The Good Ship ‘Pegida’
Posted on February 21, 2016
The Good Ship ‘Pegida’
Seeking wisdom and enlightenment, I wandered the hills and mountains of a distant isle. Much poetry I found there, and tales of old, but I could not find the key to unlock a great question troubling me. I inquired in many places, and consulted with many kind and gentle people. But still I knew I could not grasp. My mind was too dull, my reasoning too coarse. At length I was directed to go and visit an old man, who resided in a small stone cottage, perched high on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I was told he was wise, and very patient. I found him, smoking thoughtfully, his eyes gazing out over endless marching waves, with the wind of the Old Country playing with his locks. His lined face told of many an encounter with Weather and Man, and the eyes, deep and seeing, studied my approach patiently and kindly. He showed no surprise at my arrival, almost as if he had been expecting me, and merely motioned me to an empty chair. Several minutes went by, and not a word was spoken. As if he had read my thoughts and mind, at length he smiled, and raised an eyebrow, quizzically. It was as if he was inviting me to pour out my heart, without fear of judgment or ridicule. I found myself talking, and pouring out my life story. He encouraged me with a quiet nod, or a thoughtful draw on his pipe. I told him about the invasion of Europe by hundreds of thousands, soon to be millions of so-called refugees. I told him of the crime, the rapes and the assaults. The wave of arson, and rabid intolerance. The polarization of Society. I told him of the left leaning Politicians in Total Denial, massaging the news and lying to their far too trusting voters. I told him of my fear for the collapse of Western Civilization, the eruption of multiple local civil wars. I told him of my abhorrence of Fundamental Islam. At the same time, I told him I thought it was wrong to color all Muslims with the same broad brush strokes. That I knew some were as appalled as I was, at the fundamental horrors of Shariah Law. I confessed I did not know what to believe anymore. I could not figure out even a coherent strategy to deal with what I saw as an unfolding tragedy of epochal dimensions. I said how much I abhorred violence, yet also that I had been trained to shoot and fight, and that I was no stranger to the application of Lethal Force. I recounted how I had received death threats and death wishes, and been labelled a monster and a crank. I asked him to tell me honestly if he thought I was a racist, bigoted, prejudiced or lacking in compassion. Intelligence and wisdom, even.
Eventually, all of a sudden, I was done. The torrent of words and doubt, the hunger and the confusion, the searching and the groping, all was shut off at the spigot. At once. Now, only silence, save the whistle and sigh of the wind, playing around the craggy rocks and cliffs. Below the waves boomed and crashed on submerged rocks, and salt spray jettisoned into an unruly sky. Seagulls circled and called, screeched and argued. Smaller birds darted around, hungry for a morsel, trying their best to avoid the hungry Skua.
The silence grew longer. He showed no disdain or even any emotion. When at length he smiled gently, I felt a strange relief. Fearful yet of his possible condemnation or judgment, I hung on his every word. He tapped out his pipe, and then, slowly but clearly, he told me a long story. It would be too long to recount here in full, but save it to say that it involved War and Peace, wise men and great fools. It involved arrogance and condescension, ill founded hubris, humility and compassion. It moved me to tears, and it also made me furiously angry.
Half way through, he had picked up a Big Stick.
It was a walking stick, in parts a very rough one, with a crook at one end, and a black, studded point at the other. A small, ornate, brass collar was mounted just below the crook. One could imagine him, climbing the cliffs, with the studded point stabbing the earth, and the crook held firmly in his gnarly hand. The upper half was light in color, and showed the wood grain beautifully. The bottom half of the stick became progressively rougher, darker and uglier, until it ended in the black, stabbing tip. He laid it across his knees, the crook to his right, and the stabbing tip to his left, and asked me, gently:
“What is this…?”
“It’s a big stick”, I answered, truthfully.
He smiled. “More than a stick…”
He watched me, questioningly. I saw only a light-and-dark stick. He held up his thumb and forefinger, two inches or so apart, as if he were holding an invisible egg up to the light for examination.
“What you have here is a measuring tool for the length and breadth of the human race.”
I didn’t understand. He smiled again, and placed his thumb and forefinger on the beautifully grained oak crook.
“Here at the very top you have the Light. The light is brought by some of the best and most well intentioned, good hearted people in the entire human race. They are artists and thinkers, idealists and planners. They share unselfishly, and see themselves as part of the great human family. They will give you the shirt off their back. How-ever…”
He paused, for effect, and I tried to follow his reasoning. I watched him take his thumb and forefinger, still holding the invisible egg, and place it at the other end of the shaft, near the dark bottom, not far from the stabbing tip.
“Here at the bottom, where it is dark, you have the fighters. Here there is coarse work to be done, and the merciless stabbing of the Earth takes place. The people down here are far removed in thinking from those artists, dreamers and thinkers at the top. They don’t understand the Light, or have any patience for it. Their thoughts are cold and vicious, and there is only Darkness at this end.”
He now placed the index finger of his left hand at the crook, and the index finger of his right hand on the sharp tip.
“The distance between the top, and the bottom, in terms of enlightenment and sensitivity, is as wide as the Great Gulf can be. It is a huge distance. Very often, those at the top completely fail to understand the Darkness at the bottom. The Light makes the mistake of attributing values that it cherishes, to the Dark. It tries to shine into the Dark. With the best motivations possible. Well, the Dark does not share those values. The Dark sees such earnest approaches, such offerings of Light, as mere weakness, that makes it easy to infiltrate, under the disguise of friendship. But the Dark often is not only unmoved by the Light, but actually wishes only to extinguish it. “
Vaguely, I started to see the symbolism. He was speaking allegorically. I struggled to follow, but it was as if I could hear a door opening somewhere.
He moved his hands away from the top and bottom of the stick. Holding them in front of my face now, clasped together as if in prayer, the fingers flat together, he smiled as he said:
“Now consider the breadth of understanding that exists in any one man or woman, when it comes to grasping the battle between Light and Dark.”
He moved his praying hands two inches apart. I watched his earnest face through the narrow gap.
“Many people are only this wide, in terms of the range of their understanding. If they are at the top of the stick…”
He placed his two hands, still two inches apart, near the light colored crook.
“If they dwell at the top of the stick, but only this narrow in their understanding, they are vulnerable in their innocence. They are good people, great artists and thinkers, great workers for the common good. But they attribute to the Dark values they cherish themselves. The Dark has a huge advantage over these people. The Dark can play these people, infiltrate, in order to kill the Light…”
He placed his two hands, still two inches apart, near the Dark and gritty tip.
“If they inhabit only this Dark end of the spectrum, they hate the Light. They don’t understand the Light, or love it. They don’t seek it, or wish to preserve it. They will play along, as your Fundamental Fuzlim friends will, but when the time is right, they will rise up like snakes in the night. You are right when you see the rabid, fanatical element wishes only to conquer, and to impose it’s absolute Shariah pounding will, as they have for 1400 years of terrible bloodshed in a suffering world.”
I understood. He had built his case. I saw the range of human values and colorings, I saw the distance, I sensed the terrible dilemma, and the approaching Night. But I failed to see the conclusion. I sighed from the heart.
“What can I do?”, I said, softly and sadly. A feeling of helplessness sweeping over me. He leaned back in his chair, and slowly started to fill another pipe. It took him several thoughtful minutes, before smoke once again billowed forth in patient clouds.
“There is a lot you can do”, he said, at length. And my simple heart leaped.
“You can study the ways of those who walk in the Light, but don’t understand the Darkness.”
He was tapping the crook.
“You can study the ways of those who walk in the Dark, and wish only to stab the Light.”
Now he was tapping the gritty, scarred tip.
“What all that means is, you must walk in the Light, but never fail to study and UNDERSTAND the DARK. You must know the ways of the Dark, and as a trained fighter, you must be able to meet force with force, and never rely exclusively on well meaning but toothless words alone.”
I nodded. I thought of my Karate skills and my guns, the scars and the bullets. I thought of War and Peace. I thought of quiet mornings, with only the sound of my thoughts, Kahlil Gibran and Dostoevsky on my mind, and I remembered the urban riots, the screams, the sirens, the Molotov Cocktails, the raw hate and the vicious blows. I remembered the round whispering past my ear. I remembered peering down the sights, my mouth a thin, bloodless line, and my finger breathing off the trigger, one pound of relentless pressure at a time.
I turned away, and looked out over the Ocean. I saw the endless marching waves, the Universal Soldiers, called upon by their elders to take upon themselves great burdens the callers would never lift. I heard the Wind of the Ages, and the sighing of Human Destiny. I wondered then if the Human family would ever cease its relentless infighting, like so many quarrelsome children in a small house? This pale Blue Dot, this pixel in Space, lost in a Greater Darkness. Where, in truth, we have only ourselves for the warmth and comfort of human company.
I sighed, reflecting on his words. When I turned back to him, he was holding the stick by the two ends.
“It is your calling to understand the whole Big Stick, not just parts of it. For that you must leave your comfort zone, where you are happiest. You must travel far and wide, and ask many questions. It will be a long, tough journey. There is a small boat waiting below at the pier. Some others are already on board.”
Suddenly he tossed the stick in the air, twirled it around, and then caught it expertly with one hand. Now he was balancing the Big Stick carefully in the middle. I knew what he meant. It was a balancing act, requiring self control, and good judgment.
He passed that Big Stick to me then, and as I made my way down to the pier, watching the first rays of sunset probe their gentle fingers across the torn and divided world of Mortal Man, I reflected on the ancient truths, and modern re-discoveries of those ancient truths.
“If you want peace, Prepare for War”.
“Walk softly, and carry a Big Stick.”
“Yeah, though I walk gently in the valley of Darkness, and offer all who I meet the hand of friendship, I shall fear no Evil. For if it has to be, and there is absolutely no alternative, I can be the meanest thug in the whole valley.”
At the bottom of the cliff, I walked carefully along a small, uneven pier. At the end lay moored a small, wooden boat, with some passengers waiting for me.
I turned and look back up at that old house, inhabited by an old man. An ancient warrior, his heart and outlook molded in the crucible of the intense battle of Life. He was watching, and waved his pipe gaily at me in farewell.
Somehow, I knew he was right. I turned up my collar, braced my face against the wind, and took my first step on a New Journey. I thought of the harsh accusations that awaited me, the contempt and loathing, the death threats and the expulsion from polite PC society.
But the words of Voltaire came back to my mind.
“The Koran teaches fear, hatred, contempt for others, murder as a legitimate means for the dissemination and preservation of this satanic doctrine, it talks ill of women, classifies people into classes, calls for blood and ever more blood. Yet, that a camel trader sparks uproar in his tribe, that he wants to make his fellow citizens believe that he talked to the archangel Gabriel; that he boasted about being taken up into heaven and receiving a part of that indigestible book there, which can shake common sense on every page, that to gain respect for this work, he covers his country with fire and iron, that he strangles fathers, drags away daughters, that he leaves the beaten a free choice between death and his faith: now this is certainly something that no-one can excuse, unless he came as a Turk into the world, unless superstition has stifled any natural light of reason in him. ”
I sighed, and we all pushed off together. Our small boat, rocking on the waves, carried just us, a handful of kindred, determined souls. We smiled at one another.
I decided I liked our simple vessel’s name.
It had a nice ring of sincerity and truth about it.
Last edited by Francis Meyrick on February 21, 2016, 7:26 pm