For the record, I don’t believe the hype that people are only interested in bad news. I think as humans we are intrigued by “dramatic” – but not that this has to be necessarily “negative”. I proved it to myself recently.
These past few weeks I have been working on a project that has seen me focus pretty close up to the recent crisis in Gaza. As a former resident of the region (some twenty years ago), I was half dreading it. Since last December my inbox has been filled with the plight of people in the area - photos of dead children, graphic descriptions of cruelty. Despite being rich in information, I had to dig deep to find what I was looking for – yet it was undeniably there.
For every mortar that landed and every bullet fired there have been extreme acts of bravery, resilience, and moving stories of how lives have been risked to save another. In the course of my exploration I came across the work of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and their sister organisation the Israeli Magen David Adom. Under ICRC and humanitarian law, they behave with disregard for creed or religion - phenomenal given the circumstances – and the two societies worked side by side to evacuate people from Gaza. Between 27 December and 18 January, the PRCS evacuated around 2,400 injured people, 1,200 trapped civilians and 750 bodies. I came across an Israeli who drove an ambulance into the dangerous Erez crossing to evacuate an injured Palestinian boy and rush him to an Israeli hospital for treatment. A Palestinian volunteer who was allegedly killed by a tank shell as he loaded a casualty into an ambulance. Whilst the circumstance illustrates the viciousness of war, the acts are but two examples of thousands where humans - against the odds - resist violence and counter attack with dramatic life saving – and notably by cooperating with others (who many would claim are sworn enemies). That fellow humans shouldn’t have had to endure such hardship is true – but the fact remains that every day there are shining examples of love and humanity and cooperation, examples we so often overlook.
My work this week has also taken me to other places: to Nepal, DR Congo, to Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Not literally, but virtually as I mobilised my business and social networks of thousands to hear - directly from the horse’s mouth - the views of the people who were literally on the ground (ok, so I used the old fashioned, but reliable, telephone too at times). So many people wanted to help; so many people did. We spend much time talking about the disconnects in society – between parents and teenagers, between governments and their people - that we forget that as a species we are better connected, more switched on than ever before – and that quietly, behind the scenes, every day these networks are being used for good. And it is not simply about establishing a network - as someone said to me at the recent launch of the Parliamentarians’ Network for Conflict Resolution and Human Security in London – it is about what that network can achieve by working together.
The Gaza example is probably a more dramatic and awesome example that will inspire and move people. Granted, the idea of a parliamentarians’ network might seem fairly dull – but taking a look at the nature of networks today I understand that there is indeed a dramatic shift in how we communicate and how we do business (even for politicians). I am one blogger amongst 100 million and this posting is one of a million posted today. Over 700 billion text messages were sent in China last year, and more Africans have mobile phones than access to clean drinking water. Such communication is not always for the good of mankind, but there is no doubt that we are connecting, cooperating and working together like never before – which to me, has to be good news.
Photo Credit: Flickr user blhphotography