‘When winter comes, the winter wild
that hill and wood shall slay;
When trees shall fall and starless night
devour the sunless day;
When wind is in the deadly East,
then in the bitter rain
I’ll look for thee, and call to thee;
I’ll come to thee again!’
Since the past two days I have been feeling sick to my stomach and generally in a state of being low. The nation is gripped right now in the turmoil generated by two brutal incidents, of people, by people, against people. I followed them as most do in the news, but sometimes the cases aren’t one of many, some speak to your jaded humanity, they make you move out of the darkness that experience and tired wisdom have harboured. They shake you and that cocoon of grey that has covered your life as you grow into not wanting to believe in blacks and whites. Sometimes, the mantle of lassitude brought on by the intellect is shaken from its own self-imposed fatigue and you are pulled up by the collar and shaken and shaken and shaken.
It’s an age-old metaphor I have fallen into. Having tried to reject the world’s problems –
because of all the inanity and cruelty that I have seen in it – the world tells me that she isn’t quite done with me just yet. I feel like Treebeard. I have lived and I have seen and I do not want to participate, but here comes Merry, frowning and demanding to know, “you’re a part of this world, aren’t you?” And I, as Treebeard, am stunned into empathy – something that I do not want to feel anymore. But I must.
I call onto my partner and speak about how I see his community, and my partner reacts by calling onto mine. We both stand offended. And I realise in that moment, what it means to be divisive. What it means to stand on the pretext of religion or faith or family or love or revenge and believe our actions are justified. If we love each other so, and even so, mention a divide and stand affronted, what if we didn’t know, or worse, disliked the other. How quickly could a warmonger get to us… will it be just a matter of time before we descend into violent thought or violence, or will our sanity and erudition prevail?
Am I so different because of the education I received and the Masters I earned? Has education created my mindset or was I always prone to open ended thinking? Was it my upbringing? My experiences? What I was told or taught? Am I rational? Am I emotional? Am I now being divisive?
I lost my faith and my hope over the course of 2013. I felt bewildered and lost. I looked at the cruelty of nature. I tried to understand it. Then I looked at the mean attitude of the justice system and was let down by those who are supposed to be unbiased and fair, within the confines of structured society. But then I learned that life, of course, isn’t fair, and never promised to be. We like to think we are civilized, but civilization is just a very thin veneer that can be torn down in a matter of seconds… Of all the times, I believed I felt ten times the fool. If I moved from humanity to animal welfare, I shuddered at the deepening futility – for if eight-year-old girls aren’t spared torture, rape and bludgeonings, how and in which tattered aspect of this society could I find a hope for an animal?
Humanity is hungry for blood and in so doing, has lost out on being humane. The ones who preached the word of tolerance, restraint and forgiveness are now part of a small mythology that no one seems to acknowledge. As I grow, I have no anger left in me to be passionate, I have no hope left in me to wait for justice, I have no conviction left in me to stand upright. Everything is grey now. Everything except love.
The thing that stands out in books and movies and themes and music – it does linger. The paradox is: the horror sets in because I can still love. Love makes me empathise. What if the girl was someone I loved? The horror of those four days. The confusion. The pain. The smells. The terror of knowing and yet not knowing. The utter horror. And then the horror of knowing that the ones who are capable of this terror did not feel the horror themselves. Did not feel the pain, did not understand what it means to be human.
The mind cringes. The heart wilts. I am lost.
“I do not like worrying about the future. I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you understand me…” But something has to give. I cannot be Treebeard and wait to rally others and wage war on Isengard. I cannot be Treebeard and let the fires of Isengard reach the ones I love. But one thing I know for sure: “The world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air.”
‘When winter comes and singing ends;
when darkness falls at last;
When broken is the barren bough,
and light and labour past;
I’ll look for thee, and wait for thee,
until we meet again:
Together we will take the road
beneath the bitter rain!’
‘Together we will take the road
that leads into the West,
And far away will find a land
where both our hearts may rest.’ “