quaker fencer

kathz isn't quite my name. I may be a Quaker. If I'm a fencer I'm a bad one and I don't do sabre. If I'm a Quaker I'm a bad one - but you've worked that out already. Read on. Comment if you like. Don't expect a reply.

Location: United Kingdom

Saturday, April 01, 2006

catching up on sleep

I wonder how many blogs are a product of insomnia.

I've finally had a good night's sleep and the difference is wonderful. Mind you, when I turned on the radio and heard the Jack Straw/Condoleezza Rice double act, I did wonder whether I'd woken up in a parallel universe - they spoke so very convincingly about how the war in Iraq was a remarkable success and extraordinary rendition couldn't possibly happen that I might almost have believed them, if it hadn't been for the weight of evidence.

Sleepless nights, pain from fencing injuries, anxieties about friends and family - these set me thinking about the cruelties we're urged to accept as necessary to protect our way of life. But a way of life that is dependent on murder, torture, hatred, etc. isn't worth protecting because it's already corrupt.

On the march last month there was a conservative with a home-made banner with conservative anti-war slogans - quite remarkable. (He was marching with his daughter who is a member of Respect.) One of the slogans was, I think, "Liberty before Security". I'm fully in agreement with that.

The government here encourages cowardice as though it were a civic virtue. But much that I believe in involves risks and danger. Listening to other people and - as Quakers say - finding that of God in them - isn't easy or safe and won't always protect us. (I'm still thinking of the life and death of Tom Fox.) Nonetheless, recognizing shared humanity is a starting point for progress and for anything I see as a civilized life.

If I look for that of God in others, I have to acknowledge that I do not have exclusive access to the truth. I have to think about what others say and allow them to challenge my preconceptions. And it's through such challenges that minds, people and societies change.

If I see a common humanity (or that of God) in others, I cannot condone actions that deliberately inflict pain on them, or cause anxiety to them or their families. State-sanctioned cruelty and torture are unbearable. The infliction of pain by one individual on another is wrong ...

... except, of course, when it's consensual. As in fencing.

More epee next week.


Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

What about continueing something that inflicts pain on yourself...like fencing? Is that consentual?

8:57 pm  
Blogger B.V. Brus said...

(much chortling)

9:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sometimes wake in the early morning and my thoughts go like this:

I am awake.
Crap! Don't think of anything!
Try mediation or relaxation techniques!!!
Crap!!!! To late...I thought about fencing.
Damn it to hell!!!!

Jim the Gray Epee

9:36 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

Yes - fencing is consensual. This doesn't mean I set out to be hit. Oh no. I do try to parry my opponent's epee but I know in advance that I'm unlikely to be successful. And if I am I'm likely to be so surprised that I can't focus on my fencing for the next couple of points. I'm the only beginner at epee and improving very, very slowly - so much for the d'Artagnan fantasy. (That's the version in which d'Artagnan reveals himself as a middle-aged woman, by the way, to the astonishment of the Porthos, Athos and Aramis, who had always known there was something different about him but hadn't worked out what it was.)

Do other fencing clubs have women who compare their bruises? Perhaps it's just something we do in Nottingham - it certainly distinguishes us from the badminton players in the other half of the hall. (We've yet to challenge them, but the day will come.)

And thinking about fencing in the morning is much better than thinking about work.

By the way, I'm going to Parc Asterix in Paris in a couple of weeks, if all goes well, and hope to see their Three Musketeers street theatre again - not to be missed if you're ever there.

9:52 pm  
Blogger Cath said...

Hi, thanks for your comments on my blog, I was really interested in what you had to say and very excited that someone had actually read it! I've had a read of yours and thought it was cool; its worth trying yoga to help with the insomnia! xx Cath

9:18 pm  

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