Friday 1 August 2014

On Gaza: Show. Don’t tell.

Those of us of a literary bent know that in our work we must show, and not tell. I can still hear my MA Creative Writing tutor – an elegant English writer – reiterating this to us all time and again as students during our course. Amongst other points pertaining to literary discourse, to show and not tell is to demonstrate through the work: don’t spell it out, repeat or over describe. And for goodness sake, don’t lecture your reader.

With all the feeling that is being poured out left and right (pun intended) on Facebook and other sites regarding the current Israeli/Gaza conflict, and as a basic principle, this course of action may well be heeded. We are all entitled to our opinions, though I think we all need to try and do our research as much as possible, myself included. An emotive response of moral outrage before gathering all the information available to us – though we are all at the mercy of journalists to some capacity and their inevitable biases, to some extent – should be the normative course of action.

We need to apologise when we get things wrong and move on, though I have no desire to be ironic and sound ‘lectury’ myself, or sound ‘holier than thou,’ I often get things wrong and am as passionate about my beliefs as the next person, but perhaps a deep breath, and a count to three before taking the plunge might help – I am learning to take this advice myself - happily I have someone in my life who dispenses wisdom in this area, without being patronising – a skill in itself!

When engaging in debate, I suggest we show – by demonstrating with facts, (alongside our well thought out argument - not fighting!) why we support as we do. Attacking, demeaning and, the most silly of all – ‘de-friending’ on Facebook, does not help support one’s argument and does not encourage serious debate  it may even make you look like a silly banana with a wonky cap on with scribbles for features. Inevitably, mistakes will be made – what with all the inaccurate statistics and photos from other wars and so on being circulated willy-nilly in the press and online.

This is not a war between ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys,’ there are good people being caught up in the conflict and paying a price too high, through no fault of their own as with the recent Malaysian Airlines MH17 tragedy, and the plight of the Christians (and others) in Iraq; and there are ‘bad guys’ and ‘good guys’ involved on both sides. There are as ever, very many grey areas. I am firmly ‘on side’ with my beliefs, though I try to be clear-eyed when ‘my side’ acts disproportionately or unfairly - in my view, -which I have to admit, is limited as I am not on the ground, as it were. And though your view may be different to mine, I respect your right to air it, however cloudy I might suspect it; I respect freedom of speech and I respect democracy. I do not want to live in a dictatorship where I am told ‘believe as I do’ or you are 'a dimwit, a moron, or even dead,' if some folks get their way.

Having said that, I am all for good-natured satire, but there is no need for further hostilities. There is enough of that already.