LETTER: Looking at how conflict shapes a community

When a community is without conflict, it shines

Dear Editor,

Humour in whatever form, l hazard a guess, is something that does not automatically come to mind when thinking about the Middle East.

If anything, I’m guessing, what comes to mind is the conflict in Syria and the level of human devastation including the huge refugee exodus from there. Or perhaps what comes to mind is the underreported war and starvation in Yemen; or the recent wars in Iraq and Iran; or the unsettled situation between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

These are not easy environments from a distance to think about. They are not places we would likely consider for a relaxed, carefree holiday or places we would easily associate with laughter and joy. Nevertheless there is a significant diaspora from some of these countries where over a generation people have established footholds in other countries and have brought their cultures with them including their creativity.

One such place is Australia, where in the movie Ali’s Wedding, a movie out on Netflix, an Iraq community is fleshed out with its deep humanity, wisdom, compassion, forgiveness and humour. I never imagined ever seeing an Iraqi community, likely because of my ignorance and limited knowledge, that had the capacity to laugh at itself.

Away from conflict people have the capacity to really be themselves. There are a lot more places in the Middle East likely where laughter is much more present than I imagine. The social and political structures and developments in countries I do not know and my own monochrome assumptions of those places are not helpful. The world is a big place; in the absence of real knowledge, perhaps I should keep my unfounded assumptions to myself, or find information via our brand new library to overcome my ignorance. Ignorance has its unique hazards.

George Jason

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