Old is Gold

Getting back to one’s cultural and personal roots. Relearning the healthy, hopeful concept of human diversity (in culture, language, appearance, experience). Rediscovering the essence of living as a true human being: hoping and sharing hope.

Never before done in the history of the world, right?

Mommy and Daddy, what is history? Isn’t it that boring stuff that isn’t relevant but we still have to get tested on it in school?

History (my definition) is the story of people, where they come from, what they have done and failed to do, what they love and hate, and why and how all their daily struggles have shaped the common life of human beings from before we ever existed until now.

History is written because, in most cultures, what human beings don’t write down now gets forgotten later. And what is forgotten robs human beings of a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, a sense of value, a sense that human beings can deal with adversity, overcome challenges, and not only grimly survive, but joyfully thrive.

One source of historical encouragement, warning, and hope is a novel written in the early days of the twentieth century and the closing days of a political endeavor called the British Raj. It is the novel Kim, by early 20th-century British novelist Rudyard Kipling. The book follows the adventures of Kim O’Hara, the orphaned child of an Irish soldier and a nursemaid.

Kim fully, tenderly, humorously, and joyously describes the beauty of a land of varied geographies, lively cultures, and ancient customs. It brings to life the way human beings of all types of education and experience and employment find ways to love each other and cheat each other. It laments the passing of a way of life respectful of the natural world and agonizes over what heart comforts are destroyed in a culture when the benefits of modern medicine, transportation, and political alliances change the look and feel of home.

In various editions and in movie adaptations, Kim is Rudyard Kipling’s ode to the human spirit, to the value of tradition, the purpose of struggle, and the dignity of hard work.

It is his reluctant acknowledgement that neither the calm wisdom of the past nor the lively discoveries of the present can full and securely ground humankind in a sense of hope for the future.

It is funny, it is sad, it is ribald, it is bitter. It is a reminder that being human is hard, and human experience is as exhausting as it is thrilling, but mostly, it is a reminder that being fully, deeply, compassionately human is the only way for human beings to get up every morning and go to sleep every night.

If you haven’t read Kim in a long time, read it again. Or listen to the audiobook. Or watch the movie. And rejoice it its wonders.

If you have never read Kim, or heard or seen it, do it now and fall in love with being human in a new way.

Published by willowgirl

Lover of beef stew, cats, old movies, C. S. Lewis, and men who know how to wear kilts.

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