Thursday, August 20, 2009
The Boy on the Mountain
A secular parable for our times.
The boy is standing on a high place, watching the storm clouds gather across the sea and to the south. His vantage point, this mountain top, perched like the eyrie of some arcane bird of prayer.
Those in the valley, the people of his village, unsighted by the mountainside, eyes down as they tend to their duties, good and bad they none of them can see the impending turmoil.
He shouts , he shouts again and again, he shouts until he is hoarse.
They do not hear.
Blinded by their rote, deafened by the cacophony of life , intent on their daily struggle for survival, numbed by the inanity of gossip, focused on the minutiae of commerce and soil and weed and labour.
They intend not to hear. They despair of acknowledging the approach of hardship. Do not they have enough of that already?
Frightened to look, frightened to listen, frightened to understand they prefer to imagine that someone else will bear the brunt of the tempest, that they will be safe , that death and sorrow and discomfort will be someone else's lot, not theirs.
They believe despite the facts that misery will somehow pass them by.
They would rather cling to this lie than face the danger eye to eye, summon the necessary courage to stand straight and challenge their nemesis.
They move towards the centre of their tribe , seeking comfort from others, renewing the acknowledgement of those they believe will protect them, surrounding themselves with those they hope will die in their stead, speaking out against the messenger of truth, saying that he lies, he lies, gaining comfort thereby.
They mutter a silent prayer of the religion they have learnt. Prayers never answered because they pray to a lie, a figment, a bastion of forlorn hope, a last chance recourse for the pitiable, a chimera of belief and faith born of nothing but that which it is; the lies of men.
Still they pray.
He races helter-skelter down the mountainside, leaping the crevasses, bounding the rocks, bloodied he pushes through the bracken, heeding not the stings and thorns, bringing the news, every sinew and nerve devoted to his desire to warn them, to save them, to bring them to safety.
In vain, in vain.
They shun him. Point to the rents in his clothes and the blood weeping from his wounds. Mock him for his excitability. They can see no storm. They can hear no wind.
They do not want to know.
Bad things happen to other people. People far away. They have learnt not to care about such things. They have learnt to live in isolation within the mass. Not to speak out. Not to rock the boat. Not to be excited nor excitable. They have learnt not to love , for the grief that will always follow.. They fear hurt more than any thing.
They sacrifice their dignity, their courage, their decency, their emotion at this altar of self preservation.
They are safe in the herd.
Until it's their turn.
Then none will heed their bleating. None will turn to save them.
Because bad things happen to other people.
When the storm arrives, they turn on the boy and beat him as they are washed away into eternity by the tempest, cursing him for bringing this hell upon them, railing at him for attracting this wrath.
"If only I'd shouted louder", he thought.
"If only I'd run quicker. If only my eyes had been as sharp as an eagle's. If only. If only.
If only I'd shouted louder".