At my grand big age of 39, I still remember a time when significant world news would come in trickles and take some weeks, months and years to digest before we would hear the next big story or see the next big iconic photo-image that would come to symbolise our experiences of a history shared. Certain transformational events would also come to bond people of specific generational gaps at the level of the collective consciousness.
But, today, even taking into account the ease of instant communication, truly dramatic world events seem to be happening fast that I can hardly keep up. Even as I read my morning paper, I know that something bigger and more significant is going on each morning that is a click away online via Twitter, Facebook and the hundreds of other digital news outlets.
There really is no chance to properly inform myself by the end of the day or make sense of it entirely. Considering that I also need to sleep, I can just about take in the news that directly affects or impacts on me as an Arab woman living in London. I’ve also gotten into the habit of checking the BBC World News page multiple times a day to catch up with what else is involving - or more like implicating! - my people of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Last Week May’s Rollercoaster Events
In one week alone, the Vatican Pope Francis went on an important visit to Holy Jerusalem, embracing - with his now trademark tactile warmth – all three Abrahamic faiths and praying for peace. He did not fear criticism by ensuring to cater his time and efforts to both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and inviting both Presidents to visit him in Rome to attempt a solution. Lo and behold, they have both accepted! I applaud this courage and who knows, maybe he will be able to perform magic and succeed where many others before him have terribly failed.
Involving MENA, also, a new Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi came to power with a 93% vote of a 45% voter turnout. He manifested after the Muslim Brotherhood’s stint in government saw them lose support as they abysmally failed to listen to what the Egyptians wanted. Whether or not Al-Sisi can bring the desperately needed political stability, economic recovery and peace to his country will take a while to show, but the story continues to unfold like a grand old soap-opera.
Moving on to Libya, my country was experiencing more mayhem, chaos and political confusion as Islamist radicals are attempting to hijack our popular revolution. Not only have they infiltrated the weak futile government, they have also been killing and targeting individuals who are against their ideology - for no other reason than having a differing opinion. These terrorists seem eager to take away the Libyan’s freedom of speech which has only recently been acquired.
But wait… With the zero security in the land and the danger of so many groups and militias armed, a new figure enters the stage – in the form of a General Khalifa Haftar – promising to save the day, but also with seeming force and aggression. We, who are without weapons and no political clout, can only observe hopelessly on as our country’s future is being determined as accord feels to be unattainable.
The only conclusion I am left with is that the Arab Spring has turned into an Arab Volcano…
Move Over, The US President Is On TV Making A Promise!
If all this wasn’t enough to keep my short-term memory working, I turned on the TV one night and there was the US President Barak Obama proposing a $5billion budget for a ‘Counter-Terrorism Partnership Fund (CTPF)’ as part of global “efforts to counter violent extremism and terrorist ideology”. Although not grabbing too much air attention, he did mention Syria, Libya, Yemen and Mali - so I wonder how this will eventually translate into practical action and whether or not a World War III will soon be played out in the MENA region.
Not To Mention Europe?!?
Not to be outdone, Europe last week evidenced a historic shift in the EU Parliamentary elections, whereby the 28 member states elected MEPs opposed to the EU project and its foundational rationale! For the UK, UKIP won more seats in the Euro Parliament than any other party; and, like it or not, this signals a potential transformation of the future of the Union that will have great impact on our lives as Euro citizens.
Where On Earth Are We Heading?
With so information no longer coming but ‘striking’ at us left, right and centre, I fear that we are losing the capacity for patience and have developed the very bad habit of acting and manoeuvring too rashly without taking a minute to reflect properly on one thing at a time. By so doing, we are forfeiting the intrinsic value of that one thing at a time.
And, so, we keep heading straight into one form of disaster from another and unto the next and the next, with response from those in power and charge also being demanded too quickly through a new global love for mass and frequent protests, demonstrations and online trending. I believe we have become acclimatised to fast-moving world drama with the only problem being that this drama is real and we are not gaining any necessary closure.
The only time it seems to really hurt is when the news involves us personally or our families, friends and country. Otherwise, we’ve become zombies with selective news amnesia; but, admittedly, if we had to genuinely feel for everyone and every moving story, we’d all be in need of support group therapies. I so truly miss the past and its slow gentle pace.