Sunday, 7 September 2014

One for All......

David Cameron urged NATO countries not to pay ransoms to secure the release of kidnapped citizens. To do so, he said, was "totally counter productive". Apparently these ransom sums, although securing the release of someone's son or daughter, someone's father or sister, someone's friend or lover....someone, anyone; although it did this thing in securing and saving a life. A full life. Someone's life. Although it did this, it also contributed to terrorism as this money funded that activity which is a threat to the common good, to our national security. I have tried to understand that logic and to a degree, a very cold and dispassionate degree I can see its academic force. Indeed I have seen several very good sci fi movies premised upon that utopian and powerful premise of  'the common good'.  I remember one in particular about a society denied any passion. - music, art, poetry, prose etc to ensure the harmonious propagation of our species; to ensure there was no one individual worth more than the whole.

Am I alone in being utterly traumatised by what is being urged upon our fellow NATO chums by Mr Cameron? Am I seriously alone in having the deepest and most terrifying anxieties about Mr Cameron's righteous pronouncements? Kidnapping is no longer a game; it's no longer a political chess move. Mr Foley's brutal execution that was video recorded for all to see demonstrated that in ways previously unwitnessed by normal citizens like you or I. Citizens who might be Mr. Foley's mum or dad.  His lover or friend. I mean no offence to Mr Cameron, genuinely I don't, but it's not his children in a video about to be beheaded with a kitchen knife. And we have just recently learned that our government and Mr Cameron himself have known 'for some time' that IS have a British citizen hostage. He is apparently the next poor soul to have his head hacked from his neck. It is important to me at least that this is the context in which Mr Cameron has urged, in effect, that we all set our face to the wind....don't give in and let a hacked and hideous beheading be just that. Because we don't give in to terrorism.

Er.....hold on.  This next victim, this British citizen. Who asked for none of this and has no hope in the world but his country, his government and his faith. And most, no hope but in his Prime Minister. This man....we don't even know his name. This man.  Are you not giving him a name so in so depersonalising him he becomes just a number? Well, this number means something to me. This number should be the most precious prime number to any of us. It is in definable, unquantifiable. It is the value of a life. It is the length to which a nation state should go to protect one of its own. It is the length to which a nation state HAS gone to protect one of its own, when that 'one' is all. No person's life is worth less than another's. Mr Cameron's pronouncement effectively, and I hope this is not harsh...effectively says to our unknown citizen 'keep your chin up' as the blade penetrates his throat. It says to his mother and father (and I, like Mr Cameron am a father) 'sorry.  We could save your son's life, but don't you see? It would be madness.  We don't give in to terrorists. We have to think of the greater good'.

Understand. I do. I do get the politics.  I see the rationale. If it were my daughter? Fuck you. Fuck all of you. My daughter is NOT a number. She is a life. She is my life. And what does my country owe me? Owe her?  At the very least? If nothing else? Her life. Her life. Her life. At any cost. Because that cost has no number, is not quantifiable and is only measurable by the value required to secure it.

Mr  British Unknown, my heart truly bleeds for you as, like Christ on the cross at the hideous end, you will surely say of your country 'why have you forsaken me'? And I am afraid I am by no means certain that any answer will justify the image of your decapitated corpse that will no doubt be posted for your government, your loved ones and for all.  In fact, let me retract that last statement. The truth is that I am absolutely certain that nothing will justify such an image, such an eventuality.

Wake up. Wake up all of us. A policy of 'no payment for release' was fine when dealing with Time not Death. In a world where the terrorists, or ship robbers just kept their quarry captive. They didn't hack their heads off with pen knives. This is now a different world and one in which policies must change. If we can afford with all our riches to save a single life we should. We should.  We should. You all know full well we should. If it was my daughter on my life we would. If it was Mr Cameron's son.......I suspect we would.

Mr British Unknown, you are not a number. You are someone's son. Your life has as much value as mine. As my daughter's as anyone's. I would give every penny I had to secure your release. I wish to believe that our community too would do just the same rather than watch your beheading on Youtube.   I am ashamed to my core that the government we have elected are not only prepared to pothsumously pour over the video of your decapitated body for authentication, but before the event urge other countries to visit upon their citizens the same as, god forbid, awaits you.

Sometimes a nation is defined not by the sacrifice of the one for the whole. Sometimes a decision is lauded not for its consequence but for its intention. Sometimes the protection of the smallest right stands firm against the hugest wrong it gives birth to. When Kennedy said 'ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country'....there were those, just numbers to most of us today, who heeded that calling and gave their lives. Numbers. Just numbers. But not to those left counting the costs. And to my mind, if a country can call on one, then one can and should be able to call on country. Because that is who we are.  Who we want to be. We say to all our kith and kin, each and every one of our citizens 'ask what we can do for you'. Mr Cameron, you should pay for the life of our British captive as if it were your own. You should fight government and country to pay for it as if for the life of your child. Or mine. And but for the grace of God it could be either.  Do we negotiate with terrorists today? No. But should we? You decide which side of that fence you are on. I know where I am. And where you should be.