Tuesday, 9 August 2016

RUMI and a lesson for whistle-blowers.

RUMI and a lesson for whistle-blowers.
I can’t resist retelling this little story:
The tiny gnats who lived in the grass were being continually flattened by the South Wind and blown into the grass so that they could not fly.
The gnats went to King Solomon and told him they had a problem and asked him to pass judgement on their adversary and protect them from him.
“Of course,” replied Solomon. “Just tell me who it is who is oppressing you. Give me the offender’s name.”
“It’s the South Wind,” replied the gnats.
“I’d better see what he’s got to say for himself. He has to give his side of the story before I can make a judgement.”  
Solomon shouted to his servants: “Summon the South Wind.”
And the South Wind rose up, very angry with great commotion and fuss and whirled into Solomon’s court. And he blew the gnats away and away, even deeper into the grass again as he arrived.
Rumi doesn’t say whether Solomon offered any judgement after this, because the complainants were nowhere to be seen and their voices had been silenced. And my guess is that the South Wind was making too much noise for anyone else to he heard anyway.
There are plenty of gnats in our society, and some of them are tiny and very easily silenced. However, remembering New Zealand's secret weapon, sand-flies, I know that even tiny gnats have an ability to irritate and drive insane those who ignore them. It takes a while, but eventually we have to pay attention to them, and get Solomon to do the same. 
Political irritant gnats today include PRIVATE EYE,  POLITICAL SCRAPBOOK, and a large number of smaller ankle biters. Watching Parliamentary Question Time with all the braying and
public-schoolboy jeering and bullying is sometimes like watching Rumi's story enacted all over again.

Watch out, South Wind.





'It takes all sorts to make the world' (Mother's favourite saying)

I've just spent a happy few days with a mixture of delightful people of different ages from Sweden, Spain, India and the UK. I won't embarrass them with names and places. Happily they all spoke English, which was just as well as my French and German are rusty, and my Spanish, Swedish and Hindi are non existent.

Since this was Creative Week, and it rained almost non-stop, the Swedes took to the woods with axes while the rest of us knitted strange things, fiddled with bits of paper and paint and made holes in tin cans to provide hanging lights for a forthcoming wedding.  Some of the wooden and stone creations in the woods will last a lifetime, especially the Gruffalo House, but in truth the weather held us back from being really adventurous, except in the shed where experiments with a burning log chimney were carried out. Did they work? Briefly. Actually, no.

Arranging discarded advertising material on a hillside and photographing it from above proved a little ambitious, as the tiny drone with the camera crashed, to the dismay of its owner, but in truth it was the conversations with members of the group that I shall remember.

What did we talk about?   The healing power of shrines in India, Brexit (of course), the difference between Catalan and Spanish, mental health, the benefits of art therapy for people with Parkinson's Disease, living in Dublin, percussion (drumming) as a career, family customs and religious ceremonies, food,  music, films - everything, in fact.

Since I live in a small, white, conservative market town, opportunities for interesting or enlightening conversations with other cultures and age groups seldom come my way, and the week reminded me of how much I miss 'difference' in other people;  for stimulation, different perspectives and fresh ideas. Plus the food, the music and the laughter. And the sense of belonging to the rest of the human race.