London, Feb 11 2017 Day 1 of 4 (London – Cambridge tour)
Planned Journeys Inform. Unplanned ones Inspire
There is a fun in treading a planned path. A Well-planned trip is half the journey. After all, the last thing modern man wants to do is to spend some cognitive energy on a non-entertaining subject. He is promptly ready to pay any numeric bills, walk as many miles, talk as many hours, but shy of any thinking minutes.
Maps, notes, facts, thus become handy when stepping on a foreign soil. Bus and train numbers, distance calculations and weather information only make the journey fruitful.
However, there are times when Destiny diverts us to unplanned territories with unimagined thoughts. Planned routes inform, I already knew. However, unplanned ones inspire and illuminate, I had realized that day.
The Bloodbath of British Raj
It was as part of my medieval world culture tour that I arrived in London. No Indian can be free from the cruel and colonial memories of ‘British Raj’. School history textbooks are filled with the demonic atrocities of the White Man, their generals and governors, king and queen, princes and barons, evoking cinematic emotions of fear and abhorrence.
As I swiftly solo-walked through the forest of map-marked London’s historic, yet lifeless, landmarks, something distracted me to jump the marked coordinates on my mobile phone. Just as we always fail to recall the beginning of a dream and remember only the latter part, similar is the case of getting distracted. We only realize the diversion from our awareness AFTER we are diverted, i.e. not during the process.
Insane Mothers. Wrinkled Grandmothers
The distraction led me to walk on the Whitehall locality where gigantic government buildings gloriously stood with amazing architectural aura. A large number of people gathered under a historic statue, which read Bernard Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery of Alamein. The crowd included men, women and even infants. It was freezing cold and snowing too. No sane mother would bring her infant in this extreme weather unless it was a death and life matter. There was nothing to enjoy in the one-degree cold for the old women with wrinkled faces and fading voices. I could not take my hands out of my woolen jacket and these protesters were openly holding placards since some time. It was either insanity at work or their lives were brutally at stake. Either way, it would never be for some others’ sake.
The Media Drone
Human calculations and approximations are mostly based on prenotions and confusions. Understanding and misunderstanding are both learned from environment. Media ‘drone’ you with concepts and misconcepts which define our perception of the Other.
Unlearn before Learn
The cold continued its chilling offensive even as I walked a step closer, pushing my way to the center of the gathering. What I learned from there shattered all my calculations and forced me to unlearn some past facts and learn new ones instead.
Lesson one. They had not assembled there to protest the violation of their immediate rights. Lesson two. The subject of their protest was not even remotely connected with their way of life, neither geographically nor ideologically.
For Refugee. By Refugee
Organized by Safe Passage UK, the protest was apparently organized to express their disapproval of the closure of Dubs scheme, created in 2016, for transfer and rescue of refugee children which is said to have facilitated rehabilitation of 3000 unaccompanied children in different parts of Europe. It is noteworthy to know that Lord Dubs, the man behind the benevolent legislation, was himself a child refugee during the Nazi days.
Geographical Proximity. Ideological Responsibility
The assembly of protesters had members of all ages, possibly ranging from age 0 to 70. Mothers held their infants, despite the single degree temperature. They had gathered to express their solidarity for the desperate refugee children suffering in camps across Europe. Certainly an impossible sight to witness in the Asian and Arab countries, who had more geographical and ideological proximity, read responsibility, to the victims than this European community.
‘Have you no Shame?’
Embarrassed at my inhumanity, I had a look at one of the placards. “This is about the Children. Have you no shame”, read one of them. Although it addressed the decision of the present British government, I guess it was more suited to those regions and regimes blind to this modern human tragedy.
The Problem with Muslim Eschatological Preachers
Another heart-stirring truth is the eagerness and steadfastness of the Jewish community in their unwavering solidarity for the suffering refugee children, mostly belonging to the Muslim faith. Jews were subject of the inhuman Holocaust and have first class experience of the physical and psychological pain of refugee life. Many of them reached the British soil, fearing for their lives from the hands of Nazi demons. Therefore, it is highly imminent for the Islamic world, especially their Media, to refrain from collective mentality and give up propagation of animosity between the two communities. The Muslims’ cry to distance their faith from the extremist elements within should also be complemented with their distinction between Judaism and Zionism. Muslim preachers should be cautious in their eschatological lectures not to address all Jews as allies and harbingers of the Accursed Dajjal (Anti-Christ) in the apocalyptic days.
I also came across several social media hashtags pertaining to this protest event including #Refugeeswelcome, #JewsforRefugees, #ResistTrump. But no hashtag will be equal to this selfless gathering in the extreme winter.
Artists against Racism
The pro-refugee children movement did not end with street protests and online campaigns. While film award nights are usually spoiled by glitz and glamour of stars, the BAFTA night (held the next day) witnessed a prominent television director to severely term the UK government decision as ‘brutal’.
Stand upto the Petulant Child
The pro-refugee event did not forget to display their scathing opposition to the Trump’s racist remarks and raids. In the preceding week, there was a mammoth 40,000-strong march against Trump’s proposed UK visit. There were no second thoughts in their minds when it came to Stand upto Trump’. The fire was spreading beyond London to other cities including Manchster, Leeds and Birmingham. British MPs termed Trump as a ‘petulant child’ while Sadiq Khan, the beloved London mayor called for the American President’s invitation to be withdrawn.
London, the Queen. Londoners’ humanity her Crown
The warmth of humanity emanating from the hearts of protesters there made me forget the ferocious cold. To a local mediaperson who came to report the event, I could not but share my enthusiasm, ‘the beauty of London is not merely in the amazing monuments and landmarks of the London Bridge, Big Ben, Birmingham palace or Windsor Castle, but in the hearts of these heroic human rights champions who came out in this cold in support of the frozen, foreign and forsaken refugee children.’
Posted Feb 25 2017