family matters

A familyYes it does.

And to start with, family matters … well, they matter a lot.

That’s when I thought I’d use the idea of family to shed light on where we’re at in society.

Politicians are always – inaccurately – comparing the nation’s finances to a personal credit card, so I thought I’d give them a bit of their own medicine.


Let’s imagine two parents whose names were Leeda and Trausaz.

Let’s imagine three children whose names were Biffy, Skwawka and Munchita.

They all lived in a beautiful house with a surviving grandparent called Kaindli.

Now let’s see where this takes us.

Leeda and Trausaz had a bit of a complex relationship.  Leeda thought they led in all important issues, but Trausaz was clear this was only part of the truth.  Nevertheless, they worked hard to make things work, and generally put on a brave and coherent face to the world.  They loved their family, all its members, with equal respect and consideration.

They believed in words like collaboration, consultation, democracy and love.  In return, what they most got from their children was love, democracy, consultation and collaboration.

And one thing they never forgot: Kaindli, their only surviving grandparent of the four they had all once known, was treasured both as the elder statesman of the family as well as the provider of noble sentiments and wisdoms various.

Things went fine for a decade or so.  But eventually, things didn’t go so well – and no one really knew how it all began to unravel.  For unravel it did.

First, Biffy, now quite a grown-up adolescent, discovered a letter in a deep, dark place.  It was written in a strange hand and addressed to Kaindli, with much familiarity.  When confronted with the letter, for confrontation was inevitable once read, Kaindli reacted as they’d never seen them before: aggressively, frighteningly, disturbingly … these were the words, not words like love, which immediately came to mind.

Kaindli shook and shouted and even screamed out loud.

From that day on, the family was never the same.

Nothing got explained, of course.  The letter was too terrifyingly dark to encourage further venturing into areas of reconciliation and truth.

But it was impossible to forget and unsee, once seen and remembered.

No one was able to.

Neither Kaindli nor the children nor the – by now – extremely troubled parents.

In fact, if truth be told, the parents had already been troubled.  Financial problems had begun to plague their peace of mind; to plague their joint ability to sleep calmly at night and reflect their notable altruism during the day.

The solidarity and gentleness which had always characterised their relationship simply fell away as a snakeskin falls off a snake – becoming dry, cracked, brittle and ultimately without any significant level of utility.

The beautiful house seemed to mirror Kaindli’s evermore covert and corrupting disgrace, burrowing as it did into the confidence the family members had always managed to show to the world – and to each other – in other, quite different, times: what was now turning into a long-forgotten past; a past which at first burned brightly through its absence, and which finally – through its burning – caught fire and simply burnt out.

So the beautiful family and the beautiful house, unable to come to terms with secretive soul, with financial embarrassment, with an inability to communicate in difficult moments of savage pain, did what any unhappy community does in similar circumstances: it turned in on itself and began to apportion blame.

Leeda blamed Trausaz; Trausaz gave Kaindli the evil eye, Biffy fought with Skwawka, Skwawka spread malicious gossip about Munchita – and Munchita, being the youngest of them all, said: “Bugger this!  I’m going to make a film.”

To spill the beans, to tell the truth, to reveal to the world how destructive pain can be.

To try and warn other communities that pain inverted in on oneself never solves any problems.

And when they heard this, and when Kaindli realised what might happen, and when the parents saw the shame that would fall upon their lineage, and when the other two children understood Munchita was speaking seriously … well, that was when they fell as one … and that was when they destroyed the only thing, the only person, the only instinct which might’ve saved their once so beautifully burnished, now so terribly forgotten past.

And so that is how the story ends.

Somewhere below a now decrepit family house of undeniably wonderful memories lies a frank and honest mind, a sincere and straightforward person, a whistleblowing impulse which tried – on just one occasion – to set the record properly straight.

Only, the record is too scratched, the stylus too blunt, the player too gamed for the body – ie the body politic too – to do anything but rot inevitably amongst the worms.

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