The more I read about the history of man, the clearer it becomes that we all, without exception, once came from somewhere else. That’s quite a thought, and a deceptively simple truth, really. So why are prosperous countries in Southeast Asia turning away thousands of Rohingya refugees from their shores? Why are the prosperous countries of Europe turning away the boatloads of refugees from North Africa? Is it because we in these countries have become too rich to share? The New Testament story of the widow’s mite is well known. Have middle class people in middle class countries become too rich to care?
During the 1971 Bangladesh war, when ten million refugees streamed over the border into India, I heard a story about the beggars of Calcutta. This resembles the ‘widow’s mite’ story of Jesus in the New Testament. In 1971, seeing the desperate plight of the Bangladesh refugees, the beggars of Calcutta sent a delegation to the municipal corporation requesting that their weekly free meal be redirected to the poor people in the refugee camps instead.
Is this story true? I can find no documentation of this tale, but my own experience of the kindness of strangers in poorer parts of the world convinces me that it is. For armchair travellers, here is a link to milestones from the “Out of Eden” walk, an attempt to relive mankind’s journey through the ages.
No, this is not a short story. I met two old friends yesterday, to the left of the path to the Power Station Beach on Lamma, both of whom I hadn’t met in years. The first was a Greater Coucal (centropus sinensis), also known as the crow pheasant. Its haunting call is heard everywhere on this island, so there must be scores of them here if not hundreds, but this is the first time in two years that I’ve seen one. Here’s a link to a YouTube video that someone posted from Thailand.
The second was a bittern, whose European cousin I used to frequently meet among the reeds at the edge of a pond on the outskirts of Vienna, usually in late autumn. Here’s a mobile camera photo of the bittern that may be distinguishable if you can enlarge it on your screen.
Bitterns, and thousands of other species, are being endangered by habitat loss, so it looks like rethinking ‘development’ may be an idea whose time has finally come.
Hundreds of these large orange blossoms strewn on the path to the beach from a tree overhead. The nameless profligacy of Nature’s bounty. Surely the earth has enough for all if we use its resources wisely.
My apologies for the long delay in posting, but I am privileged to be truly living in a state of grace. More on that in the next blog!