“Sometimes a man is innocent, but the circumstances make it appear otherwise.”
Oliver Lacon in John LeCarré’s Smiley’s People (or was it Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)
It’s one of my favourite quotations. I may not have it exactly right. But I think the sentiment is important.
Over the years, I have come across people who were only trying to do their best, but their motives were questioned to the point where they appeared to be in the wrong. They, however, knew that the best way to deal with such allegations is to ignore them . . . and let the results speak on their behalf. Invariably, they were justified without saying a word.
I have also come across people who managed to hide their wrongs behind a façade of bravado, usually accompanied by vociferous false allegations against even those who had their best interests at heart. Invariably, they suffered. Their…
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Just over a week ago I wrote about seeing two pigeons fighting over a piece of bread. They were so intent on their argument that they failed to spot the seagull coming in and taking the bread. They ended up losing everything.
Watching the same flock of birds, yesterday, it struck me that there was something else that we could learn from the response of the losing pigeons. They were strutting around in the sun, or simply resting in the spring heat.
But they were still there. They had not suffered permanent damage from their loss. In fact, I remembered that, after the fight, having lost their meal, they turned around and carried on about their daily business. They simply got on with their lives.
Maybe that is something else that we can learn. How important are material things? In fact, how many of us can say that our very lives totally depend on our next meal? Yes, there are people in the world for whom one meal could mean the difference between life and death. Yet for most of us, that is simply not so. In fact, for many people the problem is not that they cannot find enough to eat. Their problem is that they find too much. With the statistics on obesity showing a growing problem, how many of us really need to worry about missing a meal? The reality is that if we were to drop our plate of food, we would simply go and get another.
So what is the lesson? Why make a big issue of a material loss. We were born with nothing; and if you have spent any time in the emergency unit of the local hospital, you know that none of those material things matter when your life is at risk. Plus, of course, the end of life signals the end of using those material things.
Can we not learn, then, to let go when we suffer loss, and just get on with life, instead of complaining bitterly about it? Can we not take the loss with equanimity?
This will only happen if we have the right view of material things compared with the value of life.
It is all a matter of perspective. Maybe we just need a bird’s eye view.
Foolishness is its own reward