Saturday, July 28, 2012

Impurities (Part 4)

So... what to do when Atlantis is overwhelmed by the flood, the waves of migrating water? Well, I am reminded of the great A E Housman's Epitaph for an Army of Mercenaries:
These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling,
And took their wages, and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

You see, quite often the ones who need defending are not the ones doing the defending. The ones who are living in a land of good roads and schools and many trees, they are the ones who wish it could all be so much better. And when others make it better by doing the jobs that you would prefer to pay others to do, they are 'mercenaries'.

But some mercenaries settle down in the land to which they were contracted. They fall in love. They go native. They form a special bond to the country which may be stronger than that of those born there.

Impurities, the cry goes up. Impure! Impure!

But who is pure in a world of shifting populations and allegiances? All of us are immigrants or emigrants. Some of us hide it well, or have it hidden for us well in the snarls of time and culture.

To remove the 'impurities' from the land might be the same thing as removing the carbon from the steel, or the nails from the timber. Just a few small 'impurities' taken out... and suddenly, nothing is saved.

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