solidarity is the tenderness of the peoples – Nicaraguan proverb

(Love honing my thinking in letters to the ‘Guardian Weekly’. Can now accept being knocked back – as this one was – with equanimity).

Reply, Guardian Weekly  31st May 2013

Dear gentleperson

Your front-page headline, ‘The most violent city on Earth’(24 May) is itself an assault. Since physical violence is by and large a male currency, why, even in the GW, does it have to be amplified in this way, become so compelling it annihilates all other voices? What about the women and children of Honduras, or those men who don’t collude? They’re victimised twice over, first by enacted violence itself, then by exclusion from the narrative. Nor does it end there, since it also rebounds on the reader. I too am pulverised, and held hostage.

Violence is a lie; it’s the ultimate powerlessness that cannibalises and corrupts everything within reach in order to feed its own emptiness. By trumpeting it, by skewing a whole country to one aspect of itself, are you not colluding? How is it that violence is perceived as endlessly more news- and noteworthy than all other factors? And are we now so inured that we have to have our faces rubbed in it before we notice? We spend millions on cures for other diseases; why not a vaccine against this scourge?

When I’d recovered from the front page, I went looking for succour inside, and found instead an iteration of the same theme. Images of Syrian fighters strutting their weapons, a score of French and Iranian politicians with just three women in the background, parading Somali soldiers, a clutch of hugging footballers and only male Victorians on the back page. The bevy of glum, sumptuous Indian brides in no way redressed the imbalance; nor did Sarah Palin and an anonymous lipsticked mouth. This kind of assault is even more pernicious than physical attack because it’s invisible and leaves no bruises.

I don’t ask to be not shocked or challenged. But I do ask that the strident minority of death-dealers not be permitted in your pages to swamp the lifegiving majority – the enduring women of Honduras, Kunming dissidents (Protests in China at chemical plant plan), the powerful dancers (It’s a man’s world when it comes to creating dance), and the splendid leopard (Tough-love travels). There’s a Nicaraguan saying, ‘Solidarity is the tenderness of the peoples’. Might we have more solidarity, please, and more tenderness?









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