Life - The Continuing Drama

Chapter Extract

'To live is the rarest thing in the world.

Most people exist, that is all.'

Oscar Wilde 1854 - 1900 (Irish playwright)

 

 

   "Many years ago a wise and learned elderly gentleman advised me to be an impartial observer of life. ‘Look and listen,’ he said very softly, ‘look at what people do, and listen to what people say.’ He paused awhile before continuing in the same gentle voice. ‘After a few years of observation you will understand the reasons for human misery and suffering.’ I took his advice seriously, not just because I respected him as a person, but because I sincerely wanted to know the reasons for human misery and suffering.

   So, over the following years I did just that, and observed people and life everywhere I went – In the supermarkets and the offices, on committees and at parties, in the trains and on planes, on the roads and the high streets, and at home and abroad. And do you know what? He was right, and I would like to thank all the thousands of men, women and children who unwittingly showed me the reasons why. Today, I am still an observer – and the reasons are still the same!

   If you have ever wondered why there is so much turmoil and suffering on this planet, I will reveal the reasons to you as the quest unfolds because it is a very important piece of the jigsaw. To help you find the answers before my revelations, I would like to set you a little task and remind you of it in a later chapter. Let yourself be an impartial observer of people and life say, just for one month, be it at work or play. Have no opinions or prejudices – just observe! If it helps, you could always imagine you are a visitor from another planet that has come to observe and report on the human race and life here on Earth. 

   Everyone, be they young or old, wise or foolish, has something to teach us, and I have always remembered the old sayings: ‘Those who stand before me are my teachers’, and ‘The wise man always learns from the fool, but the fool never learns from the wise man’. 

   Now, here comes the crunch. Whilst you are being an observer of life, may I ask that you also be an observer of yourself? Observe your own thoughts and actions for a while. They may well surprise you, and you may even learn something about yourself and life’s enigmas in the process!

 

'The unexamined live is not worth living.'

Socrates 469 - 399 BC (Greek philosopher)


Life in the Raw

   There are 7 billion of us – increasing at the rate of 100 million every year – all living on a tiny dying ball of rock called Earth, which according to the latest, scientific, geological and astronomical studies is at least 4,500 million years old. It is hurtling through space at 67,000 miles an hour, and spinning on its inclined axis at 1,000 miles an hour on an elliptical orbit that takes approximately 25,920 years to complete. All this is taking place in our little Galaxy we call the Milky Way, which in itself is billions of miles across, this in turn is also revolving within the Cosmos which houses billions of other galaxies, that are billions of light years apart!

   This is the setting in which we play out the drama of everyday life, and I have often wondered how many of us are aware of our galactic heritage. Have you ever stared into a night sky full of glistening stars and wondered whether we are the only life forms in such a vast and indescribable void? Many have stated that it sure puts earthly problems into perspective! 


   So, let us stand back and scrutinise our predicament down here – warts and all. Let us be brave enough, just for a moment, to see our world for what it is. Not what we would necessarily like it to be – what it actually is – whether we like what we see or whether we don’t.

   The study of history shows us that for thousands of years we have lived on a violent planet torn asunder by the ravages of Nature and the atrocities of war. The last 100 years alone has seen horrendous global carnage inflicted on a very war-weary populace. Technology doesn’t appear to have made us more civilised; we have merely substituted the gun for the sword and the missile for the bow and arrow. And with our atomic and chemical weapons, we now have the ability to wipe ourselves off the face of the Earth. This alone should tell us that we are far from being mature as a race and an eternity away from being civilised.

   I am reminded of the time when Mahatma Gandhi, the instigator of Indian independence, visited London in 1947. A British government official showed him around and asked him what he thought of Western civilisation. With a wonderful sense of humour Gandhi replied: ‘I think it’s a good idea, let me know when you achieve it.' Over six decades later, many might say that we are still trying to achieve it! The mark of any civilisation (the act of being civilised) should be the way a society has compassion for, and cares for, the sick, the disabled, the old, the poor, the homeless and the hungry.

 

   As the historian Arthur Findlay pointed out in his banned masterpiece The Curse of Ignorance, the human race, has, for centuries, been manipulated and controlled, by ........ "