I vote we teach them all to knit.

Warning: this isn’t about knitting. Or weaving. At least not directly.

I spent lunchtime sitting outside – it’s just warm enough – eating pecorino and tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, reading, ripping out an error in my pink socks and intermittently casting loving glances at my own tomatoes and the french beans, which might yet have more beans if I cherish them diligently. A slightly-better-than ordinary lunch, by my standards, but a far, far better lunch than a large proportion of the world’s population enjoys. Especially those whose lives have been torn to shreds by wars inspired by others with political axes to sharpen and temper in blood. It’s happening across the globe.

I now know more about the situation in Israel, Palestine and Lebanon, thanks to From Beirut to Jerusalem and Covering Islam, my ‘holiday reading’. The antics of Bush and Blair (With apologies to anyone who actually respects those rather dangerous clowns. You’re entitled to your opinions and I to mine.) are usually well covered in the media, and their primary motive – to retain power – is clear. And it occurred to me that the people who start these wars by covertly shifting money and arms while trumpeting their ethical and moral principles, who claim their scraps of mouldering parchment or ancient wrongs are worth more or hurt more than those of any other — they’ve forgotten, if they ever knew, just how precious our lives are. We have so little time, and there’s so much that we can do and see without hurting anyone. So many things that we can make and be remembered for instead of spending money and lives to gain and retain power for its own sake. Perhaps they’ve never found anything they want to do with their lives, other than pursue power. So. Let’s teach them to knit.

Let’s show them how an idea can grow to beauty in their own hands, requiring nothing but their own time and care. Let them learn from experience that skill increases over time, that the old men and women whose lives are cut short by bombs or starvation were more than ‘collateral damage’, they were human beings shaped by life and love, full of skills that will never now be passed to others. Let them realise what has been lost to the world with the lives of the children killed or maimed, mentally or physically, by childhoods spent in war zones. Take them to yarn shops, show them the tangible, fragile and lovely fruits of other people’s labours, the farmers, the spinners, the dyers, those who invented the machinery and chemicals to bring such wonders within reach of our hands. If they don’t want to knit, show them pencils, paints, paper, canvas. Give them hammers and chisels, wood and stone to make their ideas concrete, to stand alone in the world to be compared and evaluated against the world itself. Let them learn winemaking, brewing, the art of cooking. Perhaps they love music — show them how to make it, alone or in harmony with others.

But never, ever give them power.

Sorry about this, but sometimes… well. I have to say it, but you don’t have to read it.
Normal programming will resume shortly.


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