“your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
your young men shall see visions” – Joel (2:28)
There’s nowt new under the sun is there?
This Old Testament prophecy distils the wisdom of an ancient people.
It looks forward to a day at the end of the world when momentous things will happen.
When you read on through the passage it’s hard not to be reminded of recent events, “upon the earth, blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke”.
The juxtaposition of prophesy, dreams and visions with the apocalypse is a bit disturbing to say the least but the language of the book of Joel is pretty colourful. Joel must have been an interesting person to be possessed of such a vision and it’s hard to think yourself into his mind. The society in which he lived was outwardly very different to our own so his intended meaning may now be obscured. What’s really interesting for me, though, is the resonance of the language – like poetry which brings feelings to many different souls. Joel’s evocation of the differences between youth and age are interesting too. Psychology tells us that each individual experiences reality differently; Philosophy that truth is relative. Joel’s observation that older people see the world differently from the young holds good. We all see it differently from each other.
Young people are a universal symbol of hope. Few can be unmoved when looking into the eyes of a child. We see in our youth the hope of a better tomorrow. When we hear of abused, injured or murdered children it touches something within each of us – truly adult minds understand the tragedy of this. We know what it is to be a child, full of hope and we appreciate how awful it is when hope is destroyed. I’m interested in Joel’s distinction between young men and old men. I would have put it the other way round but maybe the translator in distinguishing ‘visions’ and ‘dreams’ chose the best english words available. As someone who is somewhere between these two states I wonder if I am more dreamy or visionary? Until fairly recently I was growing more and more pessimistic – I think they call it a midlife crisis.
Yesterday I expanded on my view that we are an adversarial society and that we should try to move beyond this. Thanks to birdman this lead to an interesting discussion and I’ve thought a lot about the points he made. Maybe being a chaffinch he is pretty focussed on life’s essentials but he does seem to escape from survival mode from time to time and indulge in the odd bit of hedonism. It was interesting that my notion of a less confrontation driven world seemed a ‘miracle too far’ and I agree that the world is unlikely to change at a defined point – it always seems to be a lead-up, crisis and resolution sequence. ‘Wham, bam, thank you George’. Most days I find myself at odds with other people in some, often small, way and I have a choice about how I respond. I have found, to my cost, that confrontation, whilst often effective at securing quick reaction causes tension and ultimately resentment. It perpetuates the aggression/action cycle. As a man brought up to ‘be a man’ it is almost second nature to me to confront. It’s very hard for me not to do it in all sorts of ways. As a young man my vision was to change the world in some way. As I get older maybe my dream is that I will realise that I have and can continue to do that by reducing the confrontation and cycle of aggression. With any luck there will be some fun along the way too.
I’m going to keep on hoping and dreaming.
Meanwhile I have to decide on who to vote for tomorrow…
…talking of which – this just in:
“A bus load of politicians were driving down a country road, when the bus ran off the road and crashed into a tree in an old farmer’s field. The old farmer, after seeing what happened, went over to investigate. A few days later, the police went to look for the missing politicians, saw the crashed bus, and asked the farmer where they had all gone. “I buried them all out back.” said the farmer, “Were they ALL dead?” asked the police. The farmer replied, “Well, some of them said they weren’t, but you know how politicians lie.”