn’t believe it, it would be a Hollywood Tale of Daring-Do. Thus enter the cowboy from Arizona, Senator McCain; it’s rather odd but refreshing to be ‘on the same side’–and how can WE not be? We’ve seen enough in real life and history books to know that such battles for liberty are worth supporting and aiding, despite the cost, despite the politics; it would have been better if it could have been done by dialogue, peacefully, but monsters like Gadhafi don’t operate that way. They create evil dramas in which they play the leading role of misfit anti-hero, taking his family and his tribe into the dust with him. Hollywood will make a real good ‘un outta that scenario; someone is already working on it no doubt.

Meantime back at Westminster and Buckingham Ranch we have the Royal Wedding of William and Kate (Catherine actually) tomorrow. Withdrawing the invitation to the Syrian ambassador was a good sign of where we are going with this one. Getting ahead of the game. It shall not be said that a once and future king-to-be allowed a representative of a murderous dictatorship to celebrate HIS wedding with HRH. Of course, there are still other representatives of other nasty regimes allowed in, but we have to be reasonable, we can’t expect too much too quickly all at once. Of course, once those HRHs were tyrants, murderous ones too, not so long ago really. Till Cromwell and his lot came along, and then proceeded to do likewise, and the nobs got back in, albeit their power abated.

So, where are WE? WE, the Spectators or the Observers–preferably the latter, like the ‘observers’ in the air fleet arm (like record-guru, producer of The Beatles, George Martin was during the war) as they got to control the pilots, the action, by OBSERVING and giving orders. Thus The Observer newspaper, The Guardian and of course, we have to throw in The Independent. We are Observers then, sending our social media messages along with the force of our Collective WILL of the World as to how it ‘should be’ if we had our moral ‘druthers’: democracy, end of tyranny. Period.

My concern is how THEY/WE will create/build/sustain economies that will enable the building of enlightened new democracies. The Benghazi Community seems to be lighting the way, showing us how quickly it can be done, with Egypt and Tunisia working hard at it (with our collective fingers crossed). Luckily, the Libyans have oil to start them off–they will have to prepare really quickly for the End of Peak Oil Times, but that must look a ways off right now and they are rather busy with FIGHTING (and paradoxically one of their problems is getting refined oil).

Then of course we have The Runaway Train of Climate Change barreling toward US ALL. Some of the early fallout of it is already driving some of these revolutions, not a link that many pundits make reference to.

But enough for now, time to make the husband his dinner so the wife can go out tonight early. I don’t need to watch any more TV today as Reality is happening, and anyway, when I do, it’s only the news stations that capture my interest, as indeed Real Life has a Way of Doing That.

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‘An Arab Spring for Women’-article in The Nation

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Independent Newspaper’s Columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on Dress Codes for Muslim Women

“The burka is wrong but so is banning it”

On 4 April 2011, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown wrote this fascinating article, Sixteen reasons why I object to this dangerous cover-up.

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Vigil for Libya, Prayer for Bahrain

How close so many of us feel to you who live in the ancient desert lands….

I hope you in Libya feel our concern, our sleepnessness, our vigils this night when you sent bright fireworks into the night skies of Benghazi–perhaps you were sending us signals of solidarity as you felt us working on all levels to get the world to support you, as finally the UN Security Council voted to send you aid. How sad too that it has to come to military aid; how sad that the demented tyrant is so lost in his egocentric madness that he cannot ‘let his people go’… and he is of course allowed to continue in his mentally ill state by his egocentric sons and close supporters. Long ago, years in fact, they should have corralled him for the sake of all Libyans, set him aside in a palace by the sea to live out his delusions in a way that would not harm others. The warlike edge in me was so glad to hear that military force is coming your way to hopefully protect, support and liberate you and your ancient civilization and land; it lead me to wish for death to your enemies. But suddenly that still small voice within reminded me about the Higher Side of It All, that violence breeds violence (as indeed has happened in Libya), that wishing for the death of another was simply wrong. So, I seek that Higher Force to bring a Great Miracle to you in Libya, perhaps through the divine intervention of some wonderful combination of Allah and Isis, New and Ancient Deities: a peaceful end to the revolution. If only. Perhaps the old despot will have a change of heart, come to himself in some new way, or his sons and daughter will come to their better senses and take charge of a peaceful stepdown and passing over. Perhaps the supporters will turn around and see the writing on the wall and make it so. One hopes. If not, it will all work out on some other lesser, lower level, will prove messy (as expected) and bloody. It was almost a miracle that the world came together in the UN, even counting the abstentions from Russia, China and Germany, to help bring you freedom, so why not hope for further such miraculous turnarounds? I hope for the Higher but will have to live with the lower, no doubt.

And you brave protesters in Bahrain. Your determination is heartbreaking, your struggle even more complexed than Libya’s, as monarchial despotism and religious chasms make the battle for freedom harder and deeper. And the American interests in your country make it more difficult for them to take a strong stand against the despotic forces, although they are advising clemency, non-violence, etc. But your battle to end one of the few remaining autocratic monarchies who use their power to enrich themselves whilst impoverishing the people and the land is heroic and worthy of the world’s support.

It seems a lot for the ‘world’ to deal with at once–it is  all happening so quickly, more quickly than the ‘world’ is used to digesting easily. Can ‘we’ rise to the occasion as a united species, or even, at least, as a partial species? On top of the Arabian Spring we have the complex  crisis in Japan: not only the human disaster and the nuclear fear factor as well as its emerging effect on world trade and markets.

A lot of the digestive process is being aided or driven by the speedy use of different media forms. These are world events being watched around the world by a majority of us. This is driving the urge for freedom and democracy, for more transparency and people power as versus vested interests and autocratic despots. There are indeed more of us than them even though they own a vast proportion of the wealth on the planet compared to us. The force of our combined will is pushing the envelope to open, for change…and this change is blossoming up in many places, some expected, some not, just as our March spring in southern England brings the daffodils out as the snowdrops and crocuses die away.

We need these changes, this blossoming of people power, this humbling and reform of the wealthy elites, to face even greater changes on the planet that we will face. The backward resistance to the reality of climate change reveals the deep fears of many whose refusal to face scientific fact (lead by vested interests’ propaganda through low level media) is their last stand against changing their personal vested interests, to protect their lifestyles, however limited or large they are, as everyone’s house is their castle.

And this is at the root of it all: fear. Being ruled by fear and then being released from it. In each and every one of the revolutions and uprisings to date one common call has been heard: this release from fear, and a concomitant willingness to die if necessary for freedom–and this energy of release of fear and willingness to live with the results, whatever they might be, is what is pulsing across the world as we watch the young and old, men and women, children, gather together in their streets, claiming them back even as they are shot at, kettled, killed, beaten, or forced to hide behind the doors in Tripoli, waiting for liberation.

In place of fear, courage is born and nurtured. We all are touched by it, even those who try to control and batter and destroy it.

So the night is over. March 17th, 2011, was a memorable day, a very special St Patrick’s Day, the day the UN made history bringing together the world to free the people and land of ancient Libya.

Indeed, the sun is rising across the fenlands of my Cambridgeshire home…as the 18th March dawns and we hope for the highest in the desert lands.


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Still Waiting, Watching, Hoping

Every day brings us closer to some terrifying dramatic climax, between events in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen and the nuclear disaster follow-up from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.

As if they were being orchestrated from deep out in space by a combination of the  unknown creator (whatever force is behind pure science) of the charismatic, prize winning astrophysicist-BBC star-program presenter and former pop star, Professor Brian Cox and ancient deities round the world.

The Pacific Ring of Fire has come alive with a vengeance at the same time as ‘The Arabian Spring’. Even as cherry blossoms bloom in Tokyo, making more poignant the great loss of humanity and the despair of a nation, so the desert comes alive, as young men and old bleed to death in the golden sands.

A monstrous regime says they are marching on Libya’s would-be liberators in their stronghold of Benghazi. Their delusional PR man swears it’ll all be over in 48 hours. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s really happening on the ground but there are a number of scenarios possible; ‘a lot of things’ are surely happening behind the scenes, if you read between the lines of the UK Foreign Secretary Hague and the fact that a French flag is flying outside the liberators’ HQ in Benghazi–as France has been the first to date to recognize the real government of the people of Libya as the liberators’ Council.

Dreamers like me are hoping some swift action will suddenly take place with or without the UN Security Council absolute ‘ok’, and crossing our fingers that ‘we’ (non Libyans)  won’t end up dragged into an ‘on the ground’ battle–which no one wants except probably the Gaddafis, to be able to justify their mad agenda. The defection of the former Libyan Interior Minister (with allegedly 8000 troops) to help lead the defense of the liberators is heartening as well as the news that the tyrant’s troops are too stretched to take Benghazi or hold even what they have (especially if more defections come) . The entire city of Benghazi is armed and the spirit of resistance strong, ‘to the death’ for freedom.

Old radicals like myself are stirred, as so many of us carry in our veins the blood of martyrs for freedom or causes won or lost, in my case the Great Graham, Montrose, and that scourge of his enemies, Bonny Dundee (also a Graham). My father claimed he himself was made for battle; WW2 was the finest time (however harrowing) of his life, when he was called upon to do his duty, to which he said, he was born to do.

The members of the younger generation who are resisting the Libyan regime  (as well as their parents) may well feel that they too were born for this freedom fight. They hoped they would get what Tunisia and Egypt are still working on achieving (relatively successfully to date) by peaceful means. But it was not to be, as their tyrant is a mad man who has taken his family and supporters with him into deeper madness, rather than ‘letting go and letting the people win’.

Many of my friends are there in spirit, battling with them, as we were in Tahrir Square. But when our time comes–and it will, however differently–note what is happening in Wisconsin–what will we do? I hope we can avoid ‘the worst’ as our ancestors fought long ago, in the English Civil War, for the beginning of our democratic rights, for a constitutional (only) monarchy, and before then, with the ‘Magna Carta’, for basic human rights. They gave their lives, men and women and children, for the relative freedoms we enjoy today, for which I am deeply grateful.

The point is: we must ensure we do not sell them off cheaply or lose them for want of action to preserve them. Will we be lulled by governments in power using PR spin (David Cameron’s only former job in the marketplace was as a PR man) to ‘let go’ for the sake of stability, jobs, supposed economic advantage? As the rich get richer round the world and the poor get poorer and the middle-class disappears (where most successful revolutions emerge from).

Revolution comes in many forms. We must all be alert. Each one of us carries a part of freedom that ‘democracy’ rests upon. If our voices are not heard, not raised, if we don’t put our feet where our mouths are, it is easier for unscrupulous, vested interest lawmakers (the majority sadly) and crimpetititive-capitalists (as versus the good ones, smile) to use the nation-state to their selfish advantage, all in the Name of Something (whatever game they play). Once they have power and make laws to control us by force of police and armies, it becomes very hard to oust them, to change things; we get ‘democracy in name only’.

We are either close to a dramatically wonderful climax or its opposite, or maybe, more likely, some strange this-worldly combination. Perhaps all this, if we don’t shut down as a species from stress and over-whelm, is a moment when humanity can finally grow beyond its ‘teen-age’ into ‘adult-hood’ although that analogy is woefully inadequate, even paradoxical, because it is the teenagers and the young who are leading the battles in North Africa and the Gulf. Maybe simply, we can awake to a New Humanity, wiser and more determined to govern ourselves fairly, to distribute wealth fairly, to raise our children without prejudice of creed, race and class.

If only. Inshallah, Inshisis.


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