The Good News

In the 21st century, information is so readily available that we are constantly flooded with the latest news about the most horrifying events in the world – violence in Syria, Ebola in West Africa, shootings and most recently terrorist attacks.

The recent attack on Charlie Hedbo has been splashed across the front page, and people all over Facebook are posting about the horrors created by the Book Haram.

You see the thing is, I’m a debater. The implication of this is that for 5 years I have tirelessly followed all of it – from when the Dewani incident first happened, to the London riots and drama in Crimea. I’m also one of those overly empathetic people, so these stories really had a depressing impact on me. I was especially shocked senseless when the first 200 odd Nigerian girls were abducted.

While it is very important to know what’s going on in the world to understand the context in which we live and operate, I can’t help but wonder if it’s all worth it. I mean all that heart break, just to be well informed and to sound intellectual in conversation. The other thing that worries me is becoming acclimatised to violence and horror. I mean, if we’re constantly reading about murder and poverty, surely we get used to it and don’t empathise as much (just think of how eager everyone was to see photos of the dead Bin Laden).

So recently, I’ve decided to distance myself slightly from all of it. It’s not that I don’t think these people’s stories are unimportant (quite the contrary). But a 600 word article isn’t going to encompass what they’re feeling.

There is too much bad news in the world. And I challenge everyone else in the world, not to take I detox like I might be doing, but to balance it out with good news. I think we forget about the good news in the world. I often like to think that for each terrorist, or murder, there are hundreds of kind people. People who work hard to put their children through school. People who hold the door open for you. People who smile at you even though they don’t know you. People who are always there to talk to you, who care about you – friends, family.

So this post is my rebellion to the sadness. While my thoughts are with those suffering, my thoughts are also hoping they see the happiness in the world, because we’re only human and sometimes we need that to get through life.

I guess you could call this my expression of free speech (#JeSuisCharlie , how on-trend), but I’d rather you just think of it as a way to remind you of all the good news in the world. So smile. Send out love. Look up at the clouds and the trees. Hear the birds singing: because THAT’S what gets people through the horrifying moments in life.

#BringBackOurGirls

Gender equality has been a consistent struggle for women globally, right from the Suffragette movement, through first wave feminist to Malala Yousafsai of today. The thing is, it’s getting tricker. The movement is no longer about white, middle-class housewives trying to be free from oppression from their husband. With women empowerment n the 21st century, questions of cultural relevance and religion are always in constant debate.

 

This is one of the main reasons that extremist organisations make me so angry: they misrepresent what religions truly stand for. For example, and what this post is specifically about, Islam: it is a religion based on love which pursuit of knowledge, yet organisations like the Boko Haraam stop girls from going to school “in the name of Islam” – it’s so twisted.

 

When I first heard that the girls had been abducted, the first thing I thought is that it could have happened to me. We do not choose our circumstances. I am lucky enough to go to an all girls’ school safely, but I could have just as easily been born into a country threatened by a terrorist organisation.

 

Education is a right to all – regardless of race, religion or social status. We can’t just let these girls be oppressed for trying to fulfill a basic right. In January I read ‘I Am Malala’ and it was really shocking how the Taliban had very similar ideologies to the Boko Haraam. It’s the 21st century and people still believe that women do not deserve equal rights – this is saddening.

 

Subsequently, I’ve watched a snippet of that video that the Boko Haraam leader put out, and I think that the girls are being used as political weapons as well as symbols of backward beliefs. The group has given Goodluck Jonathan an offer of releasing the girls on the condition that currently imprisoned Boko Haraam members are released. Since when is it okay to let almost 200 young humans act as bargaining agents?

I feel like global diplomatic action needs to be escalated.

 

What has been inspiring, however, is the social action taken by civilians, specifically in my direct community. I’ve seen my own school explode with passion regarding the issue – tweeting #BringBackOurGirls intensively, as well as making posters. We’ve also attracted a lot of media attention!

As well as this, the G(irls) 20 Summit delegation that I’m a part of has taken social awareness action on Facebook. Angie Motshekga, South Africa’s minister of Basic Education, has also be quite action (as she told us when she visited our school on Friday) as she has created a petition… Sign it! http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ancwl-bringbackourgirls-safely-now

 

So, I hope these girls are okay. I hope they get rescued soon. As for the rest of us: why not take a few moments to be grateful that we live in a free society, and let’s use that to help those not as lucky.