"This week the minaret of one of Syria's most beautiful mosques was destroyed in the northern city of Aleppo. The Ummayad mosque established in 715 was rebuilt in 1159 after being damaged by a fire and then built again a century later after the Mongol invasion. The oldest surviving part was the minaret and both the State forces and the rebels accuse each other of its destruction. Lying in the Old City, the mosque is a Unesco world heritage site but has become part of the wider devastation of Syria's rich cultural heritage; a Crusader castle and Roman ruins in the ancient city of Palmyra have also been damaged.
However sad this physical destruction of history and art is, it should matter less to us than the recent reports that some 70,000 lives have been lost in this terrible civil war with hundreds of thousands more displaced. This is a war which is gradually ripping the country apart but about which the rest of the world doesn't seem to know what to do. Yet there is a different poignancy to the loss of a country's artistic and cultural past. It is these visual artifacts, building and ruins which speak to us of a country's history, its collective memory, the love and passion of the people who make a piece of land into a nation state. That so many Syrians are now killing each other and destroying ruins and religious sites poses the disturbing question, what exactly is still held sacred in so many part of the Muslim world?
A couple of weeks ago I returned from a short break to Istanbul. The area surrounding the majestic Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque is also a Unesco world heritage site, tourists wander freely, the buildings stand sublime, the contested past of the place breathing its religious spirit into a refashioned, modern and vibrant city. But I wonder whether the preservation of history is only meaningful in countries where there is the preservation of peace, where people can enjoy the ordinariness of life, where there is order and purpose and we have the luxury of self reflection.
Earlier this week the former Met commissioner sir Ian Blair said societies choose what kind of violence they will tolerate. Looking across to so many part of the Islamic world where there is civil war, state violence and individual acts of terror, I wonder how and when Muslim societies will move away from seeing violence as a resolution to human conflict. When God is great is uttered as people and buildings are blown up what kind of God have so many created in their hearts and minds? The destruction of the minaret is not just a physical destruction but a tragic metaphor for a nation's soul."
(Mona Siddiqui, 26 April 2013, BBC Radio 4: Thought for the Day)
Fig.1 At left, the damaged Umayyad mosque in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday 24 April 2013; at right, the view of the mosque with the minaret intact on 6 March 2013. (AP) [http://www.wbur.org/npr/178906558/minaret-of-iconic-syrian-mosque-destroyed-in-fighting].
"Six months on from one of the world's most devastating tsunamis, Panorama returns to Japan to hear remarkable tales of survival amid the epic destruction. Piecing together new footage of the wave, reporter Paul Kenyon tells the dramatic stories of those who managed to escape when so many did not. The film also follows those returning briefly to homes abandoned within the radioactive no-go area around the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and asks what the future holds for the thousands affected."
(BBC One - Panorama)
First Broadcast 18 September 2011 20:30 BBC News Channel, length 29 minutes.
"Lors des bombardements allemand de la seconde guerre mondiale, Londres à été une des villes les plus détruite. On y trouvait fréquemment des espaces vide crée entre deux immeubles démolis et bourrés de gravats. Ces espaces vides, terrains vagues, en friche, "poubelles" en attente d'être reconstruit furent pendant une période des espaces de terrains de jeux consacré exclusivement aux enfants. L'idée était de donner un lieu spécifique pour que les enfants à la fois s'exprime librement, évite l'ennuie et l'inactivité qui peuvent conduire à la délinquance et participe à leurs façon à la période de reconstruction.
Ces terrains d'aventures, appelés Junk playground (terrains vague) ont été des espaces de libertés encadré ou les enfants construisirent à partir des gravats des "sculptures installation et autres inventions".
La fabrication par lui même (de l'enfant) de ses propres jeux par la maîtrise des outils (marteau, scie...) furent une expérience inédite et fondamentale dans l'approche citoyenne et pédagogique du rôle du jeu comme source d'épanouissement et d'éveil des consciences. La liberté quasi anarchique de ces terrains, laissant à l'enfant la responsabilité de ses actes, en étant acteur de sa propre aventures comme facteur de régénération pour une société pacifié, sans violence ou chacun peut s'exprimer et trouver sa place de citoyen. Cette expérience éphémère n'a pas survécu aux règles de sécurité, aux normes. Mais aussi aux formatages d'équipements modulaires produits en masse ou l'enfant n'est plus l'acteur (car exclu du processus de conception) mais simple utilisateur, spectateur, consommateur et non plus comme citoyen."
(Éric Malaterre, 03/01/2011, BTS Design d'Espace Toulon)
"Most New Zealanders watched David Lange contest and win the 1985 Oxford Union debate, arguing the proposition that 'nuclear weapons are morally indefensible' with a mixture of pride and astonishment. After decades of knowing our place, and several years of government by homunculus, suddenly we had a Prime Minister who could stride the international stage with insouciance. And briefly, we seemed to matter.
Although New Zealand's nuclear-free policy did not become law until 1987, it was integral to early years of the fourth Labour government. The 1984 snap election that made Lange Prime Minister was called by Robert Muldoon when National MP Marilyn Waring withdrew her support for her party over the issue of nuclear ship visits. Labour won the election with a nuclear ban as a flagship policy.
The policy was popular among New Zealanders, but not without cost. Our relationship with the US deteriorated in the early weeks of 1985. On the same journey that took him to Oxford, Lange, four days before the debate, met with a US State Department official who outlined the retaliatory measures that the US would be taking against New Zealand. The ANZUS alliance of which New Zealand had been part since 1951 was effectively cancelled at that meeting."
(Public Address, 14 October 2004)
This is the introduction to the transcript of the Rt. Hon. David Lange's 1985 Oxford Debate. The transcript is copyright to Public Address. It was prepared by Russell Brown and Fiona Rae, with the consent of David Lange. Thanks are due to Radio New Zealand’s Sound Archives/Nga Taonga Korero (File: Media Numbers T4705 to T4708), Infofind, the Parliamentary Library and Barry Hartley.