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Saturday, 14 May 2011

Half full

With the news full of fine example's of Man's inhumanity to Man, one could be forgiven for being fairly cynical about the basic decency of people in general. I'm here to tell you that, if you indulged that cynicism, you might just be barking up the wrong tree. Yes, the world does appear to be full of idiots asking us to believe that their particular version of faith demands that they commit despicable acts. People claiming to be Protestants, with no idea whatsoever of what that word actually means, send letter bombs to and attack personally an Irishman whose only real crime appears to be that he's a bit mouthy and doesn't like being asked stupid questions by journalists who ought to know better. 'Islamic' fundamentalists, ignoring the basic tenets of their scriptures, carry out appalling acts against other Muslims and those they deem to be the enemies of Islam. Despicable tyrants from Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain, Zimbabwe, Russia, China, the UK and all points East,West, North and South oppress and murder their own citizens on the pretext of maintaining 'law and order' (ignoring the basic illegality of their own actions). Neocons and their slavish disciples in the USA sneer at and ignore the poor and needy in their own nation, and demonise and urge attacks on other nations, apparently on the basis that that's What Christ Would Do. I could go on painting this bleak picture, but you get the point, I'm sure.

However, while this doesn't serve to make the Earth and its most intellectually advanced residents (although that's debatable) seem so terribly attractive, there are days when little incidents occur which serve to redress the decency balance somewhat. Today was such a day. To set the scene, Houston & Kilellan Church were holding their annual fair. As usual, Jack McKechnie, an elder at said church and a good friend of ours, asked my wife Brenda if she would do her stint at the fair's bouncy castle between two pm and close of play. Jack does this because he's a nice guy and he knows how much Brenda loves this little once-a-year afternoon of fun. She's been doing it now for about eight years and never misses it. That's an act of kindness on Jack's part, but it's not the one I'm talking about. While we were looking after the castle, two kids from the same family were happily playing on the castle while their mother chatted to Brenda and me. Brenda happened to mention that she hadn't seen the stall selling strawberries and cream this year and that she loved this little treat. The lady in question pointed to a stall at the back of the area where we were and told us that was where the strawberries were being sold. Brenda was delighted, and we were making plans to send the errand boy (me) to get some when the kids reappeared carrying two tubs of strawberries and cream. Their mother, without a word to us, had kindly bought us them and sent the boys to deliver them. If you're reading this, by the way, nice lady, they were delicious and we deeply appreciated that random act of kindness.

Now, that might not seem to you to make up for all the awful qualities of humankind, but I beg to differ. For me, it's just another example of something I've seen over and over. On the basis that my personal experience has been to be the recipient of far more kindness than cruelty, then I must be driven to the scientific conclusion that there are many more nice people than nasty ones on this beautiful blue sphere. It's fact.

By the way, I had another little thrill when leaving the fair. I had my photograph taken holding a European Eagle Owl, the world's largest owl. It's a heavy bugger, I can tell you, but it is gorgeous, with amber ringed eyes and talons which can deliver a crushing strength of 600 pounds per square inch through those toenails. It can kill a deer. Up close, the power of its talons and beak are all too obvious. However, there is something of the divine about this creature. It has very soft feathers and lovely markings. It was a privilege to be allowed to spend a few minutes in the presence of its awesome beauty.

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