The World is War Zone

defend gaza

I imagine the people of Gaza must be glad to know that people care.
That even as bombs rain down on their homes, even as they bury their children, there are people out in the world who condemn this madness, who add their voices to a global outcry against Israel’s criminally stupid attack on Gaza.
I feel a great sense of belonging outside Downing Street watching young Muslim women and old white lefties, and keffiah clad cool sorts hurl shoes over the police.
There are thousands there. Tens of thousands. Still coming up along Embankment, past Big Ben, up Whitehall and pouring into the heart of Babylondon.
The protestors chant a bitter sweet call and response – Israel: Terrorist, George Bush: Terrorist, Gordon Brown: Terrorist.
It is like the sweetest music to my ears and because it is nearly Carnival I am tempted to start put my hands in the air and shake my defiant boomsie in the face of those who are silent on Israel’s genocidal mission.
I imagine the people of Gaza must feel reassured that so many thousands of people around the world have taken to their streets demanding an end to the madness. I also imagine they are too busy trying to survive to give a damn about us standing out there being captured on film by the police photographers.
There is a smell of fuel in the air and before I know it five or six Asian youths have set fire to a replica of the Israeli flag. There is so much anger in their eyes I have to look away.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to live a life punctuated by war.
But standing in Trafalgar Square I am struck by the silence of all those thousands of people, listening to the various speakers, sharing food, leaning on placards, shivering in the cold.
It’s not often these days that I feel proud to be a human. Less often than feeling like I belong.
It is a constant source of confusion for me that humans can just be so downright mean to each other.
image000 When people come together to lend their voices to bring an end to the suffering of others, surely this is a much more powerful thing than sitting at home watching it all unfold on the television, mumbling your complaints into your living room.
I imagine that these mass outpourings of love and rage only ever happen when humanity comes under such threat that those of us who still hold on to some, have to find ways to manifest it.
Annie Lennox calls down shame and damnation on the Israeli government as Somali men perform ablutions before their prayers, right there on the Strand, in the shadow of Lord Nelson’s column.
It is too cold to do anything but stand there, shifting weight from one leg to another. Feeling angry that all I can do is stand there, in the cold, holding a placard.
It is too cold to talk but just being there is warmth enough. Not just because demonstrations are to activists what ecstasy pills are to ravers.
And as I reflect on the niceness of the feeling of being part of something, I remember the bitter taste in the back of my throat when so-called leaders accused people like me of being an outsider for taking an interest in what was going on in Chatham with plans to build an Alcoa aluminum smelter.
How Trinidad is a place where we have become as obsessed as our so-called leaders with carefully demarcated territories that must be controlled by the various competing patriarchies. About how difficult it is for us to express solidarity with each other, far less to care about what’s going on outside of our immediate community.
I suppose this is the case everywhere. Apathy thrives. Later I meet up with a bredrin from Iceland who tells me amazing stories about a whole country coming to the brink of collapse and how this has completely galvanized even the most complacent of the middle class to take to the streets, to take over town halls and cinemas to meet and confront their leaders who dare not treat them with the kind of contempt that is readily available for us here.
Too fantastic to imagine that this will ever happen in sweet and sour T&T. Too ridiculous to imagine that Trinidadians will ever care about anything enough to take to the streets in their thousands.
Apathy thrives, unless perhaps your wallet or your life is affected.
The world is a war zone whether blood is being shed or not. And those who want peace or security cannot resist the urge to try and fight for it.

For more information on how you can speak out against Israel’s crimes against Gaza and the Palestinian people click here