This freesite series brings various thoughts and insights that seem particularly relevant now, at a time when the old order is failing around us, and a new civilization is about to rise from the ashes.
Most items are in the form of quotations and many go back a long way. However, all the wisdoms expressed in the series remain relevant to our times.
Youth And Hope
by Kahlil Gibran (1883 - 1931)
Youth walked before me and I followed him until we came to a distant field. There he stopped, and gazed at the clouds that drifted over the horizon like a flock of white lambs. Then he looked at the trees whose naked branches pointed toward the sky as if praying to Heaven for the return of their foliage.
And I said, "Where are we now, Youth?"
And he replied, "We are in the field of Bewilderment. Take heed."
And I said. "let us go back at once. for this desolate place affrights me, and the sight of the clouds and the naked trees saddens my heart."
And he replied, "Be patient. Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge."
Then I looked around me and saw a form moving gracefully toward us and I asked, "Who is this woman?"
And Youth replied, "This is Melpomene, daughter of Zeus, and Muse of Tragedy."
"Oh, happy Youth!" I exclaimed, "what does Tragedy want of me, while you are at my side?"
And he answered, "She has come to show you the earth and its sorrows; for he who has not looked on Sorrow will never see Joy."
Then the spirit laid a hand upon my eyes. When she withdrew it, Youth was gone, and I was alone, divested of my earthly garments, and I cried, "Daughter of Zeus, where is Youth?"
Melpomene did not answer; but took me up under her wings, and carried me to the summit of a high mountain. Below me I saw the earth and all in it, spread out like the pages of a book, upon which were inscribed the secrets of the universe. I stood in awe beside the maiden, pondered the mystery of Man, and struggled to decipher Life's symbols.
And I saw woeful things: The Angels of Happiness warring with the Devils of Misery, and standing between them was Man, now drawn one way by Hope and now another by Despair.
I saw Love and Hate dallying with the human heart; Love concealing Man's guilt and besotting him with the wine of submission, praise and flattery; while Hatred provoked him, and sealed his ears and blinded his eyes to Truth.
And I beheld the city crouching like a child of its slums and snatching at the garment of the son of Adam. From afar I saw the lovely fields weeping over man's sorrow. I beheld priests foaming like sly foxes; and false messiahs contriving and conspiring against Man's happiness.
And I saw Man calling upon Wisdom for deliverance; but Wisdom did not hearken to his cries, for he had contemned her when she spoke to him in the streets of the city.
And I saw preachers gazing in adoration toward the heavens, while their hearts were interred in the pits of Greed.
I saw a youth winning a maiden's heart with sweet speech; but their true feelings were asleep, and their divinity was far away.
I saw the lawmakers chattering idly, selling their wares in the market places of Deceit and Hypocrisy.
I saw physicians toying with the souls of the simple hearted and trustful. I saw the ignorant sitting with the wise, exalting their past to the throne of glory, adorning their present with the robes of plenty, and preparing a couch of luxury for the future.
I saw the wretched poor sowing the seed, and the strong reaping; and oppression, miscalled Law, standing guard.
I saw the thieves of Ignorance despoiling the treasures of Knowledge, while the sentinels of Light lay drowned in the deep sleep of inaction.
And I saw two lovers; but the woman was like a lute in the hands of a man who cannot play, but understands only harsh sounds.
And I beheld the forces of Knowledge laying siege to the city of Inherited Privilege; but they were few in number and were soon dispersed.
And I saw Freedom walking alone, knocking at doors, and asking for shelter, but no one heeded her pleas. Then I saw Prodigality striding in splendour, and the multitude acclaiming her as Liberty.
I saw Religion buried in books, and Doubt stood in her place.
And I saw Man, wearing the garments of Patience as a cloak for Cowardice and calling Sloth Tolerance, and Fear Courtesy.
I saw the intruder sitting at the board of Knowledge, uttering folly, but the guests were silent.
I saw gold in the hands of the wasteful, a means of evil-doing; and in the hands of the miserly as a bait for hatred. But in the hands of the wise I saw no gold.
When I beheld all these things, I cried out in pain, "Oh Daughter of Zeus, is this indeed the Earth? Is this Man?"
In a soft and anguished voice she replied, "What you see is the Soul's path, and it is paved with sharp stones and carpeted with thorns. This is only the shadow of Man. This is Night. But wait! Morning will soon be here!"
Then she laid a gentle hand upon my eyes, and when she withdrew it, behold! There was Youth walking slowly by my side, and ahead of us, leading the way, marched Hope.
I doubt that I could find a better expression of the message of the 2nd Renaissance freesites than this short work by the Lebanese poet and novelist, Kahlil Gibran. It was written well before World War II, yet it perfectly captures the spiritual and societal flaws of Western civilization that led to global war. And which continue apace, under the new banners of globalised trade and the 'never-ending' War On Terror.
These are very dark times. They are dark politically, they are dark environmentally, they are dark socially and economically, and they are dark spiritually. But there was also a Dark Age in Europe, and it was overcome by a Renaissance in technology and thought. People suffered terrible injustices and cruel torments during the 'night' that was medieval Europe and the subsequent Renaissance and Reformation periods. However, their great grandchildren, and later generations, eventually experienced 'morning'. While the civilization that emerged was far from perfect, and remains largely as described by Gibran's writing above; it was greatly improved in comparison to what went before.
Now we are experiencing another great Renaissance. This 2nd Renaissance is still within the darkness cast by materialist thought, centralism, and the scarcity and inequalities of industrial capitalism. Yet, new knowledge, new thinking, new technology, and new spirituality are combining to march forward together; into the daylight of the 21st century; along with Youth and Hope.
Ultimately, the human spirit is invincible, and Light will prevail over Darkness.
We can, and will, regain the harmony and peace that prevailed on this planet; during the times that preceded the Great Flood. Civilization One was advanced and enlightened; and the people who lived in it truly experienced a Golden Age. Cataclysmic misfortune, and an accompanying loss of consciousness, subsequently brought us down to our present sorry level.
But we are spiritual beings and we will rise again. The notion that the future will be bright and shining is more than mere hope.
Lothar, February 2006.
See links to other editions of this series in the sidebar.