Thursday, April 5, 2012
You don't realise how much of a privilage freedom from the press is until it's taken away. I don't think I will ever take it for grtanted again. There are a few things I'm really dying to get off my chest while I am here but simply can't. I have some horrific stories and pictures, have encountered some horrendous things and yet all this stuff I want to remember and share with everyone, I know I wont be able to for at least another few weeks and by then the smaller details will have skipped my memory. I think something I can talk about without giving to much away is judgement. It is easy to judge things at face value, to assign blame and nominate blanket problems and solutions. No situation is ever that simple, ever. I thought this before I came to egypt and I think it even more now. As I mentioned earlier, I have the horror photos and stories... well there is more behind either of these than I can possibly ever explain and everyone will have their own opinions on what they see and take things for. However to me, screaming judgments of right and wrong, is only ever showing and to some degree emphasing ones own lack of understanding, sure everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but i guess what I am trying to emphasise is that before you go making judgements (and public judgements for that matter) you should at least have some form of understanding of the situation and what lies behind/beneath what is visible on the surface ie. the history leading up to it, the conditions, possibly even politics in some cases... Coming here to Egypt, there are some things I have wished I didn't believe could happen, such as animal abuse, neglect etc... but they do happen and it's never really going to be as simple as saying that the people who allow and cause these things to happen are infact bad human beings (obviously there is an exception to some individuals who actually do posess no empathy what so ever). However, from what I have experienced so far in the areas we have been working, most of them are simply illiterate so to speak. They have grown up knowing no other way in how to treat their animals, they cannot afford to do it any other way, what they do infact works for them (even if it is considered inhumane to our standards, like I said, it works for them and they don't know any better) and at the end of the day, majority of tourists/westeners from developed countries themselves don't know any better and come and pay to ride these poor creatures, thus encouraging the vicious cycle. We have also been working with some amazing local vets; talking to them you really get the scale of the problem, unbelievably to us, some of the things they are taught in vet school are infact outlawed in many western countries. The newest vets do however realise that some of these practises are wrong and come with implications and as a result are trying to change things; but who is to tell some local owner (and animal owners in general) who's practice has been handed down from father to son for generations untold is actually wrong in their treatments and practicings, especially as some of these things are seen as a source of pride (because they have given results in the past). Don't get me wrong though I'm not justifying what they do, just stating the way things are. There is no one solution, instead there are many things that need to start to happen in order to implement change before this problem is resolved. This problem is not just Egypt, for example I have heard old cavalry stables and the practices they did back then, would be seen as barbaric in this day and age. Keeping horses tied in long lines twenty four hours a day, with barely enough room to move, because you had to pack maximum amount of horses into a barn, not to mention also the practice of bleeding (still have heard of this happening recently in Australia and New Zeland for horses to pass drug tests), this was all still commonly practiced up untill world war II. The stories coming out of the Tennesee walking horse community (I know not all TWH people are bad, don't worry) are sometimes more horrific, than what I've seen here and this is in a civilized country. In fact in my text books it even talks about certain practices for loading horses which are now completly out of date and considered cruel. Change takes time, and I think yelling loudly how wrong someone is, is the fastest way to get them to shut down to the ideas and opinions you are trying to encourage. If someone came to me in my country and told me I was doing it all wrong and that I was a bad person for doing what I thought and considered was good and successful for myself and my family, I would want to give them the fingers and tell them to F*&k the hell off. So when I look on facebook, and see all the comments about how horrendous these people are (ie. what they do (and don't do for that matter) to their horses and animals), I worry that all we are doing is makng the people we want to help, shut down to our ideas, and consequently preventing any chance we have of actually making progress.