About a year ago, while walking around London, I saw snails massing on the tarmac path in the rain. A short time later, I saw a shrew on the pavement by my feet. The little shrew then left the pavement to walk across the road only to be clipped by a passing car.
I wondered if it was my fault. Had the shrew fled from me? Then again I didn’t build the road, I didn’t build the car. I had just walked and encountered the shrew.
Caveat emptor: my daily musings may be incomplete and incorrect.
I wondered about healing the shrew that was clearly injured. But the world of healing is a world so complicated that it takes different specialists to look after feet and brains and lungs and plasma and the rest. No one can yet fix the whole. I wondered could engineers help fix the poor shrew but they too only work with parts. Their whole is a design into which they insert their specialised widgets.
At that moment, while thinking in gross generalisations, the shrew was squashed flat by another passing car. A family estate, three kids safely strapped into a year’s worth of corporate salaried earnings. I wondered what the shrew knew and dismissed the speculation since none of us yet know what consciousness is.
I think a lot of people who work in the corporate world and indeed governments are much the same as the doctors and engineers I maligned earlier. That is to say they don’t see the whole of the things they work with. Just as a shrew is almost too small to register yet is an integral part of the cycle of life where it lives.
I watched the deeply disturbing Chernobyl TV series that same week the shrew died. I was struck by the implication that the terror that ruled Russia was to blame. The other inference in the way that the story was told was that perhaps the western world would do things better. Somehow this undermined the value of the program which was a fictionalised version of a catastrophe. It seemed like a propaganda exercise, like a Cold War story from the mad, mad world of mutually assured destructions.
Over the years I have worked with many flavours of agents within corporations who were good for the corporation, some good for themselves, some undoubtedly bad for the corporation and more often than you’d imagine, many who were even bad for themselves. Only a very few could rise above themselves to see the whole playground where they were given the privilege for extended play. You might think it pejorative to refer to play like this but some think it offensive to refer to doctors and engineers as practicing.
I recall while shopping for a camera lens filter in Pimlico, I realised that the ground beneath my feet had been transported there by man. The now culverted Tyburn River that I have walked from source to outflow had formerly fed marshes that required infilling to create Pimlico. Much of that fill came upriver from the excavations that created St Catherine Docks at the cost of 10,000 human displacements, in a time before Marx and others awoke the world to human rights.
Further downriver, I had recently arrived at Purfleet from Erith on a walked journey that terminated at a memorial to another Irishman Bram Stoker. I hadn’t crossed the river locally, the ferry was long gone. I crossed upriver at Kingston, while walking the entire London Loop, some 240 km around the city.
It would have taken dark hearts to displace 10,000 people without any compensation whatsoever. Those same dark hearted attitudes had created opportunities for bright hearted folk to sail forth to administer an Empire from Purfleet. Among those who sailed were many who enslaved millions of light hearted peoples from the many hearts of darkness they pillaged.
Today, perhaps the wiring of our world both reduces our perception of its vast size and ensnares us like the rubber thread wound around the cores of some kinds of golf balls that successful folk drive while venting their frustrations. It seems to me that there is a coincidental two century inversion whereby urban golf courses displace a few to create the playgrounds for an entitled minority, while generating bounty akin to St Catherine’s Dock that displaced so many for the commercial benefit of so few. Does ‘Money makes the world go round’ sound right, like a mock rerun of Cabaret, while political turmoil threatens our world order?
Shakespeare thought about all of this long ago and used the illusion of the poor becoming briefly rich and starving others into submission. As social commentary, I think he had no recourse but to present it as comedy. Too few humans choose to rise above themselves and think altruistically.
The shrew died untamed while ensnared in artifice it couldn’t imagine.