The way I see it is this. If people spent more time looking with open minds and less time looking to find fault, they might be happier. They might actually find what they’re looking for.
See, those people down there, yeah those ones – the ones with the flaming torches. They’re looking for evil and they’ve decided what it looks like (which is a simple formula to them. “Different = Dangerous”) and so they’ve found something that sorta fits the bill, ignored anything that don’t and are acting on their assumptions. Plus you can guarantee a bloke down the tavern said or one of the elders said or THEY said. No-one knows which bloke, which elder, which THEY. It’s just got to be true. Cos the minute you say “whoa – hang on – who told you that? Where’s the proof?” suspicion will fall on you. So you don’t say nothing. And no-one says nothing and before you know it everyone’s got caught up in the moment and one set (a small set mind) is handing out flaming torches like they’re toffee apples and everyone just takes one co they don’t know what else to do. What are they? Ants? Bees? Sheep?
People say they’re the top of creation and look at them – hardly an individual amongst them, unless you count that poor wretch in the middle. She couldn’t get more individual, could she, bless her. That’s one woman who asked “why” too many times. “Why don’t we try this?” “Why do we always do it that way?” “Why don’t you just be yourself and stop worrying what other people think?” That’s what got her where she is now.
And see the people round the edges, yeah, I know, the smoke’s getting a bit thick. If you’re bothered now, best not stick around. But look – the ones that are hanging back, the ones that are thinking “why am I holding this torch?” “why is this a good idea?” “why do we think this will make things better?” Yes those ones – they’ll be next, mark my words. They’re gonna have to think quick if they don’t want to do the thing but also don’t want the others to know they didn’t.
Cos the thing is, people do think Why? But they think it the wrong way. They think “Why did the harvest fail again? Why is my cow barren? Why did my child die?” and then they look around and find someone to punish for it. Life’s short. Who can blame them you might say. But funny how no-one says “why’s the harvest been so good? Why have I got more calves than I can sell? Why is my child so strong and healthy its face glows like an apple?” and then find someone to praise for it.
That woman – what did she ever do? She wasn’t perfect. Who is? But you gonna to say that one little woman is guilty of everything that’s gone wrong – this year’s rain, this year’s non-stop rain, the cold, the crops rotting in the fields, the blue babies? You think they gonna say to their maker when they meet him – “oh that little woman – we thought she was bigger than you”? Nah – nor me pal. If someone could put that to them – see the folk on the outside, they’re asking themselves that right now and trying to fade off into the night – look that one’s put his torch out, that one is starting to cry a little. But most of the rest – I reckon now their blood is up now – if a voice came from Heaven they wouldn’t hear it or they’d blame the poor wretch herself for conjuring it up. See they’ve looked for me too but they won’t find me. I’ll miss her but nothing I can do to help now. Most respect I can show is by going away and not watching what they do to her. Best I can do is find someone else like her. Someone who don’t mind a companion that’s been battered by life and shows it but don’t think it’s the mark of the devil or nothing. Someone who knows how to ask “Why?” the right way.
But you and me, mate, we’re lucky cos we don’t waste time with talk. We may think “Why’s there no food? Why can’t I find somewhere warm and dry to sleep? Why is the only thing caressing me a pile of fleas?” but we don’t go and blame anyone. We think “there was food once – there’ll be food again. There will be shelter somewhere one day, there will be caress sometime” – and if not, well, that’s life innit. Us and them and the fleas and the sun coming up and the rain coming or not coming and birth and death and the whole shebang – it’s all life.
Come on, best stick with me mate. No point asking why this happened. It’ll happen till the end of time or until people stop looking to blame others and start looking inside themselves and learn to just accept the fleas along with the caresses. They’re lighting the pyre now.
Let’s go. Don’t look back. The sun always comes up. It always comes up.
Copyright 2016 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission