I like Thought for the Day (TFTD) on Radio 4’s Today programme. It’s an odd ‘British’ kind of thing, where a select few folk from a select few faith communities waffle for five minutes about something or nothing in particular; usually with a religious twist depending on their personal spiritual allegiance. I’d be very happy if the BBC started asking a few Druid folk to give their own perspectives – hey, I’d even offer a thought or three myself – but like Interfaith it’s an inclusive melange of only a few ingredients.
This post was brought about by Canon Angela Tilby‘s piece on Tuesday 19th February 2013 (not sure when/if this will be published), and is mostly not about Druidry. Speaking about London Fashion Week (apparently we are ‘big’ in fashion and now stand beside Paris, Milan and New York), she celebrated an ‘evolution’ from the Industrial Revolution into a new landscape where brain power, imagination and design held supreme sway. Hang on…?
The next few minutes of the fashion themed spiel went right out of the (car) window, as I mused on the words I’d just listened to. The Industrial Revolution, that immense groundswell of invention, the thinking of new ideas and new concepts, that changed the entire word, and begun largely in Britain… that pales next to some ideas for a new frilly shirt and lower hems? I was gobsmacked. Ignoring for the moment the idea that someone who wears black on a daily basis can pontificate (hmm, pontificate, what an interesting word) about fashion at all ignores the fact that the fabric – black, white or rainbow coloured, was almost certainly woven on looms invented and finessed during the Industrial Revolution!
I wondered how informed Canon Tilby was, that she would so discount the very times that made it possible to have a London Fashion Week. And then my mind wandered and I gave some thought to other specialised folk, like politicians. Mostly coming from the public school and lawyer tradition (and I tar both main parties with that brush), it’s potentially as insular an upbringing for running the country as is religion. How likely is it therefore that they would make a good fist of it? Having had almost no experience of the lives that the majority of the populace experience, how can they have empathy for them?
Of course I’d make a great politician. Not. But wouldn’t it be great if instead of having party politics, with two short-sighted teams sitting across from one another (two sword lengths apart for goodness sake), in a totally confrontational set-piece of theatre, we had a meritocracy of all disciplines, meeting in a circle (no, honest, nothing Druid here) and as individuals rather than as party sponsored mouthpieces of the mother party. Doctors, engineers, economists, teachers, priests (of all faiths not just one), sales staff, single parents, rocket scientists, ecologists, even lawyers and bankers as long as they mostly shut up and listened.
Canon Tilby went on (when I’d stopped drifting along with Ned Ludd and the Spinning Jenny) to say that (her) god loves variety over uniformity and, unaccountably thinking of a couple of Druids who’ve recently pondered on religious retreat and withdrawal from mainstream society, I thought about just how many Druid folk there were out there, driving their individual Druid paths through the world, all different and yet all happily holding onto the power-word ‘Druid’. Teachers, Priests, Philosophers, Eco-Warriors, quiet folk who pick up litter, Celebrants and folk you’d walk past in the street never imagining what they’re imagining…
Would a retreat from the everyday be a worthwhile use of the brief life we have? It would give us precious time, no doubt, do work upon ideas and concepts that are hard to do on the morning school run, or with the radio on listening to Thought for the Day, or even quietly at work. But pagans and Druids revere the world that is, and the world that was, and the worlds that might be, and it’s hard to do that by limiting experience. And in a community of me, talking to me about me… well we’re back to the Houses of Parliament again, aren’t we?
Diversity. Interaction. Understanding. Wow, what a rambling waffle. See? I’d be great on TFTD!