ChainWe come unto this earth, shooting head-first blind and wet so much like one link in a chain of boundless length. From this bundle of sopping joy we start, through an unknown life to live, and to the ultimately nameless soil to return. Each one of us the carrier of a unique cargo, an heirloom passed through us down the line of the ever-growing snowball.

By our individual nature, this process barely perceived, our awareness owed to thousands of like and dislike minds to-ing and fro-ing year on year. The same questions asked by all, answered by so few. Why am I here, where did this all come from, where do we go? Each person at the end the same, but each life lived for ones self. I am me, a bubble surrounded by blades, survival paramount. For me alone I toil for food and water and air. To what end? Why of course to carry my cargo, to complete the circle of my link, to join what has come before me to what will no doubt come after. All the while, today is all, an island separated from the bygone by history and from what is to come by chance. The past has come and gone and today, the gentle slope from there to here mutated into a bluff, then and now. The connection missed by so many minds, but felt by each and everybody. But when informed by the words of the great and gone that today is really no different than yesterday, and that indeed yesterday has lead to this day, the apparently jagged link between now and then suddenly flat lines. For now simply becomes a blip, a jump, a skip for me and only me on this great ocean. Now I see that I am the sum of my forefathers, both from my line and others. For sure I have my mother’s nose and father’s hair, but to who do I owe my thoughts? To God? Perhaps. To my teachers? Directly, yes, but in the end, did their thoughts come not from their teachers, and theirs from theirs?. And is it not logical to learn from all those who have come before, and thus be taught. For in every way we are, but for most it is never seen. How can we be sat down to learn history, a dead woman’s story, when history rides and lives through everyone of us. The dates are crammed, the names squashed in, with a little space for remembering action too. But we seem to miss the thoughts, the second chain that ties us all together.

Then the thought; if I am just a blip, and you my friends and you my enemies are too but blips, are you not me and I not you? Where do I end and you start? Certainly with my flesh, your bones, but what of the mind. Are we all linked, joined in grand world union, one global cosmic spirit man. Or are our minds apart too?

But surely this all fades, if I consider that I may be you, and you may be me, should I not strive for us? Perhaps if I considered that I could wake one morning in someone else’s shoes, perhaps then I would help him, feed her, heal them. Perhaps then you would step from your carriage, open your doors and let the masses in. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. But why sacrifice the possessions of my self when I am me and you are you?

And so we struggle on, the rich getting fat and the poor thin, the fat few getting unhappy, and the many thin angry. No change in reality. Wrongs disguised and excused in the name of religion, or imperialism, or divine right. The worker still the slave, the master still holding the whip. The whip becomes the carrot, the carrot the stock option, but all so thinly veiled.

Surely there is another way. A single fire, started from so many sparks, lights the sky a fantastic red. Marx the mind, Lenin the muscle. Why not take the fat and spread it like so much butter, feed all, clothe all, house all. All for one and one for all it begins. The salvation of the poor worth the blood of the rich, no doubt. But once begun, where to stop, who is right and who has the right. Communist Red and blood, sweeping from east to Far East, a noble idea but so much harder to stomach now. The rich rebel from a far, sending in the poor, the muscle the army to rid the world of this evil and put back into place a much corrupted version of the former. The system now a puppet, controlled by those of so much power, so much wealth so much greed. Those who have forgotten that they too will pass as one more link in the chain sliding quickly through the narrow sights of the present. They will not be remembered as good or great or mad or bad, as they surely must see themselves, but tarnished they will no doubt be, for on their hands lies the blood and thirst and hunger of myriad others.

And how do we go forward? By jump and by start, by revolution followed by puppet peace followed by revolution, by endless generations of poor, dispossessed and tortured. Or should we not all together say, I am me, but by odds I could be you? Thus, should we not all treat each other as we wish to be treated our selves? I feel pain, sometimes to the core, so by what right do I inflict pain on the mind, body and soul of another. Is terror by the ruled not identical to terror by the ruling? Is not right and wrong, killing and stealing, the same for you as for me and as for them?

Let then the sword of awaking in another man’s shoes weigh heavy over the head of he who strays from the path of truth and compassion. For I am you, and by turns you are me. Need I say more, other than go with peace and love, my friend, my enemy.

Originally written 23rd August, 2003. Image by Darwin Bell on Flickr, shared under CC BY-NC.