Friday 19 December 2014

Defeat Terrorism: Support Education

Reading is important to me. But current affairs and politics are, too. So, another off-topic, non-book-review blog post.

The terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar was a horrifying event.

I don't for a moment believe that it is not within the power of mankind (or just the Global North / Western Powers / wealthy nations) to solve the problem of terrorism. They've simply been doing it wrong. So, what would I do if I ran the USA / EU / UN?

Whenever some despicable excuses for men (or, theoretically, women) massacre school children or students for daring to get an education, I'd pump truckloads of funding into humanitarian projects that build, run, fund, and provide safe education. I wouldn't promise in advance how much (after all, I would not want to end up setting a bonus price on killing kids), but I'd be very vocal afterwards about how much money is going to region X to fund things as a result of the attack. And I'd make damn sure that any child's life lost would be repaid with 100, or even 1000 disadvantaged children getting a quality education.  Because education is what the terrorists are really afraid of. Education gives people prospects, questioning minds, and some agency towards determining their own futures. It isn't a magical cure for poverty, oppression and despair - but it's the most powerful tool we have. Terrorism thrives on despair: that's why those who dedicate themselves to terror fear education, and why, disproportionately, they target schools. (Especially girls' schools have been subjected to many, many attacks)

I don't run the USA, EU, or the UN. Still, even as nothing more than an individual citizen, I'll make a start. I solemnly pledge that, henceforth, each time I hear of an attack on kids seeking education, whether in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, or anywhere else, I'll donate money to a charity that benefits education in that area. I'll donate as much as I can afford at that time. In this instance, I am giving to the Malala Fund. Please join me, or share the idea.

It's only a tiny drop in the ocean, but big things can start with small seeds. People power can make this grow. Sadly, I am very, very short on whuffie, but when an idea is ripe, others will think alike.

If you read this blog post, and you agree with it, please share it, or the Huffington Post article, and/or please consider giving money to a charity of your choice. Allow yourself to dream: what if hundreds, or thousands, or even millions of people gave a small amount of money after each attack? What if, collectively, we decided to fight back against guns and rabid insanity with safe spaces and text books for the next generation? I'll tell you what would happen. Despair would fade, poverty would reduce, and the age of terrorism would pass.


  • Malala Fund is US-based, so if you live in the UK, you may want to seek out a UK charity to boost your donation via GiftAid. Something like Learning for Life would be a good alternative, but their links with Pakistan and Afghanistan are historical & their current focus is in Bangladesh and Nepal... if you know a charity focusing on education work in Pakistan, please suggest it in the comments. For regular donations & child sponsorship, Plan might be worth considering.
  • I'd also recommend the following article: Who is responsible for the Pakistan school massacre? It makes a lot of interesting points. Some of it is a little far-fetched (the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs funded report seems a bit paranoid / convinced in big evil conspiracies), but even if you disregard those bits, there are very strong indications that US funding and policies in that region have been counterproductive (to say the least). 
  • I can't claim coming up with the idea of counteracting terrorism with funding charities that, in the long run, will help reduce terror: I was partially inspired by the citizens of Wunsiedel and their response to annual Nazi marchers, who decided to stop fighting evil protests with protests of their own, and instead fund good (anti-evil) causes whenever the evil march takes place, thereby making evil counter-productive.

Don't Despair

At the start of the week, Malala Yousafzai collected her Nobel Peace Prize. As painful as it was to hear of the events in Peshawar, this week actually began with a Pakistani teenage girl campaigning for children's rights and education in front of the whole world

It's worth remembering that, too.

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