Friday, March 21, 2008
"I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
When I was growing up, the road that ran by our house was much quieter than it is today. We could walk our dogs, ride our bicycles in safety knowing that we were getting fresh air and exploring the world at the same time. We could almost have laid down on the ground and gone to sleep, it was that peaceful.
My aunt was motoring near our house one day when she passed my brother, at the time about seven years old, walking in the opposite direction toward the village.
It was a thoroughly legitimate trip; the traffic was light and he had walked the road often. My aunt flew home to my mother and asked if she knew that my brother was out walking.
My mother concurred that he had been given permission but she did not know what else my aunt had witnessed.
My brother was apparently keeping the traffic at bay with his small hands. Any time a vehicle came whizzing by he stood to the side with palms outstretched as if to say, "keep back. Don't dare to hit me."
Of course my brother did not know it- but at no time was he in any real danger, given that he stepped onto the grass when something passed him. It was a vision of trust and innocence and the fervent belief that we can each control our lives.
I write for pleasure; my brother plays guitar. This week he has begun giving lessons to a man who came to my home in Ireland to install some shelves and cupboards at my mother's bequest. The fellow had always longed to play an instrument and it transpired that my brother would teach him how.
The two stories are not unconnected: hands have power, and ordinary people can indeed take charge. With words or music we might be able to keep the monsters at bay and lighten the universe of its sad and heavy load.
The pen, it has been said for more than a hundred years, is mightier than the sword. The hand that holds a pen, plays a guitar, prepares food or utilises any needed and joyful skill has the ultimate power to change the world.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 11:20 AM