I had forgotten the awful doom of the end of the university year with the inevitable result that there is less to attend.  Time becomes a wasteland.  My time is free now and that is unfortunate when I’m looking for things to spin the mind.

Fortunately Peace and Conflict Studies had an Inaugural Lecture as Pr. Richard Wells Jackson took up his Professorial post.  The second professor  of this Centre, I believe, with Kevin Clements.  The Counter Terrorism Unit from Critical Terrorist Studies in the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies let me in.  They looked very impressive in black costume.  The agents present on the doors for the X-Files Capping Show were more shouty, some years ago.  Just saying.  Everyone was let in.  They didn’t even confiscate the coconut thins that were given to the person sitting next to me.  There was a good attendance of University and Peace Studies worthies.

Professor Jackson’s personal narrative is interesting.  He was born in Africa to Salvation Army missionaries and educated in New Zealand, before teaching at Manchester and Aberystwyth.  In his education he dropped Economics in favour of Political Studies because Political Studies was more interesting.  Since then he has moved into Peace Studies, a pacifist in wolf’s clothing.

He talked about how our narratives make up our perception of our lives and world events.  Our origin stories give our nations a founding narrative.  They tell us who is included with us in nationhood, and who is excluded, both internally and externally from our national narrative.  Our scientific stories tell us about the studies of the world, what is observed, how we react as a society.

We live with the story in our fiction and media, that there is a ticking bomb in our public places.  Only the terrorists know where it is.  We don’t have time for them to tell us without coercion.  The hero in our stories of good and evil must resort to redemptive violence to extract the information from the perpetrators.  So we endorse torture and dehumanising practices.  Because we live in fear of the ‘unknown unknowns’, the threat that is always invisible to us until it is revealed.  The price of our security is paid by someone else being, and remaining, our victims.  We never ask why the terrorist acts in that way.  Our hero is always the Man of Action, not the traducer or the interpreter.

Our story leads us to torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib

The story exists.  The story changes and evolves.  We can change our stories, we can change the narratives that we tell ourselves.