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A New Pattern for the Kaleidoscope

A New Pattern for the Kaleidoscope

Issue 6 Jun / Jul 2004

First Published on July/August 2004

To access the issue page, click here 


As EURO 2004 showed us, it’s hard being an England football supporter. The hope, the expectation, the feeling that “this tournament is the one.” And then the getting overthe fact that we never win penalty shoot-outs. We had to explain to our eight-year olds on that such is the nature of life – you win, you lose. They are two sides of the same coin. But,as Kipling wrote, 'If you can meet with triumph, and disaster, /And treat those two impostorsjust the same,' then you are on your way to having the tools to deal with much of life’s ups and downs.

He also wrote something else: 'If you can force your heart, and nerve, and sinew/To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you/Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”'

What insight! To keep heart, to hold your nerve, to force your tired aching body to carry onregardless. Life’s lessons are never easy, but the challenges are there to create better people. Where would we be without the challenges that life brings? We would amount to little. Challenges force you to stop, reflect, and grow as a human being.

And that is what is needed right now. With the challenges that the modern world bring; with the challenges that the men of violence on all sides cause; at the crossroads as we are, we as human beings need to grow. We as human beings need to take heart even though the violence,the chaos, the sense of madness saps the heart of fortitude. We need to hold our nerve even though we are challenged by those who would have us take sides in conflicts that cannot be won by violence. We have to gather our resources even though they are at there most depleted. Andin this weak state still find the will to navigate a middle path through the turmoil, for 'We have appointed you a middle nation to act as witnesses unto humanity, and the Prophet to act as awitness unto you.' (Qur’an 2:143)

I am making it sound dramatic, daunting, perhaps. Yet, whilst the challenges of the modern world are many, we need to find the means to face them, for today’s world needs an integrated spiritual worldview. It needs a new perspective. By this I do not mean black and white religious dogma; by this I do not mean the 'them or us' thinking. We have enough of all that already.

What I mean is that we need the openness of heart and mind to come together with others who may not share our race, nationality or religion and to find a new way to live. We will need to be patient, for many on all sides will have misconceptions which will require re-education. We will have to have etiquette for we will be dealing with real people, with all their emotions. And most of all we will have to have a positive mental attitude for, to be sure, there will be many difficult times. But we have to believe that we can make effective change and a real contributionto the street… neighbourhood… community… society… the world in which we live.

So to paraphrase Kipling:

'If we can keep our heads when all about us Are losing theirs and blaming it on us,

If we can trust ourselves when all men doubt us,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If we can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.'

Then maybe, just maybe, we can affect a change for the better in this world that will resonate throughout history. As it has been said, the kaleidoscope is being shaken; it has not resettled yet. It is up to us to decide the new pattern.

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