I tend not to comment quickly on things. I like to think. And, actually, quite often I don’t have time enough to think.
I was travelling today. Travel time is good. It’s restful and gives me time to think.
And I was catching up with my Twitter timeline from last night. The night that our parliament voted to bomb Syria.
Now, I’m not a foreign affairs or middle-east expert. And I know that you can’t just sit down and talk with ISIS/IS/ISIL/Daesh. They are not peaceful people. Peace is not what they want.
But I do find myself disagreeing with the concept of bombing…well…anyone really. In my mind, violence only leads to violence. But I’ve found it hard to express what I think because it’s such a complex topic.
As I caught up with sentiment on social media, I found myself welling up.
Here’s some of what I read (and yes, I an fully aware of the self-controlled Twitter bubble that I live in where the views of others probably reflect and reinforce my own views):
This is a terrible mistake. Chest-banging, self-important, debating society fuckwittery. No plan, no exit strategy. No hope. #NotInMyName
— Samuel West (@exitthelemming) December 2, 2015
Odd that the big pro bombing speeches were just rhetoric, no details, only passion. A cynic might call it lying by omission. #DontBombSyria
— Oliver Humpage (@oliverhumpage) December 2, 2015
*Deny them asylum.
— The Malcontent (@TheMal_Content) December 2, 2015
It just all seems so…unnecessary and wrong and badly thought out. It’s a huge expense when we’re in a time of “austerity”. It’s massively destructive. It’s probably exactly what ISIS want us to do. It will probably kill innocent people. It will probably increase the number of people wanting to flee Syria. It will give ISIS or whatever they are called today more reason to hate us. I just can’t see many ways in which this action will make things better.
There was some positive stuff too:
If you are reading this, I beg you: PLEASE put more love in the world. Curb your own hate. Choose empathy. Practice patience. BE LOVE.
— Whitney Hess (@whitneyhess) December 2, 2015
Significant respect for parliament tonight and the debate and manner in which these human beings have conducted today #SyriaVote
— Matt Currey (@mattcurrey) December 2, 2015
It was good that it was debated at length. I do respect that we took time to do that and I do respect our democracy. This is what our elected representatives think we should do, and they’ve thought about it longer and harder than me.
But also can’t help thinking that there’s a different, better way. A more peaceful, non-violent, but equally disruptive way. When my own MP says:
I will be voting to stand shoulder to shoulder with France. To turn away now would be unforgivable #SyriaVote
— Justin Tomlinson MP (@JustinTomlinson) December 2, 2015
I wonder if, actually, this is all all about pride, strength, power. About not letting the side down. About 5-yearly electability. I wonder if NOT bombing Syria makes us look weak in some way, both to our international partners, and to some sections of the electorate.
But no. FOLLOWING France, the US, and the UN is, actually, the easy way. Standing up to France, the US, the UN and suggesting that they might be doing things wring is harder, and requires a greater show of strength. I’m not suggesting that we “turn away”. I’m suggesting that, rather than go and join in with the a gang in the street throwing stones and petrol bombs at a rival gang, we grab their arm and ask them: is this really the way to stop more people getting hurt?
I don’t have answers. But this all feels so wrong.