flying snow

There is sleet sliding down the living room window, wind blowing down the chimney, silence in the house. My thoughts are grim.

There is so much broken around me,broken in me.

Someone called to the house last week, a single parent . Watching him drive off with the kids I thought how black and heart-breaking to loose someone you love but have to carry on, carry on, carry on picking up the pieces carrying on for the kids.

Thinking about it some more there are many single parents in ‘our place’. Then there are those who are currently separated from children not through choice, but because of having to flee persecution in their native land.
Imagine not seeing your children for many years ? Then imagine not being able to afford bring them over when free?
Then you keep picking up other bits of sadness  from an infinite sea and adding them together. Imagine that happening? What if that happened?
Spotting some report about the threat of bird flu on the corner of a website or wondering how we will cope whenever death comes makes me feel ill. Basically it’s scary out there. Basically I wonder how we’ll cope.

I appreciated reading this  Wendell Berry poem the other night in bed and for moment thought about the seeds I plan to plant in the garden come spring.
I’m not sure why the sight of garlic appearing through the water logged soil or imagining the smell of broad beans  calms me a little, but it does.

February 2, 1968

In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter,
war spreading, families dying, the world in danger,
I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.

Wendell Berry

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doing something that won’t compute

This day 10 yrs ago Facebook was born and that particular milestone( millstone?) has been making me think about my relationship to the labyrinth.

It didn’t take much reflection.
It is not a particularly healthy relationship. I am an addict.
Some people can’t control the amounts of alcohol they drink, the amount of food they eat, the amount of stuff they want to acquire at a cost to other people.
Some people can control the amount they use Facebook while I can’t.

Bearing that in mind it seems like a good day to leave.It’s not meant to be a big drama, yet it is hard to pull the plug.
Why?
I suppose because I’ve invested in it.  Having a comment on something I’ve posted might have lifted my spirits when I was feeling low. Reading other things that people have posted have provoked me. There are lots of other things which I have appreciated.

Some of the negatives.
To often my identity over the past (7?) years has been tied up in my relationship to Facebook. It feels like a very close relationship, almost like it is part of me. Yet then things start verging too much into Google Glass territory.  I am not a robot. I am a human being, unpredictable and wild.
I do not want to live in a world where I am recommended books I might like based on what other people who liked similar books liked. I want to go into a second hand bookshop and fumble around before picking something because I liked the cover. I don’t have the same vision of where Mark Zuckerberg and other would like to go in the next decade:-

‘Today, social networks are mostly about sharing moments. In the next decade, they’ll also help you answer questions and solve complex problems.’

No thanks Mark, not for me!
In a way it echoes what Ed Snowden said about the NSA:-

‘I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.’

I don’t want to live in that sort of world either Ed!
And because I don’t want to live in that sort of world I need to learn how to stop doing the recording of myself and feeding them to computers data banks or whatever holds my information.
I don’t want to be processed and rated by computer programmes designed by technicians. We are more than that!

So to steal few lines  from my favourite Wendell Berry poem:-

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

and:-

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

economic warfare

‘To begin with the real ground of the military crown, I think we must first inquire whether warfare is proper at all for Christians…
Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword?
And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law?
And shall he apply the chain, and the prison, and the torture, and the punishment, who is not the avenger even of his own wrongs?
Shall he, forsooth, either keep watch-service for others more than for Christ, or shall he do it on the Lord’s day, when he does not even do it for Christ Himself?
And shall he keep guard before the temples which he has renounced?

And shall he take a meal where the apostle has forbidden him?
And shall he diligently protect by night those whom in the day-time he has put to flight by his exorcisms, leaning and resting on the spear the while with which Christ’s side was pierced?
Shall he carry a flag, too, hostile to Christ?
And shall he ask a watchword from the emperor who has already received one from God?
Shall he be disturbed in death by the trumpet of the trumpeter, who expects to be aroused by the angel’s trump?
And shall the Christian be burned according to camp rule, when he was not permitted to burn incense to an idol, when to him Christ remitted the punishment of fire? ‘
.
That was early church leader Tertullian writing in De Corona and just about the only bit I could just about understand. I was thinking about it as the word ‘competition’ crops up so much with regards to the economy. Often you hear it in  phrases like ‘We need more trained graduates to be competitive on the world market’  or how a factory might have to close its doors as it was no longer competitive on the world market.
People should seek re training if they are finding it hard to find employment. The reason is that it will give them a competitive edge over those other people seeking work. So you might have two equally capable people applying for a job but because one has spent money and applied themselves to doing a course they are deemed the more worthy and get the job.
Which is just another way of rewarding someone for being ‘stronger’ than another as he wasn’t lazy and applied himself more thoroughly that someone lazier.
 Those who aren’t as a strong will up their game and compete against their neighbour and suddenly everyone is a potential competitor and society will rise up and up like some type of super tower of Babel.

I used to read an essay called ‘Economy and Pleasure’ by Wendell Berry when I worked in my favourite DIY warehouse.

‘It is a fact that the destruction of life is a part of the daily business of economic competition as now practiced. If one person is willing to take another’s property or to accept another’s ruin as a normal result of economic enterprise, then he is willing to destroy that other person’s  life as it is and as it desire’s to be. ‘

This was the way of things. Basically at one level I was earning money but at the larger picture I was helping the large DIY warehouse try and destroy Woodies across the road or the other DIY shop’s in the area. The aim of game ultimately was to take market share from those other businesses and grow our market share. Or in other words to aim of the game was to win.

Perhaps it is a stretch but I always felt like a soldier in some type of warfare without guns or traditional weapons, but using a scanning gun instead. But the ultimate aim was the same, to grow and preserve the empire I was serving at the cost of the our enemies and to make more and more economic profit for the owners.

Maybe that’s a mad view of the world, and I know that it’s not simple. I know that many good people run fine businesses and make good decisions in difficult situations.   I admire people who have the balls to step out and take risks and wish I was more like that. Perhaps it’s a sign of my sinfulness that I’m lazy or something.
But it’s also my personal conscience I guess or something like that.