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Matthew Scurfield Turning the Stone, all rights reserved.



Restless by a mile, pacing the floor, hiding from the night, it’d be folly to count myself among easy sleepers.

Past, present and future, no matter who or what I conquer, whatever the distance, however high I climb, by foul means or fair, unless I cross the track to embrace the all-encompassing, almighty, vastness, a mass of conflict follows wherever I lay my head.

On the backend of a sleepless night, revenge seems sweet in repose...

Survival of the fittest saw playground bullies, and sadistic teachers, having the last word. In the same breath, my classmates and I were officially taught that the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life, was exemplified in British imperialism, taking civilisation, ethnicity and governance, across uncharted waters, to untamed continents and the wild beyond.

In certain pride, we learnt that our fellow compatriots, backed up by missionary elders, implicit in conquering the native inhabitants, with a sense of justice and moral authority, seized enough landmass, heaped our lawful and religious ways on enough of the world’s population, to make Britain the largest empire in the history of humankind.

At home, away, in school or out, the underlying conviction of those formative years, the ethos of that Darwinian theory, becomes a legacy for life, set in stone, hard to shake off, and for the best part impossible to live down. Any clarity and imagination the child may have retained, is thwarted, separated, twisted, and indelibly linked, into the same imperialistic plan that set out to override, deploy and in most cases, destroy the indigenous lifeline across the globe.

By 1878 European empires and their former colonies, through military might and cunning diplomacy, claimed control of 67% of the world’s landmass; in 1914 that imperial stake, driven hard into the ground, secured 84% of the cake. By the 1890s Europeans had sliced up 90% of Africa; the lion share made by Belgium, Britain, France and Germany.

We speak of evolving, building higher walls, better roads, longer bridges, but nothing it seems in the human sphere shifts that much. Our campaigning and tactics swing left to right, while we thrash about in offensive and defensive ruts, trying to outmanoeuvre, outsmart our neighbouring countries. Forcing their hand, toward our own social and economic advantage, we barter innocent lives, for a secure place in the history books, with a perfunctory salute to those lessons of antiquity that tally up the consequences.

After generations of controlling the other’s birthplace, reigning the waves, sucking the mother dry on route, governing and tenure have become untenable and the repercussions inevitable.

In July 2016, the UK government release a statistical report that proudly declares Britain as the second biggest arms dealer in the world, with most sales driven by war in the Middle East. In September 2016 UNICEF publish a document, “Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children”, stating that some 50 million children worldwide are forced to take terrifying journeys, fleeing their homes in frantic search of survival, thousands from war torn countries in the Middle East. Seeking refuge, swimming in poverty, they become victims of human smuggling, trafficking, and other extreme forms of abuse – bought and sold, as you would a piece of furniture, anything to get to the safe haven of that same said country that coincidently upholds the arms trade.

Orphans from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea and Kosovo, to name some, are crossed off the map, destroyed by power hungry ministers, who see human rights as nothing better than a flea circus, unashamedly seeking power behind a dutiful mask, dishing out leading backhanders, of lies and deceit.

The illegalities and political corruption make the numbers and outcome, for the ravishes of evacuees, difficult to pin down. Nevertheless, a recent UK government paper – Revue of the National Referral Mechanism for victims of human trafficking, tells us that lives lost, to slavery and trafficking, has risen dramatically in recent years. In 2016, the UN agency, International Labour Organization, gives a clearer indication, registering 21 million men, women and children as enslaved against their will, in debt bondage, or working in appalling conditions.

It’s a wonder our respective leaders find any sleep to calm the wounds of state... wherefore to quell the conscience of heart... sleep... balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nourisher in life’s feast…