Yesterday me and my partner enjoyed one of those universal pleasures which unite us all. We went round to see some friends and welcome their new baby into the world. They had longed for this baby forever and it’s arrival was a cause for satisfaction and joy. Neither of them is an expressive person but the pleasure and sense of fulfillment they showed as we fussed over the baby was part of a scene we would all recognise anywhere in the world. The girls discussed feeding and cleaning techniques whilst me and her husband talked of boats and sea faring, looking on fondly as the warmth of this new life filled the room. During my discussion with the husband our conversation touched on cafes and finally the pleasure of a good sausage.
I feel passionately about sausages. For me a good sausage, well cooked and presented, is one of the great pleasures of life . In my travels I sometimes meet other sausage ites and our mutual recognition of the importance of this humble foodstuff connects us regardless of any other differences lives and customs make to our general approach to life. Sadly, I have to recognise, that not all of us worship sausages. Some have other, to me ,more bewildering centres of obsession.
All over the world we have different customs and beliefs which seem to divide us and mark one country and culture apart from another. I can listen to an Indian expressing their involvement with dhal or a Frenchman discuss pastries and recognise their passion, even though the object of their emotion is so different to mine. Beyond the world of catering the differences can deepen in rituals ,ways of behaviour and the expression of faith or the lack of it. The pattern and customs of my life are different from those held dear by people in Asia, Africa , Europe or even to some extent to the man across the road. These differences are fascinating, sometimes the cause of bewilderment, and even wars.
The evil and cruelty of an individual can resonate with a nation plunging large parts of the world into periods of violence and carnage which, as time distances us from the event, leave us shaking our heads at the damage we can do to each other and the planet on which we live . Confronting evil, however expressed, is a necessity but doing so casts no light on the world. It serves to protect us from the darkness which threatens to engulf it, but the need to do so is a sad necessity free of any joy.
Recently I watched a film were a man centered in himself and the world around him talked to a young boy of another culture. He made the world accessible to him and made him aware of the way great events can be made sense of by the small occurrences and need we all have to love and be loved. , I think of this man from another time and culture who, divided from me by faith custom and priority, saw the world so clearly and reminded me that the humanity I feel is present in us all. We seem to lose so much of life by doubting the simple hidden in the complex . Walking down the street and passing by the other lives which I will never know, I remind myself the deeper you go into the human heart, what joins us is more real and precious than that which divides us.