A Little Bird and "No More Wars"
I’m not an American and, if I were, I would not be happy having to make sense of all this hoo-ha about who might be the next president. It is not looking very good, is it? Where’s the quality? Even John Kerry has said it is ‘an embarrassment’
BUT…as the dragged-out electioneering continues in the US, that vision of Democrat Bernie Sanders being surprised by a small bird interrupting his speech was just amazing. Pure gold, (as they say).
The gathered crowd (unsurprisingly) stood and cheered as the bird calmly perched on the lectern
“I know it doesn't look like it”, said Mr Sanders, “but that bird is really a dove asking us for world peace," he added, bringing the crowd to its feet once more. And then he said:
"No more wars!"
Hopefully the little bird will help to make that statement resonate across the globe.
Perhaps it was (is?) a message to the world.
So many pleas about stopping wars have been voiced over the years – indeed, over the centuries. Are we able to take heed of the little bird’s message – seeing that we have taken little heed of others’?
Wise people have spoken out about war and its stupidity and futility and unwise people have ignored the wise persons’ words.
Children know that war is evil and that war achieves little, so why can’t grown men (usually men) think likewise?
Wars that are raging now are costing the world dearly.
They are costing in terms of precious lives and livelihoods and health. They are wrecking civilization in many parts of the world.
And the proliferation of what is generally termed ‘terrorism’ is surely living up to its name by terrorising whole communities and entire countries.
I am still at a loss to understand what such terrorists are aiming to achieve, apart from killing people they think they must hate (for whatever reason).
While sorting out the document section of my computer, I came across these (below) statements concerning war. I have no memory of where or when I sourced them. Also I cannot remember whether I used them in a blog post in years gone by, or not. To anyone who has already read these gathered words in my blog or any other of my musings please excuse me.
But I have a current desire to repeat them all.
Here, I offer the words of wisdom:
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?”
― Mahatma Gandhi
“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
― Howard Zinn
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
― Albert Einstein
“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”
― Ernest Hemingway,
“Listen up - there's no war that will end all wars.”
― Haruki Murakami,
“All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal.”
― John Steinbeck
That (above) is certainly a favourite.
But, I think I’ll leave the last word to The Big Friendly Giant, otherwise known as ‘The BFG’ – seemingly a lightweight comment but it hits home with its truth:
“‘I is not understanding human beans at all,’ the BFG said. ……‘But human beans is squishing each other all the time,’ …... ‘They is shootling guns and going up in aerioplanes to drop their bombs on each other’s heads every week. Human beans is always killing other human beans.’ He was right.
Of course he was right and Sophie knew it. She was beginning to wonder whether humans were actually any better than giants.”
- Roald Dahl, The BFG
So, it seems that a fictional giant and a (real) little bird have more worthwhile knowledge than the whole world.
I hope we see Bernie Sanders’ little bird again soon.
“No more wars!” indeed.
I’ve taken the liberty of cutting and pasting a few items from recent news coverage. None of these reports was presented as big headline news, but maybe should have been.
I do not know how media people choose which news items to promote, but I am certain that at times (at least) they choose the wrong ones.
Yes, I know everyone loves a ‘warm puppy’ story or a spectacular vehicle accident – (maybe not enjoyed by the people involved) as long as there’s ‘footage’ of it. but…
What about these:
The Australian government has taken a wrecking ball to climate scientists at the CSIRO and has instead funded an “Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Growth Centre”.
We have just experienced the hottest February on record. Not the hottest February for x years, but THE HOTTEST FEBRUARY ON RECORD.
Perhaps we should be getting really serious abut tackling climate change and not promoting the problematic oil & gas. What do you think? Huh?
And… a recent report states: “…average temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere have breached the 2 degrees Celsius above “normal” mark for the first time in recorded history, and likely the first time since human civilization began thousands of years ago.* That mark has long been held (somewhat arbitrarily) as the point above which climate change may begin to become "dangerous" to humanity. It's now arrived—though very briefly—much more quickly than anticipated. This is a milestone moment for our species. Climate change deserves our greatest possible attention.”
But, then ‘hooray’ (well just a little bit) “….Oregon has become the first US state to pass laws to rid itself of coal, committing to eliminate the use of coal-fired power by 2035 and to double the amount of renewable energy in the state by 2040.”
These announcements - or statements - or reports – whatever you wish to name them – have appeared over the past week in our media. BUT, they are not announced in BIG HEADLINES, or as one of the FIRST bites of News on TV bulletins.
They are sometimes news items that are even hard to find, which I find disturbing.
“The National Water Commission has stated that coal seam gas mining risks having 'significant, long-term and adverse impacts' on water resources, including from depressurisation and contamination of aquifers. Longwall coal mining in the Sydney drinking water catchment has been found to have caused subsidence, cracking and draining of rivers, cliff falls, draining of swamps, and iron oxide pollution[. Open-cut mining dewaters aquifers, and often leaves damaging final voids that drain aquifers for centuries”.
And, how about this news?
Right now, we are on the verge of a potentially severe coral bleaching event as an underwater heatwave washes over our planet’s coral reefs. We’ve seen the first devastating signs of it reaching the Great Barrier Reef at Lizard Island, 220kms north of Cairns.
Well, at least that one (above) has hit the airwaves - a bit, but briefly…no doubt because it might affect the income of the tourist industry.
Most of the information I have mentioned here has been pushed to the sidelines of news announcements, while people stop and gawp and talk about the latest Kardashian ‘excitement’ over one of those moronic air-head’s desire to show how together she is by posting naked pictures of herself for all to see. Now THAT’S newsworthy!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, as the old saying goes….
“Donald Trump is the leader of a new, hate-filled authoritarian movement. Nothing would be more harmful to the idea of the West and world peace than if he were to be elected president. George W. Bush's America would seem like a place of logic and reason in comparison.”
What more is there to say about the decline and fall of OUR planet - and all our decency? So many examples. I could go on…
But, right now the truly dreadful happening in Brussels has overtaken all news.
What the teacher did...
I am one of those crazy adults known as primary school teachers. Sure, I’m not still doing it – teaching that is. I’ve retired now; retired from that particular form of performing, acting, worrying, juggling, kid-wrangling - but I still hold a strange view that I’m waiting for something; some sort of result, I suppose, from all those years and all those hundreds of quite ‘up close and personal’ companion style, all day, every day hard slog relationships with kids.
Re-reading Frank McCourt’s ‘Teacher Man’ book recently, I recognised my feelings in part of his ending statements. Although his teaching days were before mine and in a different country, with him spending years wrangling teenagers in USA, while I began my stint of wrangling small-fry in primary schools of Victoria, Australia, there exists a similarity.
Near the end of his reminiscences of teaching days, McCourt fantasises, saying “One day one of your gifted students will win a National Book Award or a Pulitzer and invite you to the event, and in a brilliant acceptance speech, allow as how he or she owes it all to you. ..”
I had to agree. It's a great fantasy!
Yes, where was – or where is – that (even one) amazing result and earth-shattering outcome from my earnest years of teaching, caring, worrying and trying my best to improve the lives of the young people in my charge?
I guess people could say that the reward in teaching is to witness the successes of the pupils in your care. And that’s true. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not seeking any medals or special commendations. I thoroughly enjoyed my teachings years – and the children with whom I spent those years. But I guess I’m a bit like Frank McCourt, just wishing – not for a Pulitzer Prize for any ex student, but it would be very nice to know for sure that a year spent with me as their teacher had some defining and positive effect on those hundreds of kids.
Not so long ago, I attended a funeral of a dear old friend, whose grandson I had taught some years before. He had been a troubled lad and his grandmother had put in a request to the school that this boy be placed in my Grade 4 class. Grandma had confided in me about the boy’s difficulties at home and suggested that my influence and care might help him cope with life as well as school work. Dutifully I did my best with this child (involving certain amounts of blood, sweat and tears) and have to say, achieved reasonable success.
When I saw this (now grown) young man at his grandmother’s funeral several years later, I approached him, almost expecting an embrace.
Hello, Craig, I said, How are you?
Oh, hi, Mrs Richards , was Craig’s reply.
I’m not Mrs Richards: He hadn’t even remembered my name.
I have written about another boy, “A Year With Billy”, (which can be found in my non-fiction section) which tells of a similar outcome.
So, what did I expect? What do I expect?
Am I still waiting?
Certainly I had been occasionally on the receiving end of thankyou messages – mainly from parents. And I have received messages from two former pupils who have taken on teaching as careers, so I suppose that’s something.
And, yes, a smart young Melbourne doctor treating my elderly mother eventually realised that it was the mother of her ‘old’ teacher who was in her care and offered some very nice words to say about me. So, that’s another something, I suppose. And she’s a doctor!
But, hey…when I’m watching the evening TV news lately I sometimes see a former pupil who has (through some unimaginable process) metamorphosed into a national politician.
Mr Muir, do you remember your old teacher? I suppose not.
Why we need the Gym
More and more people are joining a gym. Why do we need to do that? To keep fit? To keep slim? Generations ago gyms were not heard of except occasionally in a school.
But nowadays, with little physical labour expected of us as we go though our day, to keep fit we are expected to go to the gym.
Walking past our local tennis courts, I see the coaches & their pupils taking turns in collecting the tennis balls that lie around the courts. Well, yes, they are exercising by playing tennis, but to pick up the balls they have a long tube which somehow just picks or sucks up the balls as one end is placed on it. No bending the knees or arm stretching needed.
The golf course in our neighbourhood is a-buzz with electric buggies carrying the ‘sports’ men & women chasing after the little white balls they have hit. I suppose there’s a bit of exercise needed in clambering on and off the buggy seat – and a small walk to the putting green but no longer the long walks of the old golf-playing days.
It gets worse:
Time and ‘labour saving’ items at home are becoming laughable.
Who buys ready-chopped onions?
Well, apparently a lot of people, as there are packets of them filling freezer compartment in supermarkets. Same goes for most vegetables: chopped up broccoli, carrots etc.
Then there’s the grated cheese. Too much like hard work to grab a grater and a block of cheese and use a bit of man-power?
And…was that true, the news I saw in social media the other day? Shops in USA (where else?) selling pre-peeled oranges! (Sealed in plastic containers, no less!) Oh, such a messy effort to remove the peel from an orange! How did we ever do that?
Then there are all those household appliances – including the TV: does anyone even remember having to actually get out of a chair to change channels or alter the volume? No way!
Even the kitchen sink, for heaven’s sake has a lever tap (no need to use the wrist and turn anything) not to mention a plug that sits waiting for a tiny push to set it in place. No more bending down to search under the cupboard to find the blessed plug. It’s there already.
In many homes both indoor and outdoor lights turn on when someone walks by or into a room.
Of course, washing machines and dishwashers do away with much physical labour. None of that old wrangling – not even a turning of a large knob – just a wave of a hand over some symbols. Some people actually use up energy and still lug out a basket of damp clothes to a washing line, but most seem to transfer washing directly into a dryer.
What about those robot vacuum cleaners. Do they really work? Stupid things!
The car is so automatic that it has ‘cruise control’, eliminating the need for foot movement on the accelerator – and headlights that turn themselves on when it becomes a little dull. AND even windscreen wipers that know when it’s raining!
So, these smart ‘self-driving’ cars we are hearing about cannot be too far away.
The garden hose has a trigger lever on the nozzle, therefore no running back and forth to the tap or wrestling with the hose in an attempt to bend it to stop the flow.
In the bad old days when people wanted to get rid of flies or mosquitoes they used up some energy by pumping away at the old tin poison dispenser. Then came the push button aerosol insect spray. Now it’s an automatic (poison) dispenser mounted on a wall (not on my wall, though!)
Sure, some old time routines did save people energy when grocers called and delivered orders and shop keepers used to fetch and carry, which is in contrast to now when we are expected to look for and select items and deal with them all the way until we lug them inside at home – including the check out (humph!) which is a different sort of progress, I suppose.
But, all in all, we are either a lazy lot or technology has simply altered our lives greatly. Whatever, it seems as if it’s the gym or go back to the past, which is possibly not a good move.
Did someone say ‘move’?
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.