The Beginning of Sorrows

The sequel to my collection of short stories THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” will be a novel THE GULF “The Beginning of Sorrows”. It is based on a Biblical quotation that seems very relevant to today: “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars but see that you are not troubled for all these things must come to pass but the end is not yet. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Mathew the Apostle It seems that the 21st Century that dawned with such hope cannot move on and shake off the problems and the illnesses of the 20th century. A new Cold War with Russia is threatening, a new “Yellow Peril” , with China replacing Japan, has emerged – and the “Out of Africa” Ebola epidemic has replaced the scourge of HIV/AIDS. And, we are still locked into that atavistic tribal battle for land and resources, the Arab/Israeli conflict in The Middle East. Somehow this has morphed into a Clash of Cultures between Christianity and Islam. And still we treat the symptoms and not the disease. The disease is ignorance that leads to hubris. Hubris is the self confidence of the ignorant. Some Western politicians understand the problems – but they do not understand the people. The present outcry “Ban the Burqua” is typical. It is a typical lazy journalist/PR sound bite for what is a much more complex issue. Burqua is the term used in Afghanistan, it is Chador in Iran, Hijab in Arabia and Yashmak in other parts of The Midddle East – and God knows what it is called in Malaysia and Indonesia which is the largest Muslim nation on earth, and not in the least Arab. Although Iraq has made us aware of the schism and deep mistrust (hatred?) between Sunni and Shia Muslims we have no idea of the complexities of the various sects within that schism (Alawites, Sufis et.) even more complex than the Catholic (Jesuit, Opus Dei etc.) and Protestant (Coptic, Lutheran, Orthodox etc.) in the Christian faith. And in the case of the Middle East we have to deal with tribal loyalties that overlay religious divides – and people who speak fervently of events of 7,000 years ago as if they happened yesterday, and they were present. The consequences of misreading the MidEast, of sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind of Western governments’ present hubris are unthinkable. Israel and Iran lobbing nuclear weapons at each other? Remember that in biblical terms this is the site of Armageddon – the ultimate battle between Good and Evil. But who is good and who is evil? But don’t wait for my novel THE GULF “The Beginning of Sorrows”. You can gain insights into the MidEast and its complexity from an expatriate perspective if you preview my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” at: http://www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards and download it if you have a Kindle. Or if you prefer a real book you can order the paperback edition from: http://www.thebookdepository.co.uk The ISBN number is 978-1908147097 They offer free delivery worldwide.

For the Love of Money is the root of all Evil . . .

And is there anything more evil than the killing of innocent children such as is happening every day in Gaza.

The shooting down of MH 17 that killed so many young children was gruesome enough – but at least there is the possibility that this was a mistake and the terrorist thought he was shooting down a Ukrainian military plane. No such mitigating circumstance exists in Gaza where the Israeli forces are indiscriminately killing women and children with a ferocity that is unbelievable given that they claim to be a civilized society.
This weekend there was an article in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald that compared the policies of Benjamin Netenyahu and his LIKUD party to the Nazis, and their arrogance to that of Fascists. The savagery of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) retaliation to the HAMAS rockets smacks of the Nazis policy of shooting 100 innocent hostages for every German soldier killed. The recent wave of rockets killed 2 or 3 Israelis. The IDF response has been to kill almost 1,000 Palestinians (mostly civilians) including about 200 children.
This is barbaric and obscene. But what is even more obscene it the refusal of the USA to sanction Israel. Russia’s complicity in the shooting down of MH 17 has brought about a huge wave of sanctions orchestrated by the USA. Yet Israel has bulldozed 400 Palestinian villages, sent 1 million Palestinians into exile to live in the misery and squalor of refugee camps, laid siege to Gaza, continued to build illegal settlements on the West Bank – and continues to slaughter Palestinians: all with with the complicity of the USA, and with weaponry and ammunition supplied by them using the US$20 million per day of aid the USA provides to Israel. Why?
Because all American politicians know that without the support and the finance of the Jewish lobby they will not get re-elected. Shame on you for your inhumanity and putting politics before people. May you rot in Hell.
Is it any wonder the Arab Street refers to America as The Evil Empire and fundamental Islam is on the march. Some years ago an Arab friend of mine said that Israel would never be satisfied until they owned the whole of the Middle East and its oil wealth. At the time I thought that was an extreme view. But the Israelis seem intent on annihilating Gaza and annexing The West Bank. What is next? Jordan? Iraq? Syria? Tomorrow the World?
The Biblical quotation about the love of money ends like this:
“ . . . which some coveted after have erred from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”

And while it seems that the majority of Israelis support Netanyahu and LIKUD, there is a sizeable minority who are sickened by their inhumanity.
The final chapter in my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” tries to set this in context with the story of Layla, a Christian Palestinian who quits her career as a cabin attendant and runs a Church of England orphanage in Ramallah which is eventually closed by the IDF scattering the orphans to the wind. This is just one story of many of that turbulent region where millions of lives have been shattered by the blunderings of the Foreign policies of the super powers.
Perhaps God in His wisdom has forgiven Sykes and Picot and James Balfour. Millions of Palestinians cannot, and their dead and maimed children cannot.

You can preview my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” at:
http://www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards
and download it if you have a Kindle.
Or if you prefer a real book you can order the paperback edition from:
http://www.thebookdepository.co.uk
The ISBN number is 978-1908147097
They offer free delivery worldwide.
I hope you enjoy it.

When did the Circus leave town?

When I was  child I loved it when the circus came to town. I loved the skills of the tumblers and acrobats, the skill and daring of the pretty girls bareback riding—and of course the heart- stopping daring and courage of the lion tamers who went alone into a cage full of wild beasts of the jungle. But the slapstick of clowns frightened me, it seemed cruel and heartless, and I hated the freak shows that clustered around the circus.

And if the world of Politics can be seen as a circus, then the skilful tumblers and acrobats, the pretty and skilful bare-back riders, and the brave and fearless lion tamers have gone, leaving behind the clowns and the freaks—vain, incompetent, corrupt, egotistical and damaged personalities jostling for their place in the limelight, and more than their share of the action, leaving a trail of devastation in their wake.

I cannot even bring myself to write about the freaks, although most literature and drama these days seems to concentrate on dysfunctional and bizarre people as though in some way this illuminates human nature. I prefer to write about normal people in abnormal situations that force them to act “out of character”—or perhaps enables them to reveal their true nature?   

But you can read about a 20th Century clown, Captain Bob, in my  story FALSE ECONOMY that is part of a collection of stories in my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” set in The Arabian/Persian Gulf from the 1960s until the events of 9/11 changed everything.

You can preview my book at:

http://amazon.com/author/mikerichards

and download it if you have a KINDLE. If you do not, or you prefer a real book, you can order from:

http://thebookdepositry.co.uk

They offer free delivery worldwide