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Reflections by: Olivia Robertson

Isian News Issue 130
Olivia Robertson
photo © 2009 M.Q.

Click on the blue speaker to hear Olivia read this article:
(mp3 / 6:49 min / 1.6 mb) Listen to this article

"ROLL-OVER"

My sister-in-law, Pamela, had a dachshund called Carpet, whom she trained to do “roll-overs” when she commanded “Die for Germany!” She felt that this was correct, as he was German. Actually Dachshunds are French. However, the general ideal of the Twentieth Century was to die for something. During the Piscean Age, the outgoing arrow of Mars, of heroes, had become the Sacred Heart of Venus, the arrow turning inwards, piercing the red heart from which blood flowed, into a chalice.

I remember having a fierce argument with a Hindu friend who, when I objected to the God Rama putting his wife on a fire twice – to test her virtue – (she survived) – said that the great glory of Woman was self-sacrifice. I noted this was to give power to men – husbands and sons. We in the West were taught to honour the Chaste Roman Lucrece, who, on having been raped, first told her husband that he might avenge his honour ((his honour), then conveniently stabbed herself, thus saving her husband from the disgrace of having a raped wife.

Men did not escape this Roll-Over indoctrination. I remember an Irish girl saying to me during the Second World War: “I don’t care what army a man is in as long as he’s fighting.” As for me, like millions of women, I was overwhelmed with admiration for women Maquis – who endured torture and death for France. The test of course was on the correctness of your choice of ideals. Or was it? The over-riding passion of the last century was to live and die for some ideal, whatever it was! No wonder our planet is in such danger from genocidal weapons.

There is a gender difference in our behaviour regarding Roll-Over. It used to be a primary requirement for women in their relationship to fathers, husbands and sons. I used to wonder why women did not bring cases of cruelty and abuse to court. Then I realised that for thousands of years women were subject to the care of large families, when men had superior strength – and control also of the family income. Roll-over – obedience – was a case of survival for oneself and one’s helpless children.

Now the situation is changing. A woman can use a gun. We have legal protection in many countries. All over the world women, gay men and women, and persecuted racial minorities defend themselves.

Ah, but how and when? On a personal level, do we dare report cases of cruelty to animals – to children – to immigrant workers? Do we fear our neighbours? In a greater scale, when do we go to war, to protect persecuted minorities – in order to hand them Democracy?

My father, architect and town-planner, created a character called ‘Seleeno’, and wrote a book with my illustrations. It is still in manuscript somewhere around. I now turn back to his idea for guidance! Why? Because ‘Seleeno’, connected to the moon, had a splendid solution for this problem - To Act or not to Act?

He advocated the Path of Inconsistency. He declared that humans wavered like a drunkard from one side of life (or road) from left to right. On the left the drunkard would flounder into a ditch. On the Right he would fall over a cliff! The solution was to change from one side to another according to mood and the weather. Waking up in the morning the happy traveller would allow whim rather than schedule to create his (or her) day.

Practitioners of the Way of Inconsistency would bewilder their opponents – as Mahatma Ghandi did, who received Divine Guidance every morning. His political opponents could never guess what he was going to do… Nor did he, until the day itself. What a creative way to live!

I remember a painful choice I had to make when attending a funeral for a citizen of Clonegal. The Wake was the usual solemn affair, with mourning relatives, the corpse reverently on view, shrouded, with candles and Holy Pictures. I was ushered in to sit in a circle round the body, to pay silent respect, and to leave after a proper interval for refreshments.

Oh ghastly happening! As I gazed at the corpse with his closed eyes and folded hands – I DISTINCTLY SAW HIM MOVE! What was I to do? Could I let him be buried alive? I recalled horrific accounts of corpses being dug up – revealed as pushing with skeleton arms against coffin lids.

Yes, I did the right thing. A friend drove me three miles to Bunclody, where resided the “deceased’s” Doctor. He listened to my account, and at once drove with me to the village. He explained his presence to the relatives: “Miss Olivia has seen the body move.”

His examination took place before all, and lasted a very short while. THE BODY WAS MOST CERTAINLY DEAD. What Miss Olivia had seen was a muscular contraction that can occur after death. Miss Olivia slunk away, without refreshments.

Ah – Reader – What would you have done?


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