Monday, 15 October 2012

Finding zen amidst human lows

UN worker details human rights abuses committed by warlords and tribal leaders in Afghanistan

Living overseas, it is often hard to gets books when they are first published so I was delighted to read this review of  Marianne Elliott's,  'Zen Under Fire' by Margaret Hayman. Elliot  supports what I and many others have been saying for  yers, when she seriously questions the international involvement in Afghanistan. It is my strong view that foreign i ntervention only delays the inevitable outcome, a Government of the people.

 Marianne Elliott, author of 'Zen Under Fire', was assigned to Afghanistan as a UN human rights officer in 2006.
In the book she gives a professional and personal account of the war-ravaged country where her job was to record human rights abuses, collect good evidence of the crimes and provide appropriate training and support to police and prosecutors in laying charges and bringing the perpetrators to court.
This work was in a societal context where people are in considerable danger, warlords and tribal leaders conspire to control land, drug-trade profits, and gain access to foreign money while spreading fear among ordinary people. It is a well-written and gripping read.
Marianne has an almost overwhelming sense of guilt about the tragic consequences for particular victims of rights abuses which she couldn't prevent.
She also seriously questions the international involvement in Afghanistan.
This is the story of her search for personal resilience which she needs to carry on her work, and the ability to accept what she can't achieve.
She learns to value what is possible in the circumstances, even if it is simply listening to, and recording, women's stories of abuse at the hands of their families.
At the personal level, she discovers painfully, that a partner cannot meet all of our needs all of the time.
Our strength is drawn by the sum of our bonds with good friends, colleagues, partners, family and other intimate relationships. By working together, empowering each other, and listening to others, we can resolve difficult issues.
Hers is a story of hope. Marianne is immensely impressed with integrity and commitment to fairness and to the peaceful future of their country that she found among her Afghan colleagues.
They treat one another, and the victims of abuse with respect, listen to their view of the situation and work together to resolve very difficult issues.
This was a timely read for me, as like many others I feel helpless in the face of the diminishing democracy, bank power, and citizen disempowerment that is being served on us.
This author gives us an insight into how, in the personal, the local and the international arenas we can tackle the huge issues we face - diminishing natural resources, climate change, soaring carbon emissions, over-population - by pulling together, listening to each other, and accepting what we can't do just yet.


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