First the good news …
Support for the Forces Hospital Charity site I set up and maintain with help from Richard for our friend Inspector Rob Williams is gaining momentum. So far we have raised Â£8500 which is phenomenal. I’m really looking forward to the Plane Pull and the 14 mile walk on Saturday, I think it’s going to be memorable. Check out the Sponsor and Donor pages to see how many Oranisations have come out to support this cause and to each of them I offer my thanks.
… then the not so good.
Some people have felt the need to question why I, a Muslim, have chosen to support a charity that attempts to aid the very soldiers that are killing our brothers and sisters abroad. Ordinarily I would respond by saying that its a personal choice, and leave it at that (and tell them where to go – diplomacy isn’t always one of my strong points). Yet some of the vitriol that has been leveled at me by people trying to post comments on this blog has led me to think carefully about a slightly more reasoned response. I don’t seek to justify why I live my life the way that I do … but I do want dispel a few myths I think that a few of you are living under.
The charity that I’m supporting is seeking to build a garden, that’s all! A small recreational place to provide an area where families can visit their wounded sons and daughters in relative comfort. This charity isn’t supporting an ideology, or a political stand point or seeking to justify the presence of British troops in any theater of combat anywhere in the world. It’s seeking to provide comfort for a group of men and women who have, regardless of their personal or political views, tried to perform their duty to their country and in doing so have suffered serious injuries.
The members of our armed forces do not have the luxury of choosing where they fight, or against whom. We don’t live in a society where we allow our soldiers to make those decisions, that’s what governments do. That’s partly why we call it democracy. It’s also why it’s important, during elections, for us to consider who it is we are voting for and whether those individuals will honestly represent our views or whether they’ll charge right in simply because an American President insists that they do. I’d be interested to know how many Labour Muslim Members of Parliament actually voted against the government when the issue of whether we should deploy troops in Iraq was first put before the Commons. Perhaps if some of them had taken a stance more in keeping with the views of their constituents rather than voting in a certain way because they were afraid to incur the wrath of the Party Whip and in doing so limit their own political future – well perhaps then more could have been done to sway the government at the time.
It’s also important to remember that the same troops deployed in Iraq today could be deployed elsewhere in the world tomorrow serving a completely different role, like helping to deliver aid to places devastated by natural disasters or in peace keeping roles as part of UN deployments. From working with troops I know that the vast majority are decent men and women trying to do their best, in what are often very stressful and demanding situations … yet it’s easy for us to sit here and forget that they are still just human beings.
I can’t help but believe that in as much as it was our lack of humanity that has gotten us into the mess we are in … it is only our humanity that can hope to rescue us from it.
That’s why I’m supporting my friends on Saturday … for no reason other than that Hope.
I hope you can understand that.
I hope you can respect that.