...And Tomorrow Never Came
Every now and again, the insignificance of our strivings washes over me like a cold shadow. It can happen in a museum looking at fossils. It can be reading Richard Fidler’s “Ghost Empire” with its endless litany of invasion suffered by Constantinople. It can be listening to “Les Miserables”.
I’m always moved by the anguish in the song, “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”. The lyrics are haunting as they describe the feeling of loss at the death of friends in a futile fight.
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken.
There’s a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables,
Now my friends are dead and gone.
Here they talked of revolution,
Here it was they lit the flame,
Here they sang about tomorrow,
And, tomorrow never came …
Tomorrow never comes to the innocents that get blown up by suicide bombers, the victims of chemical warfare or the children shot in a school. The harvest of hate is never wholesome, but we don’t seem to learn, and sow the seeds of acrimony again.
I want to stroll up to the hate-filled and hurt and say I’m sorry the world has made them so. I want to soothe the radicals and allow the heated barrels of war to cool by taking them on a journey.
First, we would travel to the kitchens of our enemies. There, amid the intimacy of a home, we would dine on different foods and laugh with different children. Then, we would journey to the great libraries of the world to be made humble by that we don’t know. Thereafter, we would talk to the women who have lost their family to a man’s cause.
Our pilgrimage would then take us to those with a foot either side of the grave in order to find out what is important to those facing death. Then, we would travel to space to play with the planets. There, we would learn that of the billions of trillion yellow stars, only one is blessed with the blue bloom of life.
We would then journey back and ask any who wish to change the world, to check that they know what they are doing. Our planet is a miracle, our life on it limited and our capacity to ruin it great.
We have borrowed the future from our children. How shall we return it? Will we wrap it in toxic clouds and mushroomed skies? Will the planet reflect the dull indifference of neglect so that it no longer shines with the polish of loving attention? Will the accompanying card be anything other than an angry scrawl of self-justification?
If Earth’s history was encompassed by outstretched arms, a snip of the nail clippers would remove the period of human existence. Let us make the most of our 650,000 hours and ensure that, like 99.9 percent of world species that no longer exist, we do not become the fossil of an animal whose ferocity is to be wondered at, and whose extinction was inevitable.