My mother believed in Causality, especially when it came to Blame. When something happened it was the direct result of an action. A fine example of Newtonion Physics operating in real life. So when I went into premature labour and Madette popped out some two months ahead of schedule, the first question my mother asked “What did you do?”. Labour had started in the early hours of the morning. It woke me up. So the answer to the question was, “Nothing”. It just belonged in the “stuff happens” category. Probably if you had the diagnostic tools, you could trace it back to something defective in my physiology but there was nothing about the days or even months before that would have given the game away.
A friend, not part of
It’s written in the Stars. Pre-ordained. I share my birthday (date and year) with Vladimir Putin. So we are supposed to share the same love of justice, being even-handed and diplomatic. Well, we both seem to be running to fat in middle age. That’s because we’re Librans. I haven't asked Vlad recently but I put it down to cake. Which one of us would you be most afraid of? Just because I don’t have the ironmongery to hand, doesn’t make me nicer. But it’s got nothing to do with our birthdays.
Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has a lot of useful pointers for everyday life. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” I suppose it’s at least a statement of good intent. Isn’t it a shame that we are having such a both turning them into reality. They are known as mitzvahs to the Jews. They've got 613 of them to help the individual and the nation come closer to God and to holiness. However, being closer to the Palestinians seems to be giving the state of Israel a devil of a time with the whole reality of rights. While I’m on the subject, I happened to notice which states hadn’t got round to signing or ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Amongst the usual suspects are Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Singapore. And the Vatican. Yes, you read that correctly. The Vatican. Please someone explain that to me. Or better still, go and explain it to them.
But these rights. Yes, some of them are in the bleeding obvious category. Born free and equal in dignity and rights. Right to life, liberty and security of person. Not subject to to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It almost makes you weep for humanity that we have to write these things down.
Perhaps it’s not rights that we need but some obligations. For someone to enjoy their rights, someone else needs to be fulfilling their obligations. So here is my “Declaration of Obligations”:
The obligation to care for your parents when they are old and frail. To sit with them as they leave this life behind. To argue with the bureaucracy for them to give them dignity and comfort.
The obligation to care for your children from the moment of their conception. They did not ask to be conceived. Give them unconditional love while helping them to understand their obligations and realise their potential. To help them grow into fully capable adults able to manage their own lives when you have gone.
The obligation to care for your partner, to support and love so that they can be happy and fulfilled. And through thick and thin.
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds
The obligation to see everyone as individuals because, if you recognise them as each one precious and unique, you will know that you have no right to torture or degrade them or treat them less than yourself.
The obligation to care for the planet so that you don't diminish other people's rights to security, shelter, food.
The obligation to care for your animals. Feed, love, tend with compassion, even when it means letting them go.
The obligation to care for yourself so that you do not diminish the total of human happiness and well-being. By failing to look after your body and mind you deny someone else the possibility for care.
So, not Blame, Fate, the Stars or even Rights. Stuff happens. Deal with it. And remember your Obligations.
What are yours?