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Month: December 2023

Finding the Light

Finding the Light

Image Source: Young Shanahan Wikipedia

Harper inhaled a couple of times, trying to shield her cigarette from the rising wind.

“I can’t believe you’re lighting a smoke,” Dia said, nervously looking around

“Why?” Harper said. “There’s no one here except that old man over there and he’s not gonna notice. Likely couldn’t care less anyway. Not like anyone really does,” she said as she blew some smoke into the wind.

“I’m just saying.”

“Who cares.” She plunged the spade into the soil and started digging. “I mean, why worry about it? This is just a temporary thing to teach ‘you teens how to take responsibility for your actions.” She mimed the last part, pretending to quote the words of the social worker, assigned to their case. Dia laughed at Harper’s words and continued to also dig her holes.

They continued to work until their dinner break. Dutifully, Harper and Dia walked over to the picnic tables where they usually take their break.

“How’s it going girls?” Mr. Oldfield said, giving them their bags. “If you need to fill your water bottles, it’s best to use the water in the shed. The water from the hose is just meant for the plants.” Dia smiled.

“Thanks, sir.” Mr. Oldfield smiled and then walked away, picking up the tree saplings and moving them to where they’ll be planted.

“Why’re you sucking up to him?”

“What’ya mean?” Dia said, turning to look at Harper.

“Thanks, sir,” she said, imitating Dia.

“Just being polite,” she said, taking a bite of her sandwich. Harper rolled her eyes.

“He’s an old man who’d much rather be lawn bowling or whatever, than making sure two rowdy girls don’t destroy his beloved community garden.”

“Well, all I know is he seems really nice.” Harper rolled her eyes, each bite an expression of her aggravation.

After they finished eating, Harper and Dia headed back to the area of the garden they were working on. The idea was to extend the community garden and prepare it for planting.

Harper dug down again, everything floating through her mind, remembering her dad was coming to see her at the weekend. She hoped he didn’t bring his new wife. Harper couldn’t stand the woman who was just about ten years older than herself. It was stupid and really kinda pathetic.

But her mind went to her mother who was currently away with her girlfriends to some amazing card game or something. She was sure it’d just be an excuse to drink and squeal and whatever they do. I mean, act your age. What a waste of time. Sinking her spade into the ground with some added strength, fuelled by her assorted grievances with life at the moment.

“What’s that,” Harper said as she scraped away some dirt from something in the hole she just dug. Kneeling down she reached down and identified some sort of chain. Pulling more at the dirt, she was finally able to reveal what appeared to be a pendant.

“Hey, Dia. Come look what I found.” Dia dropped her shovel and came over.

“What’s that? Was it in the dirt?” she said, as she scrutinised the pendant Harper was holding.

“Yeah. I was digging in the ground and then this was just in the dirt. Weird, eh?”

“Yeah. What’s on it, Harp?” Harper started to scuff off the dirt. There appeared to be a three part spiral design. “It’s weird. But it’s cool, hey.” She smiled and gave it to Dia who turned it around, polishing it a little.

“What’ve you found girls?” Mr. Oldfield said. Harper looked at him warily, the same way she viewed all adults.

“Harper found this when she was digging,” she said, holding it up for Mr. Oldfield to see. She looked at Harper, ensuring it was okay to ask, but Harper just stood there with her arm resting on her shovel and looking at Dia and Mr. Oldfield.

“Oh, isn’t that interesting,” Mr. Oldfield said, taking the pendant and turning it over and around.

“Do you know what it is?” Dia said, taking another quick look at Harper.

“Most certainly. You’ve got yourself a nice little find. Looks to be gold, too. Someone must’ve been wearing it and it came loose. Is the tie broken on it?” Harper looked.

“Doesn’t seem to be.”

“Oh, well, who knows. Maybe it was meant to be,” Mr. Oldfield said, smiling. “I’m not sure how this place was used before they decided to use it for the community garden.” He looked into the sky, trying to think. “Although I seem to recall it used to be an old residential area. But they fell into disuse decades ago. I think I was only a boy at the time.” He laughed.

“But do you know what that symbol is?” Dia said.

“Well, yes. It’s very well known. It’s called a Triskelion. Thousands of years old,” he said as he held the pendant up to see the symbol more clearly. “It’s beautiful. But yeah, it’s often termed a Celtic Triskelion. But as I mentioned, it predates them. Although, it’s something they adopted to adorn many of their objects. I mean, it’s a symbol used across Europe, really. How it travelled from one place to another isn’t known,” he said. Harper came and looked again at the pendant.

“That’s pretty amazing,” Harper said.

“And it’s actually really amazing because in a few months, we’re going to have midwinter.” Harper and Dia furrowed their eyebrows. “Well that’s when we officially enter winter. It’s the longest night. And actually the Triskelion is one of the images carved into the rock at Newgrange.”

“Where’s Newgrange?” Dia said.

“It’s in Ireland. And with at sunrise, a shaft of light enters a roof-box over the entrance and then shines down the passage-way.”

“Wow,” Harper said. “Imagine that. They must’ve really had to work to make sure everything was lined up properly.

“Oh yes. They were a clever lot, that’s for sure.”

“So, every winter, this happens?” Harper said, turning the pendant around in her hand.

“Every winter. You figure out what the sunrise is in Ireland come winter solstice and that’s what’ll be happening.”

“How do you know all this Mr. Oldfield,” Dia asked. “You’re pretty smart.” He smiled.

“No, no. I just read a lot, I guess. If you go to the library, I’m sure you’d be able to find several books on the Triskelion. You could even just look it up on the internet. No doubt, there’ll be a good bit on all of these things.”

“Seems really special.” Harper said, mostly to herself.

“Well, it is very special. Things like the Triskelion and all the beliefs centred around it remind us of our connections with this world.” He raised his hands, gesturing all around. “It’s our connection with the universe. It gives us a chance to put things into perspective a bit.” He looked at Harper, their eyes meeting. “Do you understand what I’m saying?” Harper looked away. “These people worked from dawn until dusk. The most important thing to them was the returning of the light because that’s all the winter solstice meant to them. More than anything, it meant their continued survival. Do you understand?” Harper looked again at him, slowly nodding her head.

“Ah, Mr. Oldfield, that’s just beautiful,” Dia said. “I just want to give you a hug.” She hugged Mr. Oldfield, her eyes closed as she smiled brightly. Harper looked away, off into the horizon somehow gathering her thoughts.

“Anyway, girls, I think we’re done for the day. I’ll see you tomorrow. That’ll be your last day, won’t it?” Dia nodded her head vigorously, smiling.

“But it’s been fun, hasn’t it Harp?” Harper shrugged her shoulders, picking up her knapsack. Mr. Oldfield smiled at Dia.

The next day, Harper and Dia came with the social worker. Mr. Oldfield was already there puttering around the garden. Harper and Dia got out of the car and walked over to Mr. Oldfield.

“How are you doing girls?” Mr Oldfield said.

“Not too bad, Mr. Oldfield,” Dia said.

“How about you, Harper?” She just gave him the thumbs up, her hand involuntarily going to her neck. He smiled, their eyes meeting. “You understand what I said about your pendant, don’t you?” Harper nodded her head slowly, being fairly sure he knew she was wearing it. It didn’t matter. She’d cleaned it up last night and felt the urge to wear it.

“Yeah, I do. It’s important to always be strong and to know your place in the world, to know your have a place in the world.”

“That’s my girl. You’ve got it.” Harper smiled. She and Dia took their shovels and, knapsacks on their backs, went off to further extend the community garden.

The Golden Rule As a Pathway to Peace?

The Golden Rule As a Pathway to Peace?

Image by Rosy / Bad Homburg / Germany from Pixabay.

Many of us look at the countless never-ending wars darkening our world at present, wondering, is there ever a chance for world peace? Could there ever be some reason for people to lay down their arms? Some would say the only way would be some vast unifying catastrophe. But the likelihood of such an event is fairly slim. But is there ever a chance?

Perhaps we are left relying solely on people’s personal beliefs and ethics, what guides their behaviour. There are various principles over the millennia that have been used to help steer us through life. One of the most notable ones is the Golden Rule. Could it be the lodestar able to guide us toward peace?

Why Do We Fight One Another?

When we look around our world, seeing the countless disputes, it’s simply more of the same. We’ve been doing that sort of thing for thousands of years in some form or another. We’ve fought one another for numerous reasons, each eventually leading to a dispute. For one, there’s a wish to seek economic gain whether that involves fighting over something of value. It could be livestock, land, fuel or minerals. If you’ve got it and I want it. Invariably, there’ll be problems.

Territorial gain is another reason. One nation’s got land another believes should be theirs. Nations may also seek to have a buffer zone, more land or simply expansion as a display of power. Other reasons may include religion or nationalism, each pushing people to fight.

It’s clear to see how wars are a complex beast. Take for instance the current war in the Middle East where one can identify several reasons—religion, territorial gain, as well as economic gain. So, it’s rarely just one reason nations take up arms.

What of World Peace?

So, we have every reason to war with one another. And as a result, it’d seem that something like world peace is a tall order. Peace is defined in various manners, but overall, it’s a reflection of “quiet, calm, rapport, concord, truce; lack of hostility.”

Amongst people in families, circles of friends or a community, difficulties may erupt. But, in time, they often simmer down. At a larger scale, conflicts may occur within nations. However, while they often lead to distress, maybe even brutality, in time, they can abate. Witness the changes that have occurred in Ireland now that the religious difficulties have largely been put to rest.

All well and good. But what of world peace?

The Golden Rule

One of the principles many of us learned when we were younger was the Golden Rule. This was always intended as a rule to encourage and perhaps discourage certain actions with one another. So, for instance, we’re about to say something nasty about another person. Yet, we recall how it wouldn’t be so nice to experience such a thing ourselves. Hence, we realise it’s an unkind thing to do. So, maybe not, we realise.

Image of “Golden Rule Sign” that hung above the door of the employees’ entrance to the Acme Sucker Rod Factory in Toledo, Ohio, 1913 (Source: Wikipedia).

As we all know, the Golden Rule is a principle of great strength, able to guide people of all ages. It can do so regardless of even a diverse range of backgrounds and other qualities that sometimes separate us—sex, religion, nationality, and so on.

The Golden Rule is considered by some to be a central tenet of life, with some even regarding it as a universal principle. In fact, myriad religions utter some form of the Golden Rule in their efforts to guide their believers. The one with which many are most familiar emerges from the Christian interpretation—Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s a principle that unquestionably offers a pathway to peace.

And if all of us pursued a life where the Golden Rule were a guiding principle, would there be any reason for our interactions to erupt into conflict. Would not an adherence to the Golden Rule dampen and extinguish these clashes?

Yes, it would be a wonderful idea. But maybe it’s not so simple.

Is the Golden Rule Always Appropriate?

One of the many challenges of the Golden Rule may be the fact that not everyone would agree about the action in question. For instance, someone may make a romantic gesture towards someone. The individual making the gesture would say this is fine, as they would welcome the same being done to them. Yet, the individual in receipt may not share their sentiments and actually be taken aback. So, in this case, doing unto others is not the best approach?

However, in this instance, we need to simply ask ourselves if we need to alter how we apply the Golden Rule. Perhaps it’s just a matter of rewording the question—Would I want to have romantic sentiments overtly imposed on me? Our answer may very well be no, in fact we wouldn’t. Thus the Golden Rule would stand true.

Another complication may occur if someone is convicted of a crime and sentenced to a period of time behind bars. When imposing the Golden Rule, we might say, we would not want to spend time in prison and thus, we cannot do this unto another.

Yet again, what if we simply alter the question? If I would be willing to pay for a crime I committed, then actually, I would accept this being done to another. Again, the Golden Rule will hold true and still applies.

We just have to take care regarding the question we ask ourselves. For instance, in the one, it wasn’t a matter of wanting to be behind bars or not wanting to be behind bars. The real underlying issue was about accepting punishment for something we’ve done.

Golden Rule and World Peace?

Now, we can question whether all of this could apply in terms of world peace. Well, in my opinion, world peace is certainly possible. But at the same time, it’s still highly unlikely. Certainly, at the scale of nations, there would seem to be too many conflicting interests and agendas guiding people.

Sometimes, application of the Golden Rule requires a bit of tinkering to truly understand the issue at hand. What exactly am I okay to have done unto me that I feel someone else should also have no problem experiencing. In any respect, one can easily see how this is far more possible to work out face to face than amongst nations. The application of the Golden Rule isn’t always straightforward.

But then, maybe we‘re thinking of finding a solution at entirely the wrong scale. If there ever will be world peace, maybe it’d best begin with you and me. Which is to say that perhaps the idea of world peace requires we change our perspective. Instead of thinking at the scale of nations, we must turn our attention on ourselves first.

Perhaps, as is often the case, the challenge is to ensure that you and I find peace in our families, circles of friends and communities. It is much simpler to work out the finer nuances of the Golden Rule when dealing with fewer people and also when we’re able to do so face to face.

Image Source: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

Ultimately, we seem to have little control over what nations are doing. But we do have control over ourselves. We can start with ourselves and maybe it’s possible that peace will be able to touch the nations at large. We may be surprised how great an impact you and I do have on the world. Everything beautiful and magnificent always begins and prospers in the small and quiet corners of the world.


Goodman, Paul 2023 “The 8 Main Reasons for War” Owlcation

New World Encyclopedia 2023 “Golden Rule”

Shatz, Itamar 2023 “The Golden Rule: Treat Others the Way You Want to Be Treated” Effectiviology