Tuesday, August 30, 2011

There is an old Chinese saying that goes, ‘I complained because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.’ What brought it to mind was reading about nature’s mistakes and, let’s face it, nature can make some pretty bad mistakes. William Blake’s poem is brought to mind, ‘Tiger, tiger, burning bright, in the forests of the night, what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?’ The question to ask is how or why does this ‘immortal eye’ make so many truly dreadful mistakes? One thinks also of that awful soppy Victorian hymn, ‘All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.’ The final verse of which goes, ‘He gave us eyes to see them, and lips that we might tell, how great is God Almighty, who has made all things well.’ Note that – God Almighty who made all things well – all things?

Right, having digressed somewhat, back to what started off this train of thought: bodies that are born with parts missing. Oscar Pistorius, the young South African athlete was born without shin bones and had to have his legs below the knee amputated at an early age. But that has not stopped him from engaging in sport, in particular, running, which he does wearing what are called his ‘Cheetah Blades’ over which argument still rages as to whether or not they give his normal limbed opponents an advantage. Whether they do or whether they don’t what an inspiring story this is so stop honking like a gaggle of geese, and where was God Almighty when this unwell child was born? Another case that I have just read about: a young lad in the UK who was born with no arms below the elbow who is evidently quite a lethal bowler at cricket. He can evidently tuck the ball away where the forearm should begin and send it hurtling down the wicket. This is another inspiring story and surely once again one must ask where was this all merciful all powerful God who makes all things well? God I’m afraid, has absolutely nothing to do with it. It’s all down to nature and nature’s mistakes except where men interfere as with the thalidomide tragedy, and think how brave so many of those victims were.

Now Pistorius, when he’s not wearing his cheetah blades in competition can wear ordinary prosthetics but my mind can’t help imaging what life must be like without hands. Does the boy, like foot and mouth artists, use his feet for certain procedures? How does he eat? Just as he can bowl at cricket but obviously can’t bat, he can’t manage knife, fork, and spoon so does he go down to his plate? How does he dress? How does he undress? And on a more intimate note, how does he unzip to have a pee and how does he control the direction? On an even more intimate note – how does he shit and just how does he wipe his arse? All things we able-bodied take for granted.

Nature really has thrown up some whoppers: Siamese twins for example that cannot be separated, small but damaging disfigurements such as a decided squint, a hare lip or cleft palate, or too may fingers and too many toes, a crooked back; and think of Joseph Merrick, the elephant man, in whose time anyone unfortunate not to have been well made by Almighty God had to suffer most cruelly in the freak show for the entertainment of the so-called normal.

I am sure those who are of a religious bent and believe firmly in God, the all-merciful as far as Islam is concerned, will find reasons or excuses for these phenomena but, if I were to believe he exists, I would consider him to be a cruel, vindictive sadist.

I complained because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.

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