Sunday, January 25, 2009

The human hoose

Robert Burns' 250th anniversary is today.

Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a' that),
That Sense and Worth oer a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree an a' that.
For a' that, an a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That man to man, the world, oer
Shall brithers be for a' that.

Sadly, there's no sign of it coming yet. It's not so much the wars and killing that separate us. They're discrete. Ultimately resolvable. Even Northern Ireland is well on the road.

It's the little things that still separate us. I won't do something for you because you're not like me. You will do something to me because I'm not one of you. And so it goes. No-one attempts to bridge those little differences. And they're the ones that lead to the big differences, and the war and the killing. The human hoose has oer mony rooms and nane o them connect.

President Obama, speaking before his inauguration, said:
While our problems may be new, what is required to overcome them is not. What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that our founders displayed. What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives — from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry — an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels.

Leaving aside the angels and all that they entail (at least his inauguration speech referred to atheists, a major step forward), this strikes me as just the right model to take us forward to Burns' ideal. Fancy words, some will say. Can't happen, others will decide. It's cynicism that will see for us all.

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