Wednesday, 11 October 2017

All the D words, a bit of a rant and a catch up

Ok - so I fail at the first hurdle: of course I can't list all the D words in this post. Well, theoretically I could, I suppose, but it would create a dull, dreary and not particularly daring blog. I'd lose my readers quicker than a duck, diving for dragon-fly larvae, in a duck-pond. But incase you missed it, I'll pick up one of those D words again: daring. That's the one.

Daring - adjective: definition - to be adventurous, fearless, unafraid or bold. Origin: Old English, durran - to brave danger.

So ignore the "All the D words" bit of the title and insert 'Some D words; one D word in particular; a bit of a rant and a doggy catch up."
Huh! I hear you cry - actually I don't, but I like to delude myself that you noticed; that there even is a you to notice that I inserted another D word. The canine, four-legged, lick-you-in-the-face-if-you-get-too-close D word, that is, after all, appropriate for a blog called Walking the D-og.

Dogs! It's autumn. Autumn = apple season. Apples = stuffed canine friends. Absolutely stuffed canine friends. Four-legged-friend and Bertie Baggins are on a self-inflicted apple diet. The apples go in and apple-y excrement comes out, much to the apparent delight of the woodpeckers who toss it around all over the grass, presumably gorging themselves, disgustingly, on the partially digested lumps of apple. Eurgh!
Apple-tummies demand an increase in daily exercise

"Please take me and my tummy ache for a walk,"

Unfortunately, walks sometimes have pop-up or in this case fall-down cafe's. You can never eat too many apples, right?

But a re-stuffing results in an I-need-to-sleep-this-off silent, stationary protest and a dogged determination to waddle slowly for the rest of the way home

I digress. The apples will soon be gone - into chutneys, crumbles, jellies, compost, dogs and deer (judging by the hoof prints) and an unseen badger (judging by the neat piles of poo in shallow, scraped out holes).
Doggy catch-up done.
Back to Daring. And some homework. Not mine. Term has started for Littlest (who really can't go on being called Littlest for much longer - there's probably about a year before she ceases to be Littlest in stature, much to the disillusion and disgruntlement of one of her older sibling-ettes). With a new term term comes new homework. With homework and sleepy end-of-the-day heads comes cups of coffee and a parent struggling to decipher an algebraic x from y and navigate between masculine and feminine endings in French - it must have been a man who decided that when he sat on a chair, at a table and watched his wife put the kettle on for him, before she loaded the washing machine and did the washing up, there were six feminine things within that sentence. Thank heavens we don't have to argue about the gender of inanimate things in English. Anyway, I am distracting myself; again. Back to business and homework and in particular English and a critical essay on a choice of two poems, taken from a collection of about a dozen. All the poems tackled discrimination.
One in particular, tackled the discrimination of race. I hope I can quote from it here and that there aren't any copyright issues because I'm about to. I'm daring to, if you like. But not exactly the daring that I'm leading to - yes, very slowly. I know. But you are being led there, so 'Bear with' as Miranda Hart's dear friend Tilly might say (look it up if she's new to you). It (might) be worth it.

The poem is Caged Bird by Maya Angelou:

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to climb the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings and clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown 
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

For me, it's the first verse that stands out; that walloped me in the face, waking me from my caffeine fuelled, parental, homework-was-never-this-hard-in-my-day stupor. And within that verse, one word - a D word - in the last line, dares. Angelou could have chosen different words but the insertion of dares shines a beacon on the arrogance and self-belief that only the truly free can summon when making the choice to do something risky. Fear stalks those who are oppressed, making them wary of retribution and stands between them and the freedom to make choices. This makes them careful. Always watchful. Averse to doing things that they imagine might lead them into trouble. They wear the bars of their societal cage metaphorically and imovably. For them to be daring, they must first be brave. The free man has no need of being brave because, whatever he does, life is comfortable, full of fat worms on a dawn bright lawn. And, as even the sky belongs to him, his life knows no limits.

So where am I leading you?
Downwards; onto one knee, as you will discover if you delve further into the words below (... 3 D words on one line!)

I'm not going to pretend that I understand the details of the politics behind the take a knee movement in the USA. And I suspect I just fully declared my ignorance by implying that politics is behind it. Politics has certainly taken notice; its Dolt-in-chief has tweeted from the floor of his adult day care centre, like Nero playing the violin while flood and fire ravage the earth. Politics has staged its own theatrical, ridiculous, petulant and expensive counter-protest and has elevated taking a knee to a significant and highly (purposefully?) distracting and now political issue.
But at its heart - at its origin - it is about peoples caged by prejudices taking the only 'stand' they can - silent (in this case) and visually shocking but dignified. Theirs is a stand against discrimination, particularly the discrimination by those in authority that drives divisions in society. It is not a stand (or kneel) against the flag, nor against the military. They are simply saying that they are not free and have never been free to dare to climb the sky - why? Because although they know they can, they can't. They know that to openly confront discrimination would attract name-calling, bullying and risk retribution. It would heap more dirt on the graves of their dreams. Their cages might be metaphorical but trap them as securely as a prison wall; cages and walls, with bars and bricks, cemented deep in racial history. We - yes, we - wherever we are - should reflect on this and be ashamed. It's a cliche but in death we all make identical piles of bones. If we are the same on the inside, why can't our brains accept that we are the same on the outside. The caged birds of the NFL shouldn't have to kneel - that is the point of their protest. And until we can see this none of us will truly be free.