A Tale of Two Cities-Jerusalem and Ramallah

I wrote this speech for my son’s school speech contest in 2002, it seems that it is still relevant today.
I greet you all in the name of peace. Charles Dickens once started a famous book by writing:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of amazement, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair
Well, in the context of my speech, let me take some literary license and say, it is the worst of times, it is the worst of times! It is the age of ignorance and foolishness; it is the epoch of disbelief and insanity. It is the season of darkness and a winter of hopelessness and despair. What one event or situation can bring such hopelessness and such despair? In the age of opportunity and enlightenment, why should I a mere student speak with so much fear about anything?
I speak so fearfully because of a specific conflict, a conflict so dangerous that no one can ignore it. I speak of a tale of two cities. Two cities where all hope is gone, where insanity reins and where blood flows. What are we to do , when children die in their mothers arms, where guns and tanks are normal, when laughing children are considered dangerous and teenagers are listed” as enemies of the state. A walk in the park is no longer just that, it is a dance with death!
I speak of the cities of Jerusalem and Ramallah, in Israel and Palestine, cities at war. Each is struggling to survive in a sea of uncertainty. Each having a moral right to existence, each wanting to do so at the exclusion of the other. Fear rules the day, everyday activities become minefields. Morning greetings that normally mean noting more see you later take on a new meaning, because goodbye might be just that, goodbye, forever, final. The future seems so far away, peace seems so impossible.
What is the solution? What will we do to make sure that this is the last generation that has to witness this struggle? Who amongst us remembers a time when the conflict was not before us? Will we let history continue to judge this generation by our failure to find a solution? It is a tragedy that in a land that claims to be so important to three of the world’s important religions, that hatred, death and intolerance have so much hold.
The solution is not a peace plan by America, nor is it a UN conference on peace, it is a solution driven and carried out by Israelis and Palestinians. What the people of this region needs, is not our condemnation, but our support. No amount of military force, suicide bombers or occupations can solve this problem.
I cannot be so bold as to suggest that this is not a complex problem, but let me appeal to your sensitivities, are you not appalled by the killing, the maiming, the blood and the death. How much more reports do we need to hear, how much more bodies do we need to see. I believe that we have had enough, we need to reflect and then we need to act. We need to speak out in out churches, mosques and our synagogues, so that we can make a difference. We have to begin talking.
We South Africans have a unique perspective on this issue. We too have fought a long and hard battle for freedom. We too were robbed for decades of our basic human rights. We too fought in the streets, in our schools, and in our factories. In the end however, we sat down and talked. We engaged each other in dialogue and in the end we won. Surely this must be the message to Ariel Sharon, to Yasser Arafat and to the people of Israel and Palestine.
I wish to end my speech by remembering the expression that says: “Evil triumphs when good men say noting” Thank you all

A Tale of Two Cities-Jerusalem and Ramallah

I wrote this speech for my son’s school speech contest in 2002, it seems that it is still relevant today.
I greet you all in the name of peace. Charles Dickens once started a famous book by writing:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of amazement, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair
Well, in the context of my speech, let me take some literary license and say, it is the worst of times, it is the worst of times! It is the age of ignorance and foolishness; it is the epoch of disbelief and insanity. It is the season of darkness and a winter of hopelessness and despair. What one event or situation can bring such hopelessness and such despair? In the age of opportunity and enlightenment, why should I a mere student speak with so much fear about anything?
I speak so fearfully because of a specific conflict, a conflict so dangerous that no one can ignore it. I speak of a tale of two cities. Two cities where all hope is gone, where insanity reins and where blood flows. What are we to do , when children die in their mothers arms, where guns and tanks are normal, when laughing children are considered dangerous and teenagers are listed” as enemies of the state. A walk in the park is no longer just that, it is a dance with death!
I speak of the cities of Jerusalem and Ramallah, in Israel and Palestine, cities at war. Each is struggling to survive in a sea of uncertainty. Each having a moral right to existence, each wanting to do so at the exclusion of the other. Fear rules the day, everyday activities become minefields. Morning greetings that normally mean noting more see you later take on a new meaning, because goodbye might be just that, goodbye, forever, final. The future seems so far away, peace seems so impossible.
What is the solution? What will we do to make sure that this is the last generation that has to witness this struggle? Who amongst us remembers a time when the conflict was not before us? Will we let history continue to judge this generation by our failure to find a solution? It is a tragedy that in a land that claims to be so important to three of the world’s important religions, that hatred, death and intolerance have so much hold.
The solution is not a peace plan by America, nor is it a UN conference on peace, it is a solution driven and carried out by Israelis and Palestinians. What the people of this region needs, is not our condemnation, but our support. No amount of military force, suicide bombers or occupations can solve this problem.
I cannot be so bold as to suggest that this is not a complex problem, but let me appeal to your sensitivities, are you not appalled by the killing, the maiming, the blood and the death. How much more reports do we need to hear, how much more bodies do we need to see. I believe that we have had enough, we need to reflect and then we need to act. We need to speak out in out churches, mosques and our synagogues, so that we can make a difference. We have to begin talking.
We South Africans have a unique perspective on this issue. We too have fought a long and hard battle for freedom. We too were robbed for decades of our basic human rights. We too fought in the streets, in our schools, and in our factories. In the end however, we sat down and talked. We engaged each other in dialogue and in the end we won. Surely this must be the message to Ariel Sharon, to Yasser Arafat and to the people of Israel and Palestine.
I wish to end my speech by remembering the expression that says: “Evil triumphs when good men say noting” Thank you all

The world as we knew it no longer exists

Everyday I am confronted with the notion that the world is changing. From my little corner of South Africa I am reminded daily by news coverage 24/7 that I am not alone. I cry when someone looses his or her life unnecessarily, whether that life if lost in Johannesburg, Cape Town, New Orleans, Thailand or Baslan. I am connected to each and every person all over the world. I am truly a citizen of the world. How can I not feel remorse when someone dies, how can I not feel pride when someone overcomes adversity, how can I not be in shock when nature unleashes it fury on the world.
I belong to the world, and the world belongs to me, I yearn to be there with you in what ever situation you find yourself today, and if cannot be there in person, that I will do in my power to be there by talking about your plight, by supporting organizations that help you, by learning about your situation and by agitating for your just cause, I do this because I am a citizen of this world, as you are.

The world as we knew it no longer exists

The world as we knew it no longer exists.

Everyday I am confronted with the notion that the world is changing. From my little corner of South Africa I am reminded daily by news coverage 24/7 that I am not alone. I cry when someone looses his or her life unnecessarily, whether that life if lost in Johannesburg, Cape Town, New Orleans, Thailand or Baslan. I am connected to each and every person all over the world. I am truly a citizen of the world.
How can I not feel remorse when someone dies, how can I not feel pride when someone overcomes adversity, how can I not be in shock when nature unleashes it fury on the world.

I belong to the world, and the world belongs to me, I yearn to be there with you in what ever situation you find yourself today, and if cannot be there in person, that I will do in my power to be there by talking about your plight, by supporting organizations that help you, by learning about your situation and by agitating for your just cause, I do this because I am a citizen of this world, as you are.

The world as we knew it no longer exists

The world as we knew it no longer exists.

Everyday I am confronted with the notion that the world is changing. From my little corner of South Africa I am reminded daily by news coverage 24/7 that I am not alone. I cry when someone looses his or her life unnecessarily, whether that life if lost in Johannesburg, Cape Town, New Orleans, Thailand or Baslan. I am connected to each and every person all over the world. I am truly a citizen of the world.
How can I not feel remorse when someone dies, how can I not feel pride when someone overcomes adversity, how can I not be in shock when nature unleashes it fury on the world.

I belong to the world, and the world belongs to me, I yearn to be there with you in what ever situation you find yourself today, and if cannot be there in person, that I will do in my power to be there by talking about your plight, by supporting organizations that help you, by learning about your situation and by agitating for your just cause, I do this because I am a citizen of this world, as you are.

UN 60th anniversary

This week sees the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the UN. The UN of 2005 faces many challenges, not the least being the issue of leadership, or the lack thereof if some of the recent revelations are to be believed.
The UN is due for a major overall. It has lost credibility in some circle, it has lost key people through conflict and it has lost the moral high ground through its involvement in corruption and deception. But still it celebrates its 60th with some successes. The world of 2005 needs the UN , it remains the one constant voice in a world slowly becoming cluttered by noise, poverty, conflict, terrorism and natural disasters.
The UN, if it wants to continue to be relevant in the 21st century must transform, its must become more representative, and it must lead. These are the starting points that need to be addressed if the UN seeks to play a unifying role on the world stage.

http://un.org

Its a bloody disgrace!!!!

The slow response of the American government and federal authorities to the plight of hundreds of thousands of people in New Orleans and most of the Gulf Coast is a bloody disgrace. I watched in horror as people died in wheelchairs, on the road and in the streets. For goodness sake this is America,land of the brave!. People are dying and all the federal government does is have press
conferences asking people to be patient. What is this, this is a failure of the plans, the strategies, of FEMA, of the government and of the leadership.
Playing the race card and the wealth and poverty card now may seem insensitive, but am I the only one noticing that the majority of people I see on CNN suffering are black, and if not black then from the interviews most ask is it because they are not wealthy.I heard the radio interview of Mayor Nagin, and I salute him for having the courage to criticize the leadership and the slow response.
I believe that in all the scenarios this kind of disaster must have been discussed, why then is the response so weak, so ineffective and so amateurish.
Stop pontificating, stop playing politics, most of all stop those idiotic comments like “Our hearts go out to the people of New Orleans blah blah blah….”, Don’t tell them SHOW them!!!!