A world of hurt

news: A world of hurt

I AM a man of a thousand wishes, a child speechless in the biggest sweet shop in the universe, a cripple vocally inarticulate. I am not from Mars, I come from somewhere infinitely further away, a place I have long forgotten.

My dreams have many colours. While awake, I often hear the horns of Jericho, but the walls never, ever fall. I am a prisoner of my own device, a professional fugitive, running, yet never able to escape – from myself.

I seek refuge in all manner of things, build castles in the air, but the ship from which I was never marooned remains an elusive spectre. The boy has grown but has remained a spectator, jealously guarding his spirit, the cork sitting firm, akin to that sealing a bottle of rare vintage, never to be tasted. A silent plea in brimming eyes is my solitary offering, a hint of humanity in a vacuum encased by steel.

Someone, I never remember who, once said: “It’s better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all.” What is love? On a personal level, we must distinguish between lust, infatuation, paternal ties, desire and possession – yet none of these are “love”. Love is something created and packaged to sell books and films, a pink substance not unlike a food additive, to give taste and colour. Love is a tie.

“Love thy neighbour” the bible tells us and I am sure that the Koran and other holy scriptures extol similar virtues. Does anyone though? I don’t. They come home at three in the morning, have loud arguments and dump their rubbish on the front lawn. Other people do love their neighbours and divorce rates are soaring. No seriously, do we live our lives extending the hand of friendship? I think not.

Our Gods have become selfishness, greed and self-preservation. The whole world is at war with itself on different levels, causing hurt and being hurt directly and indirectly. And the few crazed and misguided zealots apart, the ultimate victims are you and I. Unfortunately, it all boils down to mankind’s inability to give, to love. Love is a commodity to be traded, a counter on the bargaining table of human relationships.

“No pain, no gain,” they say. I am afraid that we are all in for a great deal more prolonged pain before meriting any sort of “gain”. The path to betterment and spiritual “largesse” is clear, but we continue to fight in the wilderness.

These charges, brought against myself as much as anyone, apply individually as they do globally. And, please, don’t throw your church at me, that temple of all-seeing goodness, radiant in its halo of love and forgiveness. Go there if you must, refuse to look, take shelter, but don’t expect my blessing. We all have our personal deity something we believe in, and turn to, for guidance in times of need. But I don’t hold with paying lip service to institutionalised hypocrisy. And then there are the demons.

Open any newspaper or switch on the television and you are confronted with ample proof of just how far removed we still are from beginning to love one another. I won’t even start to talk about the organised, legally sanctioned mass killings that blight every single day of our history in some part of the world or other. War is not civilisation, war is not love. War is savage, inhumane and inexcusable, regardless of how it is justified or “marketed”. Yet nations, supposedly “highly developed”, still indulge in this barbarism. The collective actions of a political entity sadly also reflect the individual values and behaviour of its citizens – normal people, in other words, you me, the guy next door.

In Britain, they don’t hang people anymore and, in France, the guillotine was last used in 1974 to decapitate a fellow human being. In America, the state is still happily killing people, in the name of the people, every year administering lethal injections and tying them to electric chairs. The popular holiday destination and scene of the second Formula One race of the current season, Malaysia, has carried out 359 executions in the past 24 years. Progress there is defined by a 75 per cent pay rise for hangmen. These enviable souls now earn close to 100 euros for each “job” well done. Compassion consists of “gentle” floggings for illegal migrants – warders pocket two euros per lash administered.

But I suppose this show of love pales into insignificance if compared to a recent example of Iranian “justice”. Mohammad Bijeh, dubbed “the vampire of the Tehran Desert”, was caught having kidnapped, raped and then killed 21 people, including 16 children, over a long period of time. Of course these were acts of extreme evil, surely only capable of being carried out by a seriously sick mind, a case for psychiatric help, possibly lifelong institutionalisation. Not in Iran. Around 3,000 people gathered in the main square of Pakdasht, chanting “harder, harder”, as Bijek was lashed 100 times. Remaining silent throughout his ordeal, the criminally insane man was then stabbed in the back by the brother of one of his victims, and slapped around the face and cursed by the mother of another. To complete the orgy of revenge, Bijeh, half dead, was then hanged from a crane, a common form of execution in Iran that does not involve a swift death as the condemned prisoner’s neck is not broken.

This is not pleasant reading, but just one scenario all too common in this grim and loveless world that we call our home. And, before you say, “ah but not here”, inhumanity and hate reside everywhere. A pensioner hacked to death in a North London street, a cyclist senselessly stabbed, a multiple killer eating his own victims’ brains in Broadmoor, being just three examples of last month’s gallery of horrors in England.

Where does that leave us? We need to change the world, but where do we start? The revolution must come from within. A slow and painful process, a rebirth accompanied by silent screams. What emerges, I hope, I will one day be able to call “friend”. Until then, I take leave from this world of hurt, its candyfloss dressing, masquerading under the guise of love, and continue to follow the path that has no end.

P.S. On a happier note, it seems that ducks do know how to love. A drake named Jake had been evicted from his home at the Kentisbury Grange Country Park in North Devon to a farm eight miles away. His crime was that of being over amorous, fathering 23 ducklings in a year, in addition to pursuing anything from peacocks to turkeys. Undeterred, Jake escaped and embarked on an epic journey home to his mate Jemima, the mother of 16 of his brood. So fat that he is unable to fly, the love struck Romeo set out on foot waddling all the way. He survived snowstorms, crossed the A39 Barnstable to Ilfracombe road unharmed, swam the River Yeo and avoided all potentially fatal encounters with foxes. Reunited with his beloved Jemima, “Jake was immediately on the job again and that was after four weeks walking,” said owner Roy Schilder. “He must have inexhaustible energy and a very narrow outlook on life.” Now there is a tip for you on how to achieve a “happy life”!