Thursday, April 3, 2014

Guest Post: No longer strangers.

By Ian Stubbs

I feel very privileged to be asked by Ifrah to be a quest contributor on her blog. It has been very good to be a friend on Facebook as I have very happy memories of a visit to Pakistan in 1983 (before Ifrah was born!) which included two overnight stays in Karachi. I had gone to Pakistan as an independent witness to gather evidence in support of some Pakistani men who had settled England and who wanted to bring their wives and families to join them and were being obstructed by the immigration authorities. I spent nearly two weeks based in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir, visiting small communities along the shores of the Mangla Reservoir. I was able to bring back photographic and recorded evidence from interviews and school records and the wives and children of six men were given leave by the immigration tribunal to come to England as a result. 

It was a wonderful experience which I will never forget and the people I met were so friendly and hospitable. But it was also an important experience for me of cultural shock - of being alone in a very different culture from mine and not being able to speak the language. At times I felt a very long way from home.

This is, of course, the experience of many people who are refugees and immigrants and often the experience of those who live with disability. Just recently in England a woman who was born deaf was able to hear due to a cochlear implant. This is a surgically-implanted electronic device that can improve hearing by stimulating the auditory nerve. An implant cannot restore hearing to normal but it does give the sensation of sounds. The woman described how, “The first day everybody sounded robotic and I have to learn to recognise what these sounds are as I build a sound library in my brain.” Deafness not only hinders the person’s ability to communicate but there is often a social stigma which can increase isolation. In many religions ‘deaf’ and ‘blind’ are abusive, derogatory terms. In Christianity deafness historically was associated with demonic possession. Now our ideas of God have to evolve in the light of modern scientific understanding and development.

It is so easy for each of us at any time to become socially isolated and vulnerable, to be misunderstood, to experience prejudice or hostility – because we are different. But the glory of humanity is that we are all wonderfully made and amazingly different. Social media like Facebook can be used to stigmatize and hurt, but also offer great possibilities to increase our understanding, empathy and compassion. Let’s do all we can together to leave this world a better place for our children and grandchildren.

Ian Stubbs is a Priest, grandfather, supporter of LGTBI rights, Palestine, from  Glossop, North Derbyshire, UK. He  plays saxophone, and loves life.  
He tweets as @ iks1647

Photo credit :  Past Memories by Valentin Loellmann


  1. I enjoyed this post very much, thank you Ian and to Ifrah for sharing.

  2. I enjoyed this post, and I agree we each must do what we can to make this world a better place.

  3. "Social media like Facebook can be used to stigmatize and hurt, but also offer great possibilities to increase our understanding, empathy and compassion."
    I wish that social media is used mainly for such purposes.

  4. Especially enjoyed your memories of Pakistan visit(s)...and how you felt. The one time I was in a country foreign to me, I experienced the same, although I thought I could get alone with everyone.

    Found myself at a party of about 40 people, all who knew each other well, realatives and long-time friends. But it was the most lonely several hours of my life. My father was deaf-blind, and so I fantasized myself as unseeing and hearing. Actually I had a very small taste of what his life might have been...Thanks Ifrah for having a guest--what a great idea! And thanks Ian Stubbs for complying. Interesting reading.
    PEACE and LIGHT.

  5. i really really enjoyed the post :) Glad you shared it :D

    I wud be happy if you check out my latest post too

  6. Great guest post. It serves as an eye opener.
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Lovely post! Enjoyed reading it - if only we had more people like this. Thanks