Navigating Syria: The Impossible, Indispensable Mission
by Ramzy Baroud
- Palestine ChronicleI
unfriended another Facebook friend this week. It may seem to be a trivial matter, but for me, it is not. The reason behind my action was Syria. As in Egypt, Syria has instigated many social media breakups with people whom, until then, were regarded with a degree of respect and admiration.
But this is not a social media affair. The problems lie at the core of the Syrian conflict, with all of its manifestations, be they political, sectarian, ideological, cultural, and intellectual. While on the left (not the establishment left of course) Palestine has brought many like-minded people together, Egypt has fragmented that unity, and Syria has crushed and pulverized it to bits.
Those who cried over the victims of Israeli wars on Gaza, did not seem very concerned about Palestinians starving to death in the Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus. Some squarely blamed the Syrian government for the siege that killed hundreds, while others blamed the rebels. Some writers even went further, blaming the residents of the camp. Somehow, the refugees were implicated in their own misery and needed to be collectively punished for showing sympathy to the Syrian opposition.
The only line of logic that exists in the Yarmouk narrative, as in the Syrian story as a whole, is that there is no logic. It has turned out that solidarity with Palestinians has limits. If forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad do the shooting – and the shelling and the starving – then the plight of the refugees is open for discussion.
It also has turned out that some of those who pose as human rights activists are rarely compelled by ethical priorities, but rather dogmatic ideology that is so rigid it has no space for a sensible argument based on a serious investigation of facts.
Created on Wednesday, 07 May 2014 18:36
Written by Ray Grigg
The Fear Factor: Caution in Our Genes
by Ray Grigg - Shades of Green
Fear is in our genes. This is the argument presented by the theoretical psychologist, Dr. Nicholas Humphrey of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. In his studies on the evolution of intelligence and consciousness he advances the notion that we are inherently cautious as the result of a stressful and traumatic history — a caution that continues to affect how we perceive the world and, therefore, how we assess and respond to risk.
Given the insights now provided by the science of epigenetics and the known influence of ancestral experience on subsequent genetic structure and expression, Humphrey's notion about this embedded source of fear is convincingly credible.
“It is not so long,” he writes, “in terms of biological evolution, since our ancestors emerged from the terrible social and material conditions of the late ice-ages.
Humans who migrated from Africa to Europe were under almost constant threat of famine, ill-health and predation. The genetic memory of those dreadful years has left our species still burdened with anxieties that we cannot easily throw off. So, even today, we modern humans approach life defensively” (NewScientist, “Placebos at Large”, Aug. 3/13).
Indeed, only a few short centuries have passed since the civilizing institutions of our current society have provided the law, order and security that are the basis of our social structure.