Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Things that have been puzzling me

I’ve been thinking a lot about the migrants crammed into boats on the Mediterranean, suffering, desperate, and shunned by the UK. And then at the weekend I read that more than 700 migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar had been rescued from a sinking boat off Indonesia's coast. They were fleeing religious persecution and poverty.

The conditions on these ships in the far east approach the squalor and brutality of slave ships 200 years ago. The reports are shocking. How can it be that here I am safe, secure, well fed, with time to spend as I like, and at this very moment, hundreds of people are crammed onto ships desperate to escape their lives, and they are left stranded, starving, in the middle of the Andaman Sea?

And what can I do about it?

And here is another thing that puzzles me. Last night we watched Shadowlands, about C.S.Lewis and Joy Gresham. As I see it, there are two strands to the film – the love story and the religious and philosophical theme. To put the latter into a very banal nutshell, Lewis preaches that suffering and pain are lessons given to us by God to make us perfect. Then his wife dies of cancer and he is challenged by his own ideas. In the film there is a scene where Joy and Lewis are happy on holiday and she wants to talk to him about her impending death. She says “The pain then is part of the happiness now.”

I really don’t know what this means. Do you?

The double rainbow I saw out of the bedroom window this morning may or may not be relevant.



barbara conn said...

Have you read Jack Gilbert's poem 'A Brief for the Sefence', Sue. It addresses exactly the paradox you describe here. I find it very comforting when guiltily comparing my own fortune with the suffering of others. Love the rainbow! Barbara

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you for reminding me of this poem, Barbara. It is a comfort, and I posted an extract on my blog last year! July 9 2014. This is obviously a recurrent problem for me.

Jessie said...

Maybe it means that, because she knows she's going to die, the present seems more special and meaningful than before? X

Sue Hepworth said...

Thanks, Jessie. That's helpful. I struggle with this sort of thing.

Kristine said...

I think she means that the pain you experience at a person's death is largely because of the great happiness you experienced with them while they were alive.
Or, "Grief is the price we pay for love" - I think Queen Elizabeth said this when Diana died.

Sue Hepworth said...

Hi Kristine, I agree that grief is the price we pay for love...but I don't think that's what she meant at this point. I think she was talking about the joy side of it at this point in the film, the living side of it, so I think that I agree with Jessie's interpretation.

Kristine said...

Yes I can see Jessie's idea as well.
There is a great discussion of this quote if you google
"5 Inspiring Quotes from CS Lewis Biopic by Richard Attenborough".
You may find this helpful as well.
In this discussion,
"She explains that the happiness of previous years isn't memorable unless there is pain now. Pain makes you reflect and understand the life you lived before."

Sue Hepworth said...

Thanks, Kristine. I will look this up. Your last quoted sentence makes sense, but I am not sure I agree with it, do you?