It’s November 5 and it’s Guy Fawkes night.
Who, in the Anglo-settled world isn’t familiar with the story of the Gunpowder plot? After 410 years celebrating his failure to blow up Parliament he has gained a remarkable immortality.
He is almost a walking advert for failure, some may say.
And although I have numerous decades of living through GF nights, I learned something completely new about him today.
Guido? I mean, really? It’s a bit cliché don’t you think – “I need an Italian name as an alias, what should I choose? I know – Guido’d be perfect!”
Anyway, as I type I can hear all the locals beginning to let off their fireworks. (Yes, private folks can still do this here.) It’s not even dark yet. It’s the curse of “celebrating” an event that happened in the last month of autumn in the northern hemisphere which unsurprisingly doesn’t quite work the same in the last month of spring down under.
Interestingly Guido and his attempts to blow up the Protestant King James I brings me to a quote by Marcus Aurelius. (He really does have one for every occasion you know.)
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
As I’ve become older I’ve also become more conscious of this as being the reality of the world. I’ve known it since having it pointed out to me as a newbie starting out at university and it has only grown on me ever since. It’s grown on me so much I’d even go so far as to say it’s become one of the key tenets of my personal worldview.
Once upon a time I saw things in a much more black and white way – some folk were ‘the good guys’ and others ‘the bad’. I rather blame the storytelling traditions for a lot of that dichotomy of thinking, as well as the rubbish modern media that has an ax to grind and often doesn’t acknowledge the world view behind it. It’s rather left to us to figure that out, and sadly I’ve noticed that not all folk are able to.
Don’t get me wrong. I still have opinions, strong views and positions on different things. I just don’t see mine as the only truth. My view is just that – mine and a view. It’s nice when a few more people share it, but it doesn’t make it particularly more valid than my neighbour’s. The problems arise when you find people so rigid that their world view is constricted to the point that they cannot conceive of it as anything BUT the truth. I rather suspect that’s when you meet your Guido Fawkes’ of this world. The ‘facts’ and ‘truth’ of their lives take them over and they become crusaders, which in a non-violent person could mean your Gandhi side coming out. But if inclined to think that forcing your truth by violence is acceptable, then “Hello Guido!”
Well, if we ever needed any excuse to let off some whizzy, bangy, colourful things, let it be in celebration of foiling a person whose world view took the rigid & violent route, eh?
And can we all please remember – just because we think it, and it comes out of our mouths, doesn’t make it a ‘fact’ or the ‘truth’?
Oscar Wilde hit the nail on the head:
The truth is rarely pure and never simple.