Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Picture this. You and your family all live in a small and very cramped one room home. There are spaces where there should be windows, but they are boarded-up and no light ever come through them.
Although you share the home with other members of your family, you find it really hard to see them, as the only illumination comes from a small, 5 watt bulb suspended from the middle of the room. So the room is very dimly lit and you can only ever catch glimpses of the other members of your family when they walk directly beneath the .light bulb.
Every-so-often water starts to drip down on to you and your family. This, you are told, is special water sent from God to bless you. Funny. But to you it feels cold and unpleasant. And not much of a blessing at all.
At regular intervals your family is visited by a pair of men who come to check on you and your family to ensure that all is well. They wear strange, thick clothing and have goggles on their faces to protect them from the evil that is outside of your hut.
They knock on the door with a special knock and are quickly hustled in, lest the evil influence of outside contaminate the home.
But still, you sometimes wonder what outside actually is and how evil it might really be. One evening, someone is a little slower than normal in closing the door and you catch a glimpse of outside. All you were able to see was that it looked really interesting. So, you decide to leave the safety of your family home to find out what outside was like.
When the others are praying with the visitors, you sneak out through the door, closing it behind you. You gaze around you. All you can do is say: Wow!” You see the remains of the setting sun in the West, watch the first stars coming out, twinkling in the gathering night.
You wander away, looking at everything. It all looks so beautiful. Presently, overcome by exhaustion, you fall asleep under a hedge.
The next morning you are awoken by the singing of many different types of birds. And you see the sun rise. You look around you, shielding your eyes. You are unaccustomed to such brightness, but your eyes gradually adjust.
You retrace your footsteps as best you can. Eventually you find your home. What a terrible shock. Your home, of which your parents are so proud, is, you see, nothing but a small and cramped shack. But worse than that.
It is quite clear that it is built out of a variety of strange materials, all from different sources. Old packing crates, randomly sized bits of wood, all held together with bent nails, bits of old string. From where you stand you can see the flat roof of the hovel that you have called home all your life. There were so many holes in it that there was no wonder water fell on you and your family.
As you walk towards your home, you see a pair of the visitors staggering down the street, in their thick clothing, clutching each other. You wonder if one of them is ill. But then you notice that they are both wearing goggles that are totally painted over with black paint. They are clutching each other because they can barely see where they are going.
Somehow they make it to a neighbouring hovel that is similar to the one you call home. There are, you notice, a small number of these hovels all gathered together in a piece of rough land bounded by a tumbledown fence. There is a rickety slam as they are hustled into the hovel.
All around them there is fantastic beauty. Trees, vales, open pastures, farmland, gorgeous hills, valleys, majestic mountains. Everything. As your gaze shifts toward your home, the hovel, you start to weep. How could you and your family have lived in such a horrible home, whilst all around was not great evil and horrors but a truly beautiful world?
You resolve to tell your family the truth. You run to your door and open it. The action of your family surprises you. Shocks you, even. As the light of the day falls on them, they scream in terror. They push you out, shouting that you had been tainted by the evils of the world. They slam the door behind you, and you see the whole, pitiful shack shake and vibrate with the force.
You spend hours and hours hammering on the door, shouting for your family to join you in the light. But they do not even deign to give you a direct response. Instead they sing hymns to drown out the sound of your voice.
Eventually, you realise that you will never reach your family. So you turn to leave, noticing that it is already coming upon the evening time, again.
As you stand outside the hovel, wondering what to do next, several people approach you. They identify themselves as fellow former dwellers in the hovels with their own families. Some had their entire family with them, others one or two family members but most were like you, with only themselves having been able to escape their family’s hovel.
They invite you to join them. So you do, wandering off to see what great adventures might exist outside of the hovel that your family called home. Picture this.