Landschlacht, Switzerland, 24 February 2017
Perhaps all of this is none of my business.
Perhaps I should just quietly go about my life ignoring the world around me.
What does one man’s opinion matter, especially if that man lacks wealth, power or fame?
I believe that no man is an island, that each man is a note that contributes to the symphony of mankind.
I believe if a person acts according to the surety of conscience, resolving to do no harm but fight for the common good then that voice merits attention.
I live in one of the world´s most wealthiest countries, not by premeditated choice, but because I followed my heart and my wife when she sought better working conditions as a doctor than our homelands were offering.
But living in Switzerland, just as living in other countries prior to this (including my home and native land of Canada) did, often saddens me.
For it is the acquisition of wealth that seems to drive both institutions as well as individuals to act in ways detrimental to both our and others’ human spirit.
We have allowed ourselves over generations to let pieces of metal and paper dominate our decisions: how we spend our days, what we consider valuable, how we choose our leaders, how we interact, how we choose our life companions, the list seems endless.
Why do we believe that a beggar impoverished by circumstance is less worthy of respect than a banker who profits from the hard labour of others?
Why do people starve in the world when there is an overabundance of food available that if equally distributed could reach everyone?
Why do we send young people and civilians to their deaths in wars so we can protect rare resources in the name of ideals we preach but seldom practice outside our borders?
Why are farmers who put food on our tables less respected than supermodels who are mere walking clothes hangers?
We spend 80% of our adult lives working, yet so very few seem to enjoy the work they do, but we sacrifice our joy for what we believe to be the greater good: comfortable home lives.
But is that big screen TV enhancing our relationship with our spouses and children?
We reach our destinations faster, at the sacrifice of communion with our environment.
We have access to more information, but no time to assimilate it.
Why do we think ourselves superior to others and disregard what their common humanity has to teach us?
There is much I do not understand, much I have to learn.
I am a simple man of simple education, but I try to think and understand and learn about a world beset with problems.
I have been blessed by life in that I have been allowed to teach others to earn my daily bread, in the opportunities I have had to explore a small part of the world, in the range of information sources that time and place have granted me access.
I have a warm, dry place to lay my head each night and food to sustain my appetite.
I have been blessed by an imperfect beautiful and intelligent wife who feels compelled to remain with an even more imperfect, not so handsome or clever husband.
I have been blessed by friends who may not understand me but whose opinions and encouragement I value.
I have been blessed by sufficient health and the ability to think and feel and through electronics a forum to share my thoughts and ask questions.
I enjoy blessings that others in the world might not be enjoying.
With privilege comes responsibility.
This is a lesson many wealthy individuals forget.
This is a lesson many politicians forget.
I have a number of friends whose political views I do not share.
I respect their opinions and would gladly defend their rights to express those opinions.
In Europe and America many people have been shocked by the rise of right wing parties riding waves of populism they managed to create.
No one could have predicted the rise of France’s Marine LePen or America´s Donald Trump or the resilence of political parties like Germany’s Alternative Party, Italy’s Lega Nord, Belgium’s Vlaam Blok, Austria’s Freedom Party or Switzerland’s Swiss People’s Party.
Brexit was unimaginable yet it happened.
Donald Trump becoming US President was even more inconceivable yet it has already been a month since his Inauguration.
They scream about the potential security threats of letting immigrants and refugees into their countries.
I sadly read of yesterday’s events in Lahore, Pakistan…
At least eight people have been killed and more than 30 others injured in an explosion that hit the Defence Y Block, which houses restaurants, offices and shops in a busy shopping area in Pakistan`s second-largest city.
Punjab police said it was a planted bomb, set on a timer or remotely detonated that caused the explosion.
The force of the explosion blew out the windows of surrounding buildings and cars, spraying them with shrapnel as people fled.
The Defence Y Block, part of the Defense Housing Authority, is controlled by the military with housing mainly given to people working for the armed forces.
Just one week prior to this, a suicide attack on a shrine in Pakistan killed at least 88 people and injured more than 250.
Above: The Sufi Shrine of Lal Shahbaz in Qalandar Sehwan, Pakistan, attacked on 16 February 2017
Two days before this a suicide bomber attacked a rally in Lahore, killing over a dozen people.
Above: Charing Cross, across from the Punjab Assembly, where the protestors had assembled on 13 February 2017
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the deaths, causing terror and distress across the country.
While the Western press have published the odd article about the attacks, the coverage goes no further…
There is no big front page reporting, no special emergency episodes of political podcasts, no trending #s, no Snapchat filters…
The Western media is so obsessed with what Donald Trump does and doesn´t say about potential security threats that they are ignoring the actual terror attacks going on.
Nationality, religion and race are the clear deciding factors in the media’s reporting of lives lost.
Western media and governments have a standard policy…
Terrorism isn’t worth mentioning unless it affects their own people and countries.
If there were the same number of terrorism victims in a similar attack in any Western country, the media and politicians would have respondly quickly and loudly.
The message is clear.
Western lives matter, but brown, black and non-Christian lives aren’t worthy of a story.
Pakistan`s terrorism problem can’t be ignored.
More than 80,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives since the 9/11 terror attacks.
Above: The flag of Pakistan
A total of four million Muslims have been killed in the war against terror.
Until we realise that all lives matter, that all lives deserve the same respect, regardless of race, wealth or creed, we will never be able to eradicate the threat of extremism which hangs over us all.
What happens in Nigeria, Turkey or Pakistan is no less important than what happens in America, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany or Switzerland.
Until we begin to care about life beyond our borders, not just for financial gain but for humanitarian reasons, mankind will never make much progress.
NASA recently announced the discovery of several Earthlike planets beyond our solar system, but I hope I don´t live to see the day mankind visits these planets or encounters alien life.
If we are unable to empathise with our fellow humans beyond our borders, surely we are not ready to explore the galaxy.