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  • iaindryden1


Yesterday afternoon we did something typically English, we went to the pantomime. All over the country communities have spent several months writing, rehearsing and then performing these light hearted midwinter theatrical events. Actors lightly mock inhabitants and knock leaders, be they local councillors or members of Parliament. If done well, they are a riot, when commercialised, they tend to be glitzy ego-trips for famous actors. In this performance, local teachers, members of the audience and our Prime Minister, were set before us to laugh at. Let’s hope the mirth reaches London, where a group of self-interested egos will decide my future, yours too if you happen to live in Britain. Don’t worry, this blog isn’t about Brexit but about you and me wherever we live in the world. To prove the point, I’m currently in the grip of ‘Infidel’, an extraordinary book by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali woman, and it reminds me of the instability and mistrust rife in many of the world’s countries. She eventually arrives in Europe and is boggled that we can trust our governments and police to look after us rather than kill us or rip us off. She is astounded that everything runs well and without the need for violence. She quickly notes that women are equal to men, that Westerners think of others, are kind, and not evil, licentious sub-creatures, as everyone she knew in Saudi and Somalia had said. Ayaan is not alone, many Muslim women have made the same remarks, including Joanna Palani, who wrote, ‘Freedom Fighter.’. Ayaan Hirsi’s views mirror my own experience, my having been brought up and worked in Kenya, lived in India and France, worked in The Maldives and the USA. To tease the police or government officials in some of these countries is a serious crime. Last week, BBC Radio4 went round several influential countries asking key people what they thought of us Brits. I expected derisory comments, but our social and intellectual freedoms, world-leading inventively and creativity, our outlook, Parliament, the mother of democracy, as well as many other things, were greatly admired, (even by Germany). Although we don’t think our political and legal systems are reliable and secure, individuals and businesses worldwide, including many from China, Russia and Arab countries, contest international legal cases in London rather than any where else. They also transact here because London is regarded as safe and a world-player. The negatives were really not that bad, almost non existent, but they did include a warped view of our economic and military importance (true of most countries, particularly France). That’s why we need to laugh at ourselves, which the French system finds it hard to understand.... Bitter experience has shown me that when facing ‘the system’, be it in Kenya, The Maldives and surprisingly, France, each of which has destroyed the life I’d built up, you can’t easily fight for your rights. This ought to be a right anywhere in the world and let’s hope that post-Brexit, we Brits won’t side with countries where this is not the case. Read Ayaan Hirsi’s autobiography and wake up to what we in ‘The West’ have achieved these past five hundred years. Achievements now threatened by our unprotected overtly liberal thinking. That Europe has taken this banner of fairness (and ecological sense) as its drive, is a powerful force for the world’s future. If only, though, it’d be more democratic, less dictatorial. Maybe, though, in this dire time when the Earth’s future looks bleak, we need such rule, monitored, of course, by great pantomime!

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