Day 849

School playgrounds are challenging places. Many of us haven’t quite survived them or their equivalents. They are part of growing up and some of the memories created there, stay with us for a long time. Our childhood never leaves us.

The playground has now extended itself into our private spaces via the World Wide Web. There is nowhere to hide. No place is safe. The aggressors can be cowardly and hide but the attacked are exposed even when sitting alone in their bedrooms. Any child from any background can be a victim and any child from any background can be a culprit.

How easy it is to make people feel they don’t fit in, by words or by indifference. Many agonise over fitting in and being accepted for who they are. The deep desire to fit in can cause misery for life. The feelings of non-acceptance are deeply damaging when internalised, leading to long term mental and physical health problems.

It must not be easy for kids to talk about being bullied. It must hurt. It must be embarrassing. Attention needs to be paid to what they say to alert us to the subtle or overt bullying that goes on. Every blessing requires care and commitment. Everyone needs to feel loved and valued. While meanness may afford short-term gains, kindness is transformative.

In Primary school, Saagar’s friend Adam always stood up for him in the ‘school playground’. They were best friends for many years and I am very grateful to Adam for his kindness. Saagar was too even though at the time he did not know that he would not survive the playground. Neither did I. 

Henry James said, “ Three things in human life are important: first is to be kind; second is to be kind; and third is to be kind.”

The ‘Special K’.

 

 

Day 846

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Simba Muzira, son of Sara Muzira.
Exhibition of Art, Long Gallery, Maudsley Hospital. London.
Simba Muzira. Doing it again.

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Spray paint. Street art. Bold statements. Clear expressions. Innocent eyes. Pure soul.
Courage. Suffering. Passion.

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Pigeons telling him not to wear his shoes. Pigeons everywhere! No words!

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A mother’s tribute to her talented son who died at 32 after living with mental illness for a few years, in and out of the hospital. Her accounts of doing things in his best interest which turned out otherwise. Her heartbreak at having to live away from him when he was too ill to be at home. Her sense of an utter waste of a young life full of promise. Her guilt. Again and again. Her love. Immeasurable.

I salute you. Sara and Simba Muzira.

 

Day 839

A few weeks ago Desert Island Discs completed 75 years on BBC Radio4.(http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08cd2fk) A brief excerpt of an interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu caught my ear. He talked about his experience of freedom when he came to England in the 1960s. He could go into any restaurant, speak openly and be himself. White policemen spoke to him with respect. He said that anyone who had never experienced such a great contrast as the one between his home country and the UK would not understand how wonderful that freedom felt.

This made me think about what freedom means to me. I read some of the Archbishop’s teachings and found the ancient Bantu word ‘Ubuntu’ meaning “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”.

“Ubuntu .. the very essence of being human. A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”

“We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family.”

“My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours. We belong in a bundle of life. A person is a person through other persons; you can’t be human in isolation; you are human only in relationships” ― Desmond Tutu

Nelson Mandela said something similar – ‘For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.’

Freedom cannot be achieved by isolating oneself. Waging wars in the name of freedom is a fundamentally flawed concept, be it nations or individuals. Freedom is uplifting and life enhancing for everyone, not for one at the cost of the other. Ubuntu.

‘I am what I am because of who we all are.’