what is one to do?

today there was lots of trivia on offer. in my spanish class, the last half hour was spent on a history lesson (in spanish) on how the sephardic jews were expelled from iberia in 1492, following the Spanish Inquisition. (oh, the excesses of the catholic church then.) In france, there have been 9 days of riots, and the whole french lesson was spent debating the plight of those in the H.L.Ms in the banlieu. And I guess I'll try to find a copy of La Haine which is about this sort of subject matter.

So I definitely have views on immigrants and integration into society, and what should be done, but I think they are not very well-formed. And on jews, today as I was walking into school along Houghton Street, someone put up a booth where they had mock soldiers dressed up as Israelis bullying Palestinian refugees. I thought it was distasteful. Distasteful why? Because you don't want the truth shoved in your face?

We are educated, and like it or not I guess we have a responsibility. In the comfort of whereever we are learning we have a chance to read about many issues and think about broader things than when to get our next meal (which, if you ask the people who stand around selling the big issue in the cold, is quite important). and we learn all these stories, issues from history, and sometimes we are motivated to take action. you know, do something. and there's a quote somewhere from a us president to say that the worse thing one can do is to do nothing. so effort ought to be rewarded, or properly criticised, at least.

but i just found the entire booth a bit upsetting. and i think i know why. because demonstrating issues in such a way just promotes hate? look at all this evil people. something must be stopped. they torture and kill innocent kids. let's hate all these motherfuckers. i wonder how someone who was israeli must feel. was the purpose for them to feel guilt? shame? it's a sensitive subject i can't claim to know much about, but I do know there are plenty of israelis who just want peace and are willing to make it happen. but there are so many more sensitivities that go beyond who's killing who.

across the road there were people asking for bone marrow transplants. there's only a 1 in 200,000 chance of finding a match, they said. come, join us, donate a bone marrow. therein lies a possibility. donate bone marrow... hmm, okay, where do i go, what do i do? that room over there, take a blood test. sounds easy enough. if it's a match, we'll call you, and it'll just take some time and discomfort. fair enough.

life saved, or maybe not. but its what one man can do. (or send an sms or email to a local mp, etc, as the makepovertyhistory campaign is trying to do.) now, how do i end conflict in the middle east. give me a gun, i'll shoot all the people who did wrong. when there's no wrong people left, well it must be right. (thinking promoted by confrontational approach). go on hunger strike? write letters to your local mp?

so if i don't believe in your cause, don't call me apathetic. (oh, another apathetic singaporean, so the story goes.) i swear that is probably what puts me off any course in history and international relations right now. the subject matter is, if you can use the word "interesting", but i dislike all this endless debate on war, who's right, and who's wrong. i guess it gives you a good ethical framework on which to make your informed choices as a democratic citizen, or in some higher capacity in officialdom. which is lovely, but which i think more and more is not for me. passion is important, but it isn't everything. there is a little corner of the world where there exists, logic, reason, justice and rightly so. you want passion, you want revenge? that's your car in flames. even the doctors who have to detach themselves from their patients are doing good. and if you think about it, maybe we are a poorer world that charm and style do end up dominating arguments.

and in any problem. it is the players themselves who have the largest responsibility to solve them. it sounds obvious enough, but yes, there's outside help, and pre-requisites which if not existing could be made into being. but there are just some things one cannot ask of an individual, that only an individual or the group of people involved can decide for themselves, because their interests are at stake.

i am always worried about blogging over thoughts like these. it would be better if i told everyone that i like purple fireworks more than green ones, and i enjoy it much more. plus, if i suddenly told you i like green fireworks more, no one would crucify me.

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