Leaving no one alive to light them again

Once we were a dynasty that ruled an empire that stretched from the Crescent Bay to the foothills of the diamond encrusted Mountains of Ahl. We were feted; we were emulated; we were feared.

Whole populations committed unspeakable crimes on their neighbours to amuse us and armies marched on hopeless quests just for the opportunity to die in our service. We prospered, setting ourselves up as rivals to the gods, building palaces in the sky upon the skulls of the vanquished.

Then came the plague, the lower classes died first, the poor and enslaved. We thought they died for our amusement as we continued our laughter and feasting, peering down from out of our high towers at the circling vultures and bloated bodies that were carried away by a river that flowed red with the peoples blood.

But as we slept on in drunken stupor the pestilence crept up the steps and entered our palaces, along silent passages it slithered, blowing out candles as it passed leaving no one alive to light them again. On it crept through guard room, kitchen, throne room and seraglio. It did not favour any one, just brought the democracy of death to all.

The illusion was shattered. Those of the people that survived saw that we were just like them and not the gods we had pretended to be. They were merciless, some of us wished that we had died of the plague it seemed a kinder end than fearing the wrath of the people.

Eventually we managed to flee, became refugees forced to wander the earth memories our only possessions, telling tales of how we used to be a dynasty.

Justice (or the rules of the playground)

This is not the blog post I intended to write; in fact I had written two poems which were all primed and ready to fly out into the ether. But they were both hate filled rants written during the endless hours of an insomniac midsummer night. And more importantly they ran contrary to what had left me feeling low in the first place; intolerance.

Yep, both pieces of writing were full of the same generalised intolerance against others that had led me to scream like a child “it’s not fair”.

When I was six a teacher said to my mother at a parents evening that I had a heightened sense of right and wrong, so perhaps it is naivety that still expects others to “play nicely” when experience tells me most people look on those rules as slightly archaic guidelines that were not written with them in mind.

So how have I coped as I have aged with this discrepancy between the rules and reality? Well none too well really. When adolescent hormones came on to the scene I initially fumed internally at the slights I felt myself subjected to and the inequalities I saw around me; but eventually I began to kick out violently at the world and in particular those I judged guilty of deeming me their inferior.

Adulthood meant I could no longer lash out and the rage disappeared under my skin where it seethed like a super-volcano filling me up with its toxic lava as I was subjected to individuals shouting “Me, me, me first” with every action I saw. But the six year old still rattling around inside of me screamed “it’s not fair!” when I judged a person had broken the rules by thinking that the world revolved around them and their whims.

And then I would go away, brood and label that person based on age/race/class/weight/hair colour or some other presumption.

“She won’t like me because the last girl laughed at me.”

“He won’t like me because he lives in that street and has the fancy trainers my parents can’t afford.”

“He’s a different race to me and my kind all know what they are like.”

“We don’t want them moving in next door.”

“They are a different religion to me…”

“But he’s gay!”

“But they live in social housing!”

“You don’t hang around with the kids from the remedial class.”

“She’s dyed her hair purple and pierced her tongue. She’s probably a druggie.”

I had become a person who prejudged; an effective self-defence against letting anyone close enough to hurt me but a complete betrayal of the six year-old with the heightened sense of right and wrong.

My poem The Chameleon posted on this site ends with the question: Do you see me? Well the answer would have to be a resounding No! I had completed lost sight of other people behind all the labels I had tagged them with. I had begun to think of my fellows as an alien species, every one of those labels emphasised their differences to me and not our shared humanity.

 

When I was thinking of an appropriate quote to go with this article I initially thought of “All it takes for evil to prosper…”. Then I thought of Newton’s third law of motion “For every action…”. Before I finally settled on “Honi soit qui mal y pense” because it appealed to that six year old within me, as I had learnt it on a trip to the Tower of London, it is the motto of the Order of the Garter, “Evil be to him who evil thinks.”

This sums it up for me, evil begats evil, hate begats hate and intolerance breeds intolerance in an endless cycle of negativity that eats up every individual in its path. If you allow yourself to see only another persons’ differences to you, then pretty soon those labels come to dominate your perceptions of others, of course they will conform to the stereotype you don’t give them a chance to be anything else. So forget the negativity and embrace the possibilities.

Yes that six year old cried out that the world wasn’t fair and he was right. But that does not stop me from trying to make it a little fairer now. It’ll take a long time because it involves treating every single person I meet as an individual and as there are seven billion of us on this planet it’s going to take a long time.

But if I don’t give up the hate, then the hate is going to win and that is not fair.