Thursday, November 30, 2006


In an early scene in my novella 'Beyond the Wings', a family gathers around to watch the news. Although it is not said exactly what is being reported, but it is said that the family speak so much about their fear, concern and empathy that they cannot posibly take in any new information. A lot of people who live in rich countries can probably relate to this particular type of powerlessness.

As a University Graduate living in the UK, I have had more money spent on my education than most of the world earns in an entire life-time. I believe this gives me a responsibility to explore the connections between my own life and those whose lives are unimaginable to me. Part of this responsibility can be summed up by the word 'compassion'. Another part is embodied in what Harold Pinter described as a mandatory obligation to define the real truths of our lives and our societies.

Compassion derives from the Latin words 'com' meaning with, and 'passio' meaning suffering. It is an inconvenient emotion in a culture that is based on entitlement, and a popular advertising slogan runs "because you're worth it". But it is a far less base and more fruitful emotion than mere pity, that says "ain' it all a bleedin' shame". Compassion is a value that can be traced in most world religions (a theme I'll return to on this blog). For example, Confucius used the word "shu", ie using oneself as a measure in gauging the wishes of others: "Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire" (The Analects XV:25).

The English language is undoubtedly in a bad way at the present time. This is a bigger deal than many people will acknowledge. As Harold Pinter said:

"Most political systems talk in such vague language, and it’s our responsibility and our duty as citizens of our various countries to exercise acts of critical scruntiny upon that use of language. Of course, that means that one does tend to become rather unpopular. But to hell with that.”

Part of my ambition as a writer is to carve out a language within the vernacular that can be a stainless window into my budding political vision. If we live in the "free-country" that our politicians love to boast about then it's time we started living like it.