There are magnificent trees in the park where I walk each afternoon. One particular tree (photo) entices me to stare up into its braches almost every time I walk by. I don’t know what made me look up the first time, but it has become a sort of peaceful symbol for me - and my part of the world. The tree’s arm-like branches make patterns so delightful that I can make out different scenes every time I stare up to see their silhouette against the (nearly always) blue sky.
Lately when I look at ‘my’ tree, it makes me ponder the beauty in the world as it fits (or not fits) into the ugliness of what is happening around us, as far as the horror of war, hate and terrorism.
There are many poems and songs written in praise of trees. Trees have inspired words of beauty and love and I can’t help but think that being surrounded by trees, with their beauty and peacefulness, would be an ideal antidote to hate and war.
But what an impossible – and far too simplistic - notion!
Often lamenting situations leading to children being denied the wonders of the sea-side and other delights of nature, I also despair of situations that prevent so many people from experiencing any wonders of the natural world. It must be hard for those for whom Mother Nature and the natural environment are only an impossible dream: an unknown.
Lately,television news bulletins are almost too awful to watch, as parts of the world disintegrate with fighting and chaos; with wars that kill and maim: hate one against another.
But I am still able to stroll through a park and gaze into tree tops.
I am indeed a fortunate person to have (in the lottery of life) been born in a place of relative peace - and to have the ability to stop and stare into the branches of a beautiful tree whenever I wish.
And I sigh for those who can’t do likewise.
What are we to do? I certainly have no answer but worry about the wisdom of using violence against violence - and declaring war as the only response.
I don’t know, but hatred and fear – added to more hatred - will surely only achieve more hatred and fear and on and on and on….
For me, the old phrase from ‘Hair, the musical’ raises its banner in my mind once more, saying: ‘FIGHTING FOR PEACE IS LIKE F---ING FOR CHASTITY’.
True, true, true.
But what is the solution? What else can anyone do?
Hatred has permeated so many parts of the world and the haters, showing little care for others - even their own, are using gullible, naïve youngsters to do their dirty work; to die for the cause.
And the cause is hate.
Hate of ‘the other’.
One has to wonder at the depth of their anger that any – and all - empathy for others has been obliterated.
Is it too late to show a path to peace? Sadly I think it is.
I have always said that ‘love is all that matters’ but it no longer seems that love is enough.
(Ignoring the parts about God), the last verse of the old ‘Tree of Peace’ song seems too hopeful right now, but I will include it, nevertheless.
‘Then shall all shackles fall; the stormy clangor
Of wild war music o’er the earth shall cease;
Love shall tread out the baleful fire of anger,
And in its ashes plant the tree of peace.’
Some time ago, in my blog, I wrote the following words:
“Been to the sea-side lately? I live near the sea, so it is something I (almost) take for granted. It worries me that there are people (especially children), even in developed countries, who have never seen the sea; who have never seen the ocean and the wide blue sky overhead.”
I can’t remember how long ago it was that I wrote those words and I am too lazy to search through records to find out. But they popped up in a ‘memory stick’ that I was using for another purpose and I re-read the whole blog entry and thought again on what I had written.
I had written about the sea having the ability to bring refreshment to our souls. I also mentioned the sadness I felt on realising that there are people who never see the sea; who never experience that wonderful feeling of walking along a sandy beach, with sea breezes ruffling hair and skin and seagulls wheeling overhead.
But I am especially now thinking of children.
Sadly there are children who spend their entire lives in cities; some children know nothing but city life – and that can’t be a good thing.
Even more sadly, there are children currently held in immigration detention centres simply because their parents have fled war and terror and have attempted to find a peaceful place for their families to live – to survive.
Any chance of these children frolicking by the sea-side is not even on the radar.
Our Australian government locks them up, behind razor wire in centres resembling prisons.
And I worry about these children. When is it their turn to run along a sandy beach?
To build sandcastles? To gather shells?
To frolic in the sand and waves, calling out to friends?
When is it their turn for the chance to bring refreshment to their little souls?
How can we be part of this terrible cruelty to anyone? And how can we let children be treated like this?
Children belonging to asylum-seeking families are condemned to living a life that no one should have to endure. Sure, I know and understand that there must be some sort of assessment of these refugee families and their reasons for fleeing their country of origin. But how long should that take?
Australia has spent billions of dollars on locking refugees up. Billions, not millions! (Over one billion in this latest financial year alone).Surely a few million dollars could ‘get the ball rolling’ and employ appropriate people to make the assessment process quick and efficient.
Is that too much to ask?
Meanwhile days turn to weeks. And weeks turn to months. And months turn to years and still these children wait for their chance of unrestrained joy; of freedom to be able to play in the presence of nature - at the sea-side or anywhere.
In my opinion, that is every child’s right.
In a description of how refugee asylum seekers are being treated on arrival in Macedonia from Greece, we read that people are being crowded into train carriages at gun point, by soldiers exhibiting ‘contempt’ and ‘ferocity’.
Children are being roughly separated from their parents. The asylum seekers try not to complain as the soldiers ‘strut and smirk’.
The words come from the British writer, A.A.Gill, who is witnessing these scenes.
A.A.Gill goes on to write: ‘There is something about this moment, in this filthy field, with the clutching of children and luggage, that conjures a ghostly remembrance.’
I thought we were supposed to learn from the mistakes of the past! This is not something we are reading about that happened n 1941. This is happening right now, in late 2015.
How are we allowing it?
Is it because we do not allow ourselves to see these desperate people as human beings – like us? Is that our protection? Our excuse?
Mr Gill later states, ‘It is only possible to put up the no-vacancy sign if you don’t see who’s knocking at the door.’
Maybe that’s the truth.
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.