Monday, 18 April 2011

Carrying on with life.

I have just been reading in the Times about the terrible suffering is Misrata in Lybia. They are running out of food, there is no electricity and no fresh water. Since February at least three hundred have died and over a thousand have been injured - the hospitals are running out of supplies and there are no beds available. At least twenty children have been killed and many more injured with shrapnel. The situation is appalling and yet we can do nothing.

We go about our everyday lives, maybe giving them a thought when the situation appears on the TV screen, or when it is written in the newspaper (although have you noticed how it is not long before a news story is sidelined in favour of a new one).

This carefree attitude in spite of suffering seems to be programmed into us. On a more personal level, I remember when my first husband died I was struck by how everything went on as though nothing had happened, how people passed, laughing, in the street.

WH Auden summed it up when he said, "suffering takes place while someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along.

There is also, as one gets older, a feeling that, however many friends and relatives one has, in the end - the final analysis - we are all on our own. Tom Scott, the Scots Poet, who died in 1995 summed this situation up very well when he said that the 'solitudes' begin to close round one. I like the idea of that word.

The birds and the animals go about their daily business totally regardless of anything that goes on around them (unless food is involved). I feel that we should not be like that - after all, we share the world with people in Libya, Ivory Coast, Japan, countries where there is oppression, aids in Africa - I could go on but it would be pointless.

But as Ronald Blythe says about this idea of suffering being personal while we get on with our lives - the same applies to happiness.

20 comments:

Gwilym Williams said...

I expect the forthcoming Royal Wedding will keep some people's minds off these terrible things for a few days;
a cheery moment, terrorists and weather permitting, in a gloomy year of drought, radiation fallout, glacier melt, ozone holes, pollution, and corruption in all sectors of life all on the increase, just when you thought it was impossible to get worse.

Heather said...

Life is so unfair to some people while others sail through their time on earth unscathed. I hardly dare read the newspapers and feel completely helpless. I am eternally grateful that I am one of the virtually unscathed, but it is still unfair.

Reader Wil said...

We share the world with people in so many countries that we daily read a bout and therefore blogging is so important. Life goes on after a disaster, that's true, but we do realize more and more that we are together facing these circumstances.

Granny Sue said...

I understand what you are saying. I was incredulous after the death of my son last year that people were watching TV, going to the movies, were "dying" to go somewhere, and laughing. It is the same when a son is at war--here everyone goes along in the same day-to-day activities, while over there, who knows what they are encountering. It seems heartless, and yet, what else can we do but go on? That is what I tell people who say "I don't see how you can stand losing a child." What else can I do but go on? There really are only two choices.

Rare Lesser Spotted said...

The questions you indirectly ask Weaver would test the most able of philosophers to give any answers that the common person would begin to understand. You mentioned the death of your first husband. I remember having exactly the same conversation with my sister in law when a neice died many years ago at just 20 days old. As individuals, we can't take on the woes of the world, our brains would explode. Can we as individuals make a difference? Perhaps. Can we as a collective make a difference? Maybe. Is the change we want to make to rid the world of poverty, disease, etc etc., sustainable - no, sadly, not with the system we have now where profit is actually more important. Not a political statement - just a fact of life. A thought provoking blog as usual Weaver. Thanks.
XX

Elizabeth said...

Such a thoughtful post with equally thoughtful comments.
If we grieved with every grief in the world, every single one of us would be a soggy pulp for ever.
So we have to be glad when it is possible to be glad.
I must say I have been singularly blessed.
Yes, the Auden poem is one of my favorites and always a great hit when I taught it. Rather a good idea to introduce rather self -obsessed teens to!
I really feel that those of us who are NOT having an awful time of it should be jolly cheerful. I feel like shaking people who constantly moan about nothing-in-particular!

H said...

Auden sums it up perfectly. That's exactly how I felt when my husband died. We went to do a food shop and everyone else was so normal and untouched.

Tramp said...

Yes life certainly seems unfair, but how often do we whine that it is unfair to us when we have no justification to do so.
How do we keep the balance of concern to the suffering in the lives of others with counting the blessings in our own?

Jo said...

Having just lost my mother less than a month ago, I know exactly what you mean. It seems like an altered state of reality around us, but then again, what is real?

The truth is that life DOES go on, and everyone lives within his or her own sphere of reality.

Luckily for most of us, we maintain enough connections with others' realities that we learn compassion and caring and the interconnectedness of all things.

A few carefree moments are to be savored in the moments between our feelings of helplessness to the world's problems. Relish them, I say.

Crafty Green Poet said...

If we let ourselves pay too much attention to the terrible things in the world, the wars, diseases, povery and environmental destruction, we'd never get up in the morning..... That said, sometimes we do need to pay more attention than some of us do

John Gray said...

that shock of realisation that everyone else's world is going on quite nicely thank you when yours has fallen apart!
is one of the wierdest and anger inducing situations I have ever experienced when in grief!

steven said...

the knowledge of the details of the globe are unprecedented. the nature and degree of suffering has been the same throughout history. what needs to change is the quality with which people live their lives. you cannot change global politics but you can make life in your own little part of the world as beautiful and as special as you can (which you do). this affects others who in turn affect others. this is how true change is brought about. it doesn't negate the suffering that is taking place in the farm in the dale right next to yours or the sorry state of japan, libya, malawi, etc. but it does give a more noble purpose to your life. steven

BT said...

I do know just how you feel Weaver. There is just so much suffering around the world. At home too, as the recent Jury trial I sat on brought home to me only too well. I also understand your remarks about solitude. Ultimately, we are all on our own.

Jenn Jilks said...

It's peculiar, but we have neighbours, people in town, with little money. There are about a dozen young people on the streets in our fair town.
You do what you can.
My hospice clients I advocate for.
You don't understand their journeys, but there are people whose culture it is to be in conflict. So very sad.

Hildred and Charles said...

Weaver, I do agree with your comments on solitude. And Tom Scott's... I have said in a previous blog that when life is at its fullest the circle is large and vibrant, but as we age it comes down eventually to one silver circle containing just one single soul.

Dave King said...

We have recently had a death in the family, and I was struck by the same thought: how everything went on as before. The Auden quote is apt. I guess we're just more aware of it with age - and especially when we hear of other deaths - but I think the solitude was always there.

Rachel said...

So what do you think we should be like? The other day you were having a sleepless night about Rooney swearing. Perhaps you have now put that into perspective for yourself.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Thoughful post Weaver.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for the comment. It was brought home yet again when a friend - a lovely bubbly woman only just sixty - died at the weekend. I only found out yesterday. I don't know who said 'the good die young' but it was certainly true in this case.
After a short battle with cancer she finally succumbed. Rest in peace, Judy.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Please do read all the comments - they are so interesting.