Monday, July 21, 2014

The Worst Betrayal

Some time ago I wrote a small piece about Trust. It was a reflection on the the notion of 'not trusting anyone'. The basic premise of the piece was that we all trust a myriad of people, and things, and if we didn't we wouldn't get very far in life. This doesn't mean that there are plenty of people that we shouldn't, or can't, trust. I still believe that the people we can trust are in far greater numbers than the ones that we can't. There are always going to be untrustworthy people and the level of mistrust is always going to be a sliding scale that depends on the actions of the other, their reputation, and our expectations that we put upon them. When trust is lost there is always the possibility that trust can be regained. Sometimes that possibility is faint or remote. It usually takes a lot of work by the person, or persons that acted in a way that resulted in trust being lost. It is also very hard work for the person who was betrayed. Forgiveness sounds like it is so very easy but we all know from experience that forgiveness is one of humanities greatest challenges. I think that the worst betrayal of all is when children put their trust in adults, and the adult world that they find themselves in, and that trust is shattered. Small children are so open and trusting in everything that adults tell them. They absorb all manner of information from adults. Sometimes that information is in the form of a lie. The 'white lie' can serve a practical purpose, but as lies slide into darkness they become far more destructive. The instances of children being betrayed by adults are so numerous that they can't all be listed here. Not every loss of trust has to be a direct betrayal. Many children trust that their parents will protect them. Many parents die doing just that. Many parents die with their children from circumstances that are out of their control. Every tiny hand that reaches out to be held is an act of trust. Children trust that their Mum will get them across the road. They trust that Dad won't swing them too high. Many children trust that there will be food on the table. They trust that their house will keep them safe. Their parent's assure them that it's OK to ride their bike or that there are no sharks where they are swimming. We tell our children that 'there are no monsters...not really.' and it's safe to go back to sleep. The Children trust us so much that they follow us, almost, anywhere. We trust in others too and we trust in 'fate' that no harm will come to them. Many people trust in their god or some higher order of things. We tell our children it is safe to play soccer on the beach...we assume that it should be. We send them off to school, or on a trip away, and assume that they will be fine. They hop in a boat or a car and trust that we will take them safely from A to B. We hold their hands and assure them that science and physics will keep the plane in the air. Is all that trust misplaced? Should we trust more in the random nature of things? Should we trust in the greater plan that our gods have for us...even if the plan may seem cruel and heartless? Should we tell our children to expect the worst and be surprised by the best? Is it really our job to crush the wide eyed optimism we see in our children's eyes? Can we trust ourselves to build a better world? I trust that we can do it. I don't pretend it can be easy. It will take love, compassion, understanding, and openness. It will take a lot of hard work by so many generations. The hardest part of all will be to forgive. Our children are trusting in us. Let's take their hand and lead them into a brighter future. image source

Saturday, June 07, 2014

The War to end all Wars 2014 is a year that marks two very important anniversaries. It is one-hundred years since the start of The Great War, the War to end all Wars (It is sad to note that this title became redundant in later years). War did not, and has never, ended. Within two decades the 'War to end all Wars' would be supplanted by it's deadly sequel, the Second World War. The 'Great War' became World War One… and it's bastard child took the title of World War Two. 2014 also marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. The battle that turned the war and led to liberation of Europe and the defeat of the Nazi menace. Now is a time to reflect on these events and their long term echoes and ramifications. Many a word has been said about the momentous events that shaped the 20th Century and continue to shape us today. Many a word will be said to mark the anniversaries too. Any war requires many words to be waged and many words to fathom once the war has reached an end. What else are we left with, when we turn on ourselves, other than words? It is the power of words that shapes the world around us. The human imagination seems limitless. When the power of the imagination is set free it can create the most amazing things. It is both, our greatest gift, and our most dreadful curse. The volume of creativity unleashed by our imaginations is only ever matched by our gift for imagining destruction. Words, and the power to control and deploy them, is our greatest tool. It is no mistake, or coincidence, that the English language is so vast, far reaching and powerful. It is the mark, the record, the echo of the largest empire to date. We talk of a time of peace and prosperity that exists between wars. We seem to be living in a time of (relative) peace. It may seem to be a time of peace but we are in the midsts of a war. We are living within a War of Words. George Orwell (1984, Animal Farm) warned us of the power of words and how they can be manipulated and used as weapons and as the basis of slavery and subjugation. Orwell imagined a language that could be twisted, diminished, and refined. Language used to control and contrive, to deny, and obfuscate. The worlds imagined by Orwell have come to life. We live in a time where there are 'people' and 'boat people'. This is a definition designed to delineate. These classifications help us understand the world around us. Just like the terms 'human' and 'sub-human', 'Australian' and 'un-Australian'. It is of utmost importance that we understand how words are used to define and shape our world. How else are we to know the difference between 'lifters' and 'leaners', 'employed' and 'un-employed', 'deserving' and 'un-deserving'? We need to clarify who is an 'Aussie' and who is an 'Aboriginal', who is 'rich' and who is 'poor, who is 'left' and who is 'right'. It is important that we know the difference between 'land rights' and the 'right to land'...the difference between 'flora' and 'fauna' , 'cargo' and 'passengers', 'queues' and 'queue jumpers', 'vilification' and 'racism', 'occupied territory' and 'territory', 'tax' and 'levy'. We have to be vigilant and wary when language is being used to control and direct us. Are we being talked into creating a world that we would want for ourselves or our children? Are we advancing humanity? Where are we headed and who is leading us? The time has come to be very alert. We've seen where words can lead us we know their power. We can choose our words wisely and we can choose a better world.