I don't normally 'do' political or topical in this blog. Too many others to compete with who do it better. Plus I don't normally concern myself with matters I can't really change. (My paltry readership figures suggest perhaps I ought to change. Is my blog in need of a shake up I wonder.
There have been millions of words written concerning the Osama Bin Laden affair, but not by me. Then at the weekend something happened that made me think.
We, my wife and I happened to be in Castleton at the weekend. Situated in a wild unspoilt area in the Peak District, I am so in love with the place I have a large picture of it on the back of my motorhome. (Even though the powers to be in their infinite wisdom have innundated parts with parking meters. Yet there was NOT ONE single vehicle now parked in the areas in question where previously there would have been dozens.) Exactly the place to 'chill out' and many do so, particularly at weekends, including our new found friends parked alongside.
Five youngsters, ages twenty to twenty five, three male, two female. In the course of the next half hour I learnt four were Pakistani, one Moroccan. I also learnt all were well educated, being either at university or in jobs of some standing, banking, teaching, computing. They were also exceedingly well turned out, very modern, very western, but not sporting the hiking paraphernalia normally associated with the Peak District. They were noisy, verbose, outgoing, seemingly unaware of the attention they were getting from less than impressed, often elderly visitors to this area. But they were also courteous, polite, respectful to my wife and I, intelligent and humorous. Their offer of strawberries and cream was unneccessary, but generous and accepted.
It was obvious the group had little comprehension, understanding or experience of the area. (They are city dwellers, Birmingham and Sheffield.) The visit was to be short, for the pull of city life was strong. The talk was of visiting Leeds, presumably to experience the night life or Sheffield, to buy shoes. (On a Saturday evening, surely not viable, my friends!) Eventually they left and quiet returned to Castleton. But why should our chance meeting have any political implications?
Our new friends are young. They are respectful of their parents, in spite of behaviour at odds with their upbringing; (They were in Castleton to get away from 'their own'.) At least one talked of arranged marriage without rancour or particular apprehension. We are old, not of the Muslim faith, pursuing a British way of life; trips to the great outdoors included. We had little in common, but then again the parents of our friends are old. Herein lies the crux of the matter.
The likes of Muslims like Bin Laden has caused the world much misery and fear and the terror is ongoing. Fundamentists amongst the old are probably entrenched beyond redemption. That you can convince some young that virgins are on offer in return for suicide bombing appeals evidently to the brainwashed, particularly the uneducated. But my new friends have the advantage of education. Plus they are at odds with the older generation of whatever political political or religious persuation. Perhaps, only perhaps, the peaceful future of the world depends on the young, my new friends included. Concerning Pakistan,
David Aaronovitch posed the question in The Times last week, 'Whether over time Pakistan will become more like us, or we'll become more like them'. Not a thousand miles removed from our trip to Castleton. You were great, my friends, I hope we meet again. Next time hiking boots and rucksacks at the ready?