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I'm here because I sometimes have an opinion, and I need more than 140 characters to voice said opinion.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Embassies and Consulates

No matter our politics or religion or beliefs, there are some things that should be sacred.  The sanctity of a church or masjid or gurdwara or synagogue or temple is one such place. Sanctuary is ancient.  Sanctuary should be valued.  It makes us squirm when we see individuals claim sanctuary when their claim is based on views or actions contrary to our own, or when their claim seems specious.  However when we see obvious cases of injustice or persecution, we wholeheartedly support sanctity and stand behind it.  I feel this same quandary – I question some claims, while others I loudly proclaim my support.  This is the human way – we oftentimes go with what we know, and stay with our comfort zone when standing up to be counted.
Another place that should be sacred is an embassy or consulate.  Again, no matter our politics or religion or beliefs.  It is an agreement between governments – yet it should transcend politics – that we uphold the recognition of foreign land within our own land.  For those of us who travel the world, and/or those of us who hold more than one citizenship or passport, embassies and consulates represent a place of refuge and safety.  Again as well, we squirm when embassy and consular staff use their position or building to dodge justice, and similarly when citizens attempt to evade justice;  but when we require assistance or aid far from home, we seek out those people and buildings.  They have a familiarity about them to us, even if they sit juxtaposed to their surroundings.  They are us, amid a foreign collage.  Admittedly, at higher levels, they represent governments and countries on the political front – one only has to watch some international political squabble to watch the resultant recall or expulsion of an ambassador.  Then there are the rest of us – travellers, tourists, business people, speakers, students, educators, aide workers, journalists – the commoners, so to speak.  To us, embassies and consulates are our connection to home and our people.  Even if we consider ourselves citizens of the world, most of us still have a perceived home base, and an embassy stands for that.  Our embassy is our refuge when things go terribly wrong;  they are our home in foreign lands.  In good times and bad, they are our home and refuge.
Embassies and consulates are not our safety net for us behaving badly in another country and then hiding out there.  Or at least that shouldn’t be what they are for, but there we go back to the squirm factor.  Perhaps it is the price we pay for the privilege of refuge the rest of the time.  If you have been wrongly accused, if you have been the victim of a crime, if you have run afoul of an obscure local law, if you are physically hurt, if your family member or travelling companion has been killed, if you are truly physically lost, (and the list goes on) you would appreciate the refuge of an embassy or consulate.  Trust me.  You would know that even though you might still be in dire straits, you can breathe once inside those hallowed halls.  You won’t relax, but there is a temporary relief.
I have been in the place of some of my examples.  I have sought sanctity.  I have sought refuge.  I have wept to the bottom of my soul and been comforted.  Our world wasn’t the same afterward, but we have been able to go forward.  And most importantly, the danger could not touch us.  We were safe, albeit temporarily, in the sanctity of an embassy, and the grounds.  If you have never been in that place, it might be difficult to comprehend the full weight of this feeling.  But if you have been in that place, you would know with absolute conviction, that the sanctity of embassies and consulates must be upheld.  No matter our politics or religion or beliefs.  No matter the squirm factor.

Saturday, 23 July 2011


Once again, a chance tweet, a chance RT, a chance Thread, has led me to think and question. Why do I do what I do? Do I, perchance, have an "agenda" - as in the negative kind?

Since I am currently in Twitter gaol - too many tweets apparently, I shall use the time wisely spent in writing.

I advertise myself as an info and news addict, and a proud backslush tweeter. To be clear, I do consider myself that – a backslush tweeter, news aggregator, or whatever similar term you want to define me by. Whatever you call me, yes, I feel a responsibility to facts and followers. Whatever personal opinion might pop into my head from time to time, I try to present different and varying viewpoints. I specifically state that what I choose to RT means (to me) that the tweet is interesting, funny, informative, provocative, insightful, and/or thoughtful.

I don't deliberately RT someone's provocative tweet, in an effort to humiliate them or hold them up to be ostracised. I RT that provocative tweet: to show that there are provocative points of view around issues, to highlight that not all people think the same, and to hopefully get others thinking. Sometimes I RT that which I might find personally distasteful. However, you need to know that as a former journo,  I don't feel the need, nor feel I have the luxury to only read or listen or RT the pretty, the tasteful, the perfect, the good. I try not to go to the gory distasteful or the crass provocative, but rather highlight that which makes us think, and question what we think. Rather than just stick to the middle road, I will weave back and forth across all lanes of life;  and actually, I don't think I should have to apologise for that.

As mentioned previously, yes I feel a responsibility to exercise some constraint over what I RT, but I censor infrequently. Someone admonished me today that we (which included me apparently) need to lead by example. I do not pretend - even remotely - to be a leader!! Again, to be very clear, I do not claim to be anything but an info and news addict who happens to find an outlet (and somewhat creative one at that) by backslushing. I conduct myself responsibly in this craft – I think. There are those on various social media platforms who want to lead, or who by their actions are vaulted to those positions. Good for them. I, on the other hand, have no such ambitions, and in fact, am the one who is most likely to be found in the background, RT those leaders, or about those leaders. And I am happy with that.

I do, however, hold an agenda;  but I think even journos would be okay with my hidden agenda.  It formed when I was young, and probably reflects that I have lived, survived and am trying to thrive, through tragedy and pain. I wish/hope/pray/think a lot about:
-          World peace
-          Everyone to just get along, please
-          Everyone to live happily ever after
-          Everyone to have “enough” – enough food, shelter, possessions, security, happiness
-          Etc

So if anyone feels that what I RT (or even the occasional time I tweet myself) has an agenda behind it, yes, they just might be right. But check the above list before passing judgement on whether my agenda is really a bad thing.

Friday, 8 April 2011


Even when we think we have the neutral or righteous side of a story, we may be surprised to learn we don't. Perhaps it is the lesser evil, but it doesn't make our original viewpoint correct.

In a current conflict, I thought the side I knew was the righteous side. A chance @ mention led me to check out some new tweeps and their tweeps. Lo and behold, a previously unheard viewpoint. With evidence that showed my original viewpoint - although apparently held by many others - might in fact be flawed. The king indeed has no clothes. Interesting that among these new voices, was admittance that neither king had clothes.

Naked afore the world - the truth exposed for all to see. Wake-up call for me.

I thought I knew. Obviously I knew, but despite my usual efforts, I knew only one side. Now of course there will always be differing points, and the occasional shouts against the norm, but what has impressed me is that even the most-exposed, the most-obvious, the most-talked-about, the most "righteous", may sometimes be just as wrong as the other side.

Thank you Nii.

Saturday, 26 March 2011


Yesterday I read a tweet that started a discussion with someone, which got me on a bit of a tear. @sirmyke tweeted: "this cnn guys cover egypt and libya then wen covering ivory coast they say 'lets now go to africa'. #wtf".
Couldn't agree more re wtf. Two thoughts come to mind. First, since when does North Africa not belong in Africa? Even my family in Egypt sometimes refer to themselves as Middle Easterners. However one should expect a supposed international news org to get it right. CNN, really? wtf indeed. Second, why is it that people think of Africa as a country? It is a continent. I will not get into the politics of whether there are 51, 54 or 60-something countries, sovereign states or territories. Suffice to say there are countries, lots of them, that are located in Africa;  but Africa is not a country. Even if Sarah Palin thinks it is.