There’s more than one way to see this!

A BBC News item yesterday really disturbed me, not so much by its content, worrying as that is, but by its labelling of the people involved and its restricted framing of the issue.

In short, the item told listeners that people who travel to Syria become suspect and when they come back are “a risk”, “a problem” and the concern of the Security Services. Some of those they are concerned with have been trained to fight, whatever that reality is in Syria these days. Others though appear to have humanitarian interests. The BBC quotes the new Minister for Immigration and Security:

“The situation on the ground means that people who might think that they are going for genuine humanitarian purposes may get involved in situations they simply had not contemplated.

It’s very fluid and people may become involved in terrorist organisations who are killing civilians. Indeed, they may be radicalised when they are out there.”

Indeed they may, and indeed that is worrying. And I am not so naive as to believe there weren’t many other agendas around this broadcast. But empathy prompts some alternative framings of the scenario that allow the returnees to be more complex human beings:

  • People returning from the war zone may also be traumatised by their experiences – like my grandfather coming back from the trenches in WWI. In his case, a steady job and a family seemed to prevent him becoming a risk to society. Some expert psychotherapeutic support would have been useful too.
  • People coming back from Syria may be physically hurt as well as thoughtful and angry – like my father coming back from Burma at the end of WWII. In his case, free nursing care followed by being able to afford to rent a flat and educational opportunities that opened a new future seemed to work.
  • People returning to UK from Syria may see all sorts of things here with fresh, and grateful, eyes – as I have done each time I returned from situations of poverty and conflict elsewhere. They may be ready to renounce violence rather than repeat it. Give them a chance.
One Response to “There’s more than one way to see this!”
  1. morganp63 says:

    Well pointed out for those who swallow the news whole without a thought. I have only just realised that the troubles in Ukraine are supposedly centred around the EU, if I understand it. Because the news is so narrow, I rarely listen/watch any more.

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