Out of the Darkness

Responding to Reena’s prompt # 100 based on above:
https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2019/10/24/reenas-exploration-challenge-110/

It is in the darkest hour that reason dawns, that hour of self doubt and confusion before enlightenment. Intuitively we stumble towards the truth, but become conflicted with the world’s unreasoning hysterical chatter. So we wrestle with our insecurities and try to separate the wheat from the chaff.

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates

I have been wrestling with the merits of the youth movement that seems to be taking the developed world by storm in the last few months. Left leaning political parties are advocating for the voting age to be lowered to sixteen. Students are protesting in the U.S. on gun control due to the horrific shooting at U.S. schools. Students are striking from educational studies to protest lack of climate change action. Five students are suing the Canadian government for the lack of a sufficient climate change agenda….. and then we have Greta Thunberg, the sixteen year old Swedish messiah for climate change.

Do 16 year olds have the mental and emotional maturity to vote. In some countries, voting under the age of 18 isn’t controversial. Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Scotland all allow voting at 16. In the U.S. three cities in Maryland, Hyattville, Greenbelt and Takoma Park as well as Berkeley,California allow 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in local elections.

I have read numerous articles and listened to various politicians expound on this topic. A year ago I would have stated that 16 year olds are too immature to vote. Today my mind is in that black hole of self doubt. Does the internet, access to information and general advances in technology enable students to think more deeply and understand issues more intelligently than ten years ago? Are students smarter today? If we treat 16 year olds as mature adults do they respond in kind? The jury is out.

Are students manipulated by an adult agenda and dancing to scheming adult puppet masters? The five students suing the Canadian government are being funded by the Suzuki Foundation, a well known climate action organization. Greta Thunberg states that she is travelling the world on her own initiative with the support of her parents but questions are still being asked regarding funding for these costs. In both cases it seems the easy target is government rather than individual responsibility. It is a big public relations win for climate change organizations to have photogenic, articulate students to push their agenda. Organizations can come under heavy criticism, students not so much. Main Street Media love a face to front an issue, it plays so much better with the public.

This is my preferred approach to politics. To not hold on to past prejudices but to try and reason on a case by case basis. To research the internet for all answers both pros and cons……and there is a lot of confusing and biased information out there. In the end to weigh all the information and make the most informed decision I can. I am forever trying to escape my comfort zone and find new insights on issues.

In the year 1212, two youths, Nicholas of Germany and Stephen of Cloyes answered the popes call for a crusade to the Holy Lands. Through their oratory and out reach they persuaded 30,000 children to march to the Holy Lands. Their are varying versions of what actually transpired en route but the outcome was that two thirds of the children perished, a large number were sold into slavery and the remainder became disillusioned.

Emotion should not be the great decider when we undertake a political journey. Alas in many cases it is.

Death Pays a Visit

Quotable Poe week # 3. I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him – The Tell Tale Heart-Edgar Allen Poe
Prompt from the site of Heretics,Lovers and Madmen-

I was settled in for the night, fire blazing in the hearth, relaxing comfortably into the armchair with a glass of port, mince pies and Dickens. I must have dozed off for I awoke with a start as the grandfather clock in the hallway chimed the midnight hour. The fire had burned down and a stillness lay on the house. I felt acute indigestion in my chest regretting those mince pies so late at night. Was that a knock at the door? Surely not at this hour. I waited. There it was again, a hesitant knock. I opened the door to see death staring me in the face.

Death beckoned. ” The ferry man awaits.”

I stared in confusion. ” You must be mistaken. Are you sure you have the right address”

Death nodded the affirmative.

” Your knock seemed a little hesitant, as if you were unsure. Are you absolutely certain it is tonight. Perhaps you are a few years early.”

Death kept staring me in the face. ” Perhaps I am a few minutes early, but I’m patient I can wait.”

“But I don’t want to die”, I gasped ” Can we not reach an accommodation.”

” You wish to negotiate” Death asked ” You may not like the price”

“Anything you ask ” I pleaded.

“One for one” Death intoned ” One year for one life”

“I don’t understand your meaning.” I was getting confused.

” You will take one life in order to live one year” Death explained ” Each year you take a life you will be spared death. That will be the contract between us.”

I shuddered in horror at this dreadful pact. I was not a violent man……but…… I did like my creature comforts.

” Agreed. ” I said and with those words Death disappeared.

I flopped into the armchair considering this pact I had made with Death. How would I go about this? Who would I choose? To assuage my conscience I persuaded myself that I needed some rules, not to kill violently but with compassion and to enact some form of kindness to the victim before death.

The first victim I chose was Mr. Moriarty my feeble next door neighbor and I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. 

Hands

Reena’s prompt #109 based on this image.
https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2019/10/17/reenas-exploration-challenge-109/
With an additional shout out to mbrazfieldm at words less spoken for her inspired post at
https://wordslessspoken781842219.blog/2019/10/19/hand/
We are all connected.

Hands are servants of the mind. The mind commands and the hands obey, because the mind by itself can do nothing in the world. It sits in its ivory tower and schemes but cannot create or destroy without its trusted servants.

He held the world in his hands, spinning the globe, eyeing the curve of a country before placing the globe back on his desk. A whole world out there and he was stuck here teaching Latin to ignorant brats who had no interest in the subject. He sighed, glanced at his watch and exited his study to stroll down to the first form classroom.

“Higgins why is this page full of ink blots. It’s just not acceptable. You will take better care of your exercise book or suffer the consequences”.

He walked to the open cupboard behind his desk and carefully selected the thinnest of the four bamboo canes for maximum results. His hands lovingly caressing the smoothness of the bamboo he walked towards his target.

” Six of the best I think. Kindly stand and left hand up Higgins.”

Higgins stood and slowly held out his quivering left hand. The Latin master placed the cane under Higgins left hand, allowing the cane to caress before swishing down to release his pent up frustration on the world. This routine was continued until the required number was reached, Left hand, right hand. “Sit down Higgins.”

Higgins scrunched his eyes and tried to dam the tears. He somewhat succeeded as they trickled down his face instead of becoming a torrent. His hands stung and he started rubbing them together under the desk and clenching and unclenching his fist to ease the pain. Thankfully the bell rang five minutes later and he was able to adjourn to a quiet corner of the yard to nurse his wounds.

He sat under a tree and closed his eyes, the dam finally bursting to release a torrent of tears. He remembered a happier time when his father was alive. The right reverend Alistair Higgins pastor of St.Peter the Apostle church. His earliest memories were of his fathers nightly blessings, the placing of hands on his head and the soothing calmness that would follow.His father was a healer, a great believer in the laying on of hands to heal the sick. He would visit all his sick parishioners, sit with them, console them and place his hands on them to transfer Gods healing love. In bible study classes his father would tell him to close his eyes and picture the healing hands of Jesus. To visualize Jesus healing him with those sacred hands. But now his father was dead and he was here, sent to boarding school by his step father to make a man of him. He slipped into reverie and tried to picture Jesus’s healing hands, but felt only resentment and hatred for the perceived injustice and the hurt done to him.

“Higgins. Stand up and conjugate the verb abstineo.”

Higgins stood, his mind blank, unable to think under the intimidating stare of his master.

” I expect all homework to be completed Higgins, without exception. Hold out your left hand. Swish. Right hand. Swish. You may sit down.”

There was a day the Latin master failed to appear for class. Rumor circulated that he was very sick. Four months passed before he again made an appearance. Higgins stared at his nemesis, failing at first to recognize him. Who was this thin, frail, shuddering creature before him. Class was finished and Higgins was exiting the room when the Latin master staggered in front of him. Without thinking Higgins reached out a helping hand and steadied the weary master. Without thanks or acknowledgement the master staggered out of the room. Four months later he was dead.

Higgins waiting in line to file past the coffin of the Latin master recalled all the vicious canings he had received at his hands. He rubbed his hands unconsciously trying to erase the previous hurts. Hovering over the coffin, staring at the image of the teacher he once hated, he placed a forgiving hand on the waxen body and turned the other cheek.

Twitter Plague

“There was much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre,something of the terrible,and not a little of that which might have excited disgust”.
The Masque of the Red Death-Edgar Alan Poe
Quotable Poe-week # 2 from Heretics,Lovers and Madmen website: https://hereticsloversmadmen.com

The Twitter plague came like a thief in the night spreading it’s infection, devastating vast areas of urban humanity. The population, seeking respite from human contact, locked themselves in their castellated abodes becoming an echo chamber of mean spirited wraiths. For this was a plague that infested the soul rather than the body.

I was relaxing on the park bench, admiring the majestic sweep of the weeping willow, its lower boughs drooping into the stream. I closed my eyes trying, unsuccessfully, to ignore the sounds emanating from the cell phone held by the woman sitting to the left of me. Her voice suddenly chimed ” serves you right you hypocrite, it looks good on you.” My curiosity getting the better of me, I asked what she meant by that statement. ” That so called university professor who thinks he know everything. There a video of him on Twitter crying just like a baby. ”

‘Can I see it” I asked. “I think I know the person.”

She showed me the video and I tensed for it was my favorite YouTube personality. It was then that the Twitter plague first manifested itself in my body. My heart started beating fast, my irritation towards the woman grew and I made a huge effort not to scream my derision at the stupid,inane comment she had just uttered. With an extreme effort of will I turned abruptly from the woman and made my way to my castellated abode.

Seated comfortably in my library I pressed the laptop’s on button,clicked the Twitter icon, scrolled down the tweets and yes there it was the tweet I was seeking with the video attachment. The 90 likes and 35 retweets increased my heart rate and caused my brain to throb with anger. My fingers tapped a suitable reply and I glowed with satisfaction as I reread my non refutable argument and clicked send. Over the next hour the plague quickened in my soul and fed off the negative energy I had sent and received. I became increasingly tired and drained as the diatribe continued, no side backing down, continuing to disparage the other for their lack of knowledge and insight into this important matter.

My wife shouted up the stairs ” Suppers ready.” I frowned in irritation at this disturbance wanting to unleash my hurried thoughts onto the screen before they escaped my mind. ” Suppers ready, are you up there”, my wife shouting again. Reluctantly I closed the laptop and went down stairs.

“Everything okay.”

“Why do you ask.”

“You look flushed and not yourself. Are you getting sick”

“No. Just some stupid, idiot on Twitter who is the biggest sanctimonious, hypocrite I have ever come across.”

” Oh, is that all. Is the beef cooked okay. I was trying for medium but it may be a little overdone.”

I felt myself relax as the Twitter plague began to recede, leaving my soul whole again.

“Once in a golden hour

I cast to earth a seed.

Up there came a flower,

The people said, a weed.”

Alfred Lord Tennyson,

Friends

Responding to Reena’s challenge ” # 107 using the word “Unbridgeable”
https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2019/10/03/reenas-exploration-challenge-107/

Is there an unbridgeable gap that divides friendships? Where is the crossover point where friendships divide and cannot be bridged? Are friendships forever no matter the circumstances that befall us?

The reality was that I knew my place in the pecking order. Derek was the clown, always in your face with his off color jokes trying so hard to make you laugh. Steve was the wise one always stating his opinion, continually expounding on the state of the world. Rick was the negative one, pointing out the inadequacies of everyone we met and dissing every person that ever lived. Which leaves me, the quiet one, the listener, the one who doesn’t like confrontation, the one who just nods his head in affirmation to the continual barrage of sound directed his way. The one who can be molded into the image of the friends he surrounds himself with

Being the quiet one doesn’t mean that my head is empty. There are all kinds of thoughts being processed as I listen to the ramblings of my friends. I wish Derek would just shut up with his off colored jokes, they’re not very funny. What does Steve really know about the world, everything he learns is from social media. Rick is giving me a gigantic headache with his constant negativity. Why can’t he say something positive for once. See I have a lot going on in my head. But we’ve been friends since grade one and friends put up with each other and stick together.

As the four of us swaggered down the street, listening to Derek’s latest off colored joke about a prostitute and a politician, the rain started. We sprinted for cover into the nearest doorway shaking our heads like wet dogs, wiping our hair to prevent the drips streaming down our face. So it was a few moments before Steve commented on the ragged bundle laying in the corner, clutching a brown paper bag and snoring loudly.

Rick never missing an opportunity took a few steps, crouching down to examine the snoring specimen and exploring the contents of the paper bag, an empty wine bottle. He lit a cigarette, took a deep drag and exhaled the smoke into the bundle of rags. Receiving no response Rick looked up, gave us an inquiring look, flicked his lighter and held the flame to the paper bag. The bag instantly burst into flame causing Rick to leap away, Derek to laugh hysterically, Steve to stare with fascination and I to leap forward and attempt to quash the flames with my foot. Rick grabbed the back of my collar and jerked me back, forcing me out of the doorway and into the rain.

The flames from the paper bag started to dim but random sparks made their way onto the bundle of rags, the homeless man twitched but continued to lay there snoring away. The sparks started to smolder, igniting his sleeve, small flames beginning to flicker up his arm. We all stared fascinated by the glow. Breaking out of my trance I pushed Rick aside. Reaching for the flaming bundle I heaved it along the ground out into the rain. The steady down pour quickly doused the flames and woke the homeless man. He stared around in bewilderment. Steve, Derek and Rick giving me a dirty look kicked the bundle of rags in the side as they strolled out of the doorway. I gave them a guilty look, shrugged my shoulders, gave the bundle of rags a double kick and followed my friends in search of another shelter from the rain. Derek broke the silence ” Have I told you the one about the French maid and the butler.”

Agape

This is my fictional response to a prompt from hereticsloversmadmen blog. Week #1 of “quotable poe week.” I have used extracts from Poe’s wonderful poem “The Raven.”
https://hereticsloversmadmen.com/2019/10/04/quotable-Poe-week-one-m-a-morris/

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions then I have built a super highway to speed me on my way. My intentions were pure as I initially stepped on the path that I hoped would lead me to God. I prayed, meditated, contemplated,read all the mystics, followed their advice of mortification, purgation and detachment. Never looking to the heavens for my God but searching inward, ever inward. I started to revile my body as an inadequate vessel for the soul. No matter how much I lash and starve my body into submission the lustful,sinful temptations of the flesh remain. No matter how much I pray and center my mind I am denied entry into God’s presence .

I love so much and yet am denied the object of my love. Is it because Eros’s arrow still pierces my heart, blinding me to that other love which is agape. I know that God loves me, ” God so loved the world that he gave his only son”. In those few words I have written proof of God’s love for me and I have striven to return it. God isn’t listening.

It’s mid-night, I stretch my arms and stifle a yawn as I try to concentrate on the words of “the Living Flame of Love: St. John of the Cross.” Glancing into the mirror beside my chair I see a grim, ghastly, gaunt apparition staring back at me. But it is only a body. My body may be emaciated but my will is still striving to stir my soul. I fall to my knees and cry out to receive God’s grace, for God to have mercy on me, to release me from this dark night, to ease my soul so sorrow laden.

“Tell me truly I implore. Is there balm in Gilead. Tell me , tell me, I implore. ”

So here I sit in despair. Recognition dawning of my wasted years of searching, knowing that I will nevermore find the grace of God if I continue on this path.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dreamed before.

A splash of color entered the darkness, a caterpillar was crawling on a branch, munching hungrily through the leaves, trying to assuage its voracious appetite. The caterpillar stopped eating for a moment, turned its head in my direction and winked.

A Cockney Angel

Shout out to mbrazfieldm at Words Less Spoken for giving me the following idea from her blog
https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/156180627/posts/1711
She wrote in part of an angel named Hortance, a Mae West look alike, who spoke with a Cockney accent.

I weren’t much of a looker. Me face being a bit pinched, dark circles under me eyes and I ‘ad this ‘orrible wart on me chin. But I ‘ad a generous ‘eart. I used to give to the poorest of the poor. Blokes who needed me but couldn’t afford the ready.

They’d say “Liza, I got an urgent need, but me ship ain’t come in yet. ‘Ow about yer take care of me and I’ll say a prayer fer yer. I’ll put in a word for yer to that geezer up there. Tell ‘im of your kind ‘eart.”

I’d say ” ‘Ow can a girl with a kind ‘eart refuse yer, when yer willing to do me such a big favor, and yer ‘ave such a need. So we’d do the business and after, I liked to fink, they’d go ‘ome and not beat on their old ladies.”

I’d run into Meg crumpled over in the alley. She was kneeling in piss and vomit, moaning an clutching ‘er belly. I knelt beside ‘er and put me arm gently round ‘er shoulder.

” Wat’s wrong luv. ” I asked.

“Me trick, didn’t like me touch. Said I didn’t know me business and wouldn’t pay. So I put me ‘ands in ‘is pocket and took what’s owed. ‘E gave me such a thump in me belly and boxed me ears and scarpered. I pissed me self and vomited me steak and kidney pud I ‘ad for supper and now ‘ere you are me sweet Liza. Yer a saint, yer are, and no denying. I’m saying a prayer for yer while I’m still on me knees, yer such a comfort to poor old Meg”.

I saw the two starved young’uns eyeing the barrow. Eyeing the barrow man’s every move. When ‘e was distracted by a customer they made their move. Scarpering past the barrow and scooping two apples. The barrow man ‘adn’t seen ’em, but some nosy git grabbed ’em by the neck and yelled thieves. They both frew the apples in ‘is face which made him let go as ‘e tried to shield ‘imself with his ‘ands. They took off. I saw ’em ten minutes later trying the same trick on the other side of Spitalfields. I ‘ad a whole shilling to me self, due to me good luck with a bloke feeling generous, so I went up to the barrow boy and bought two apples. A penny each. I took em over and ‘anded em to the kids. Save yerselfs the bovver I says. They snatched the apples from me ‘ands and said God Bless yer missus and scarpered.

I ‘adn’t seen Sally for a while so I fought I’d pay ‘er a visit. I knocked on ‘er door but there was no answer, so I went in. She was laying on ‘er bed looking proper poorly. A stink came from ‘er as she was layin in ‘er own fluids. She was feverish and tossin from side to side. I looked for some water, but there weren’t any. So I took the bucket down to the pump and filled it, eaving it back to Sally’s ‘ouse. I undressed ‘er and washed ‘er body. Luckily she ‘ad another shift to put on. I turned the mattress over and put on a dry sheet. I stayed with ‘er four days till the fever broke, caring for ‘er, washing ‘er face and forcing down sips of water. On the fourth day she smiled at me and said I fought yer were an Angel looking over me. I smiled back, stroked ‘er face and went ‘ome feeling done in.

I took to me bed, feeling a bit queer. Next fing I knew there was white light all around me. Some voice echoed ” welcome to ‘Eaven but yer work ain’t dun. I’m sending yer back as me Cockney Angel.”

So ‘ere I am back in the East End.

There goes Peg with her bottle of gin again. I whispered in ‘er ear. ” The babies crying Peg dear why don’t yer put the bottle dahn and see to ‘im. ” She paused, frowned and listened.