Never take your freedom for granted. There are so many around the world dying for such privileges. If you should turn your eye for even a second, you may discover that it has been snatched away in a blink.
Be engaged in your world, be vigilant and always fight for the values you believe in strongly. Beneficial change never comes from apathy. Rather, apathy is the poison from which so much bad begins to seed.
Define your freedom and overcome all tyranny which would deny it. Equally, abandon ideologies that enforce tyranny upon others.
The right kind of freedom manifests out of mutual understanding and respect, acts of compassion, the willingness to share and the termination of greed. It is when people’s fundamental human rights are not impinged upon, so that they may live full, secure, happy lives with their families. It is when the voice of those with grievances can speak out without fear. It is in the ability to be able to participate in choosing the direction of a community or country through fair, honest elections. To be able to soar in creative endeavours and utilise fully our talents. To be a part of something that enhances the world positively. It is in knowing that our life means something.
We face uncertain, turbulent times, and everyone must be alert and participate in creating a future that is more just, fair, ecologically sensible and free.
– El-Branden Brazil
Photography by El-Branden Brazil
When I was young, I had fanciful notions that perhaps, one day on earth, world peace could be achieved. Now that I am mature, I recognise the value of contrasting ideas. Indeed, contrasting ideas are the fuel of any civilisation. As Hegel was aware, it is in the conflict of a thesis versus an antithesis, the fruition of synthesis (new ideas) are born. Thankfully, most can have conflict of thoughts that go no further than just argumentative discourse. However, the most extreme expression of opinions is war.
The reality is that for civilisation to continue being vibrant, progressive and dynamic, in contrast to being sterile, stagnant and uniformed, expressions of rebuke and rebellion, including war, are an inevitable part of the human condition. It doesn’t mean I like it, but rather I accept it. The Universe is both a place of great beauty and great violence, and we are an inseparable part of this equation. Like a river, there will always be times of calm and turbulence, varying in length and intensity.
As that may be, I find it worthwhile to try to contribute in whatever way, towards encouraging positions of peace, calm and non-violence, in an attempt to quell unnecessary suffering and conflict. There is always an alternative to violence, and those heated by passion and anger, must be reminded so. No blood need be drawn for any ideological posture we uphold. We must ALL hold paramount the sanctity and quality of ALL life, even with those we disagree with.
A random moment allowed me to be conceived. I gestated in the womb of my mother for nine months, unaware of the life that awaited me outside. On the day I was born, I breathed my first breath. As time passed, the world slowly came into focus, as I gained the awareness that comes with growing pains.
In my teens, my place in the vast universe became apparent. I would sit out in my parent’s garden, on cool British summer evenings, staring at the seemingly endless starry sky above. Sometimes, I felt a cold loneliness. Whilst at other times, a sense of oneness.
As I continued to mature, I began to sense and question deeply the social restrictions enforced upon me by individuals I did not know, but who seemed to think they were empowered to control my destiny; my brief, fleeting moment at existing. I looked around, and saw so many of my colleagues and friends accepting this status-quo, as if it had been written in the very fabric of space and time. That life should be routine, rigid and monotonous. That it was okay and expected that during our brief moment to live, we should commit our precious time to endless commuting to workplaces, embrace soul-crushing conformity and the conditions laid out by companies, whose only interest are profits and how best to enslave us, without us noticing. Their trick, to just barely reward our efforts adequately with nothing more than pieces of paper, we are told to be of some worth.
In this twisted vision, so devoid of any connection to true reality and the long-forgotten cyclical rhythms of the precious planet, we wallow in the madness of greed, dependency and apathy, whilst the elite continues to grow ever more powerful, gorging itself sickeningly upon the spoils of its victories.
And let us not forget, how easily young men and women are sent to their deaths upon a distant battlefield, that those manipulating reality will never see with their own eyes, or be prepared to spill their own blood upon. They will just sit comfortably, monitoring and collecting data about the legions that we make, imprisoning and questioning anyone whose eyes have been opened.
The present world order is a rigged game, created by a few. It doesn’t have to be this way. This is OUR world! We have a birth given right to do what we wish with her, and that should be to do nothing, other than to realign ourselves with her rhythms again. To respect her. To share her fairly, so that no one need starve again or live in horrendous poverty.
As Machiavelli pointed out in The Prince, a king can only be a king if the people allow him to be. Of course, the king will try to coax and manipulate the loyalties of his subjects, through either rewards or punishment. But, the people will always have the power. They just need awakening.
ISIS is behaving like the Khmer Rouge, but on a much larger global stage. Their brutality needs to be stopped quickly.
More than the acts of terrorism, it is the aims of ISIS that scares me. There is a very strong chance that if nothing is done, this savage caliphate will take root and spread its tendrils throughout the Middle-East and perhaps beyond. What kind of society do these beasts wish to achieve, after their caliphate is established upon the blood and bones of so many innocents, killed horrifically? I do not use words like “evil” lightly, but as with the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge before, ISIS absolutely is a manifestation of evil, demonstrating the most depraved and perverted aspects of humanity.
I am extremely concerned about the global ramifications ISIS will bring. Unfortunately, it is just one component of a rapidly deteriorating global arena, where crises of great magnitude are springing up, all symptomatic of a general malaise that can be felt across the world. I wish to be optimistic, but I find it harder and harder, as the environment continues to be damaged with little genuine efforts to abate it. It feels like we are fatalistically slipping back into the Dark Ages, lead by leaders more concerned with the fantasies promulgated by corporations and economics, rather than driven by true vision to propel and improve humanity.
Currently, no one in power is brave enough to implement bold ideas to lead humanity towards a brighter future, that are both socially and most importantly, ecologically beneficial.
We can all feel the rot in the current system, desperately fantasising about what could be. In the meantime, whilst we both hold onto the memory of past glories, as well as fumble without vision towards the future, violent radicalism, such as ISIS, is manifesting their extremist beliefs in the ideological vacuum we have left. It seems for the time being, however bloody, they are succeeding in ways that we are not. I find it truly perplexing and tragic that young Europeans, particularly Brits, are being drawn to the front lines in Syria and Iraq, to fight for an ideology of extreme barbarism. That they should find beheadings and the slaughter of children more appealing than what is offered at home.
We need to find a way to share values that can be universally embraced, and that will neutralise the appeal that the current spate of extremism seems to have for some. We must be better than bombs and guns. We must lead by example and show that compassion and love for all trumps violence always, whilst never forgetting the finiteness of our time on this precious planet that we share.