Nowzad: the life lesson in a word

If you have an innate love and respect for all lives, the last few days as Afghanistan became undone was akin to that desperately sad movie that you hope is not based on a true story. But the irony is art constantly copies life and in the strangest and cruelest of fiction lies someone’s truths and life story. Yes, movies will be made about the last week in Kabul and the race to evacuate people but these future movies will be based on the real life horror that is unfolding in our now. Afghanistan may be far removed from us geographically but the sight of babies sacrificed by parents over barbed wire so they will know a life free of fear, or live feeds from Nowzad pleading for help to get staff and rescues out brought them all into our hearts, minds (well, most of us!) and our nows! 

I guess for the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on the Nowzad rescues and their rescuers. The last few days of wondering would they or wouldn’t they get out, and watching some of the media debates and discussions formed by political and public reaction, hit the ‘on button’ for that illuminating lens through which we view what man is really made of. And some of it for the animal lover was pretty ugly and difficult to digest. It showed us how there is a cohort that like to poke that simmering fire of animals versus people and in doing so a rigid line appears and you pick your side. Even though there was never a case of rescues taking the place of people on planes, there were so many that wanted to hold on to ‘they will’ like a soother to sooth the seemingly irritating dislike of animals and those people like Pen Farthing who probably would have risked his life for them. People like Pen bring up so much for people that are very unlike him and instead of gently looking at that, a venomous reaction often forms and ‘what’s really going on?’ never gets answered. And so, the hate game continues. 

I’ve come across this hate – often disguised in a suspiciously sneery or snobbyish guise when you cross paths with those people who look at you like you are mad to care so much.As a fanatical (because sometimes you have to be in a world that does not deserve animals) animal lover, advocate, rescuer, some people say it without saying it, ‘what the hell is wrong with you?’ But it’s like pointing that finger of blame – yes, the finger might be perfectly placed in the right direction (sometimes) but a lot of the time it’s the direction of the other three fingers that tell us more! Does the blame lie with the finger pointer? 

I wonder do people who love deeply irritate those who love superficially. Do people who care so much niggle at the parts in others who care so little. Is it jealousy or is it total suspicion or maybe it is hate but the hate probably grows from the other uncomfortable emotional seedlings. So, what if we dug deeper without this turning into a paper on human behaviour. 

What about our core beliefs? Yes the personal petrol that pretty much forms us. Core beliefs are a person’s most central ideas about themselves, others, and the world. These beliefs act like a lens through which every situation and life experience is seen. Because of this, people with different core beliefs might be in the same situation, but think, feel, and behave very differently. And that to excuse the pun, is the core of the issue, in many disputes, or in this case, the Defence Secretary’s  reaction to Pen Farthing and his ‘pets’ to quote Mr.Wallace. He could not get around the concept of rescues or maybe he did but chose to poke Mr.Farthing and his followers by using the wrong term – Which also is telling about his CBs. Both men seeing the same situation – albeit, one in the situation but seeing it very differently. 

Our core beliefs are formed over time depending on our life experiences. The good thing is: negative, irrational or wrong core beliefs can be changed. But they weren’t going to change quick enough to get the Nowzad rescue team and their animals out so the evacuation was planned and attempted by themselves as they navigated a difficult journey to Kabul airport whilst they dealt with another enemy from afar: the media and officialdom back home. 

There is a saying that says, ‘those who never love an animal, part of their soul remains untouched!’ and that was apparent as I watched many television debates and read many articles about Operation Ark. Noah never would have saved breeding pairs if social media existed: he would have probably given up with the realisation, ‘what kind of a f@@ked up world am I saving them for?’ 

Some people just don’t get it as their souls remain untouched. They know not of the unconditional love of an animal or being loving by a pet who loves them more than they actually love themselves so they go through life seeking it – often from the wrong people and in all the wrong places. 

I probably overuse the question, ‘what’s really going on?’ when people are reacting in a way that doesn’t quite fit with what is happening. And to change core beliefs requires a heap load of honesty and catching yourself when you resort to the old beliefs that serve no purpose, are defunct, or they form a mind that tries to demean or damage those who don’t represent your own beliefs. 

Nowzad means new, to begin again. And that is a forever word that reminds us why animals matter too; why it’s never about animals versus people; and the importance of animals to many people – whether they are pets or their only family member. There is no argument needed and the debate is futile. Animals would tell us so if they could. We could learn so much from them if only our beliefs would allow the lesson in. 

It is not over for Nowzad as their founder is determined to complete Operation Ark and save his staff who are ‘terrified’ as they live in a very dangerous world now – some of them were not even born into. It is alien to them. To quote one Afghan woman, ‘it is like being in an abusive relationship.’ 

It’s important to be mindful that both people and animals will suffer under the Taliban. I will be praying for both. 

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