CLEAN AIR ACTS
There is little more frustrating that seeing through a misty gloom that something is there and another man, from the same perspective and with the same gloom encircling him, seeing something completely different.
I remember when I was a kid in the fifties there were regular â€œpea-soupersâ€, that is, periods of that disgusting mixture of fog and smoke that made you splutter, made your clothes stink of all manner of noxious substances and had, associated with it, an increase in the mortality of old and young alike. Pea-soupers were foul and thank goodness that clean air enactments by Government have largely eliminated them. It's ages since we had any kind of pea-souper in this neck of the woods even though mists and fogs, purely natural phenomenon, do sometimes fall like a blanket on our world.
Yet hardly ever did one man see one thing whilst another see something different even when visibility was almost nil. Occasionally the bulk of someone walking towards you might be hard to identify until that person was close because it's difficult to identify anyone when he's just a shadow lurching through the gloom, but mostly one person saw the same as the chap walking next to him.
But as I said, there aren't many pea-soupers any more because the air, by law, has to be clean. Yet from time to time we come upon perfectly amicable people who see things that aren't there. There are some who swear that black is white when it comes to a statue of a two thousand year-old long-dead mother crying in the shadows of a nook on a roadside. The tears aren't there â€“ can't be there unless concrete has found a way of crying â€“ but they see them, swear by them, are absolutely certain that the statue is shedding real salt tears â€“ and a strange kind of belief in the unreal is reinforced, especially when they go about telling their friends. Crowds gather, a date when the phenomenon appeared is noted and celebrated annually. A myth is given birth.
And there are other mysteries that people see and are convinced are as real as the clouds in the sky. There are the faces of holy men seen in slices of toast or the flames of a fire or any unlikely place. True, the scorch marks on a slice of toasted bread can look like anything we want it to look like if we're careful when we toast it, but looking like something and actually being that something are two different things. The slice of toast that looks as if it might have an image of Christ scorched on it has nothing whatsoever to do with any long-dead prophet but rather the sometimes odd effects you can get quite randomly when something is being burned.
Yet these apparent miraculous images are the fog, and it only takes the malevolent nodding and winking by a handful of men whose best interests are served by the confusion of religion to provide the smoke, and there you have a pea-souper.
I see one thing, the thing I'm sure is really there, and some see something completely different, something that all the rules of nature insist can't be there, and because of the smog what they see is confused and nothing to do with reality at all.
What we want, if we're all to see clearly, is a new kind of clean air act. A spiritual one.
Â© Peter Rogerson 05.02.11