Brian Haw – purposefully stubborn to end innocent deaths

Written by Suraj Shah.

Love, Peace, Justice, Stop killing my kids.

For 10 years, peace campaigner Brian Haw sat firm in Parliament Square, helping London’s people, politicians and the global community at large increase awareness about the hundreds of people dying every day in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, killed as a result of greed, deluded fear and ignorance.

Brian didn’t want to stay away from his family for so long (his wife eventually divorced him), but he remained at his tent in Parliament Square, nomatter how much physical abuse he had to endure from drunks and thugs, endless harrassment from the police, or eviction attempts by Westminster Council.

Keen observers from around the world would film and photograph Brian and would ask how he slept. “Badly…”, he would respond, “how would you sleep if 200 babies were dying every day?” They fussed over how he ate (mostly chips and sugar-loaded coffee bought by people who visited him or were passing by). When he talked, he sounded tired… tired of people not taking responsibility for the inhumanness of their fellow man. (source: The Economist)

Regardless of how he slept, how he ate, how tired and worn he was, he would not move from his campaign spot in Parliament Square. However, in March 2011, a high court ruling by London’s mayor forced him to move his camp to the pavement. A few months later, Brian Haw died in Germany where he was receiving medical treatment for lung cancer.

In a tribute to the peace campaigner, a member of parliament noted: “Brian Haw’s 10 years of 24/7 protest in all weather against the futile wars in Iraq / Helmund deserves the nation’s thanks and admiration.”

Brian had lived in Worcestershire with his wife Kay and seven children before starting his protest in Parliament Square. he had said the children of Iraq and other countries were “every bit as valuable and worthy of love as my precious wife and children.” He added: “I want to go back to my own kids and look them in the face again, knowing that I’ve done all I can to try and save the children of Iraq and other countries who are dying because of my government’s unjust, amoral, fear – and money-driven policies.”

Can we take lessons of love, compassion, and firm resolution from Brian’s life? Can we see the world’s children as our own? How far do the qualities of friendship and compassion extend for each of us? What are we willing to do to speak on behalf of those facing violence and death due to our own ignorance?

(Photo courtesy of David Martyn Hunt)

Making the most of a sunny day

Written by Suraj Shah.

Things change.
Day to day, things change.
Moment to moment, things change.

It’s almost the end of June, but recently the days have been mostly cold and wet.

Today’s an exception. It’s gorgeous. The sun is shining strong, the air is warm, and yet there is a slight cool breeze. Perfect.

Some say that Britain is experiencing a mini heatwave this weekend, and by Tuesday it will be cold and wet again. They say the forecast does not look good.

Perhaps that’s why, rather than hearing so many complaints about the heat, almost everyone is outdoors and making the most of this sunny Sunday:

  • birds are chirping.
  • flies are having a field day in the garden.
  • the occasional butterfly if fluttering by.
  • kids are riding their bikes.
  • neighbours are painting fences and moving lawns.

It seems that everyone is making the most of this sunny day, perhaps because they know it will not last.

Neighbours have washed and hung out their clothes and sheets since the early morning, capitalising on the warmth from the sun to dry their clothes.

Friends on Facebook report loading their cars up with their families and heading to Brighton to enjoy time at the beach, or the local park, or to meet their brothers and sisters who have invited them over for a barbecue.

You just can’t ask for better weather on a Sunday.

But it won’t last – the sun will go, the rains will come, happiness and fun will be replaced with misery and complaints.  It’s what the forecast says, and they never get it wrong, do they?

Even now as I sit here to write at the dining table, with the patio doors wide open to enjoy the bright sun and the warm air blended with the cool breeze, a jet aeroplane thunders through the skies above my head, making it’s way over to the local RAF base.  The peaceful sound of the birds chirping has been rocked by the roar of the jet.

Things change.  Day to day, things change.  Moment to moment, things change.

Knowing this is perhaps the reason we make the most of a sunny day.

(Photo courtesy of kooklanekookla)

Who is looking back at me?

Poem written by Suraj Shah.

… and why do I hold these things so dear?

Looking in the mirror, straight into my own eyes,
Dare I keep looking at myself, caught up in these toxic lies.
Who is looking back at me?  How long will he be here?
Who is he, really, and why is there so much fear?

Here today but gone tomorrow, we all know that,
We are reminded about it time and again, as a matter of fact.
Who is looking back at me?  How long will he be here?
Who is he, really, and when will it become clear?

Immersed in the changing, by what will be no more,
To save my soul, I must learn, to simply shut the door.
Who is looking back at me?  How long will he be here?
Who is he, really, and why do I hold these things so dear?

This body and it’s relationships, though permanent we think,
Is but no more than an illusion, will vanish within a blink!
Who is looking back at me?  How long will he be here?
Who is he, really, and how do I attend to what is near?

The indulgence of the body, the attachment to my and mine,
Releasing control gently, surrendering it to the divine.
Who is looking back at me?  How long will he be here?
“Who is he, really?” is the ultimate question to persevere.

Listen to the poem "Who is looking back at me?"

(Photo courtesy of kirainet)