on being polite

Cosmopolite, that is:

a person who is cosmopolitan in his or her ideas, life, etc.; citizen of the world.

 ‘In infinite play, one chooses to be mortal inasmuch as one always plays dramatically, that is toward the open, toward surprise, where nothing can be scripted.’*

I followed the reporting of this year’s GCSE and A level results for across Britain whilst also following the news from EducAid, of Sierra Leonean students icaught in the horror of recent floods and landslides.  Miriam Baker-Sesay, heads up the charity Educaid and reported a few days ago:

‘We are slowly gaining a clearer picture of who has been affected and to what extent, and we also know more clearly what we don’t know yet.  There is quite a significant number of children who have lost absolutely everything including family members and their homes. At the moment there are three EducAid children believed dead as they were in an area that is highly-affected and have not been seen since that day.  Many addresses simply don’t exist anymore, so information about these children is still unclear.  There is still a small number of children that we have been unable to trace and we know their addresses are in the ‘red zone’ so we remain fearful.  Had people not looked after each other, raising the alarm and waking those who slept, the numbers lost would be much greater.’**

These children had a hard enough time of continuing their education before the storms hit.

Kio Stark writes about how strangers can change our lives for the better:

‘As cosmopolitans, as humans, when our other identities [‘as members of a state, nation, race, ethnic group, affinity group’] come into conflict with our shared humanity, shared humanity wins.’^

It seems that we are strangers, worlds apart when, really, we are all citizens -cosmopolites – of the one world.

Martin Seligman poiints to how we need something other than GDP (Gross Domestic Product) when it comes to understanding how we need to flourish:

‘GDP is blind when it comers to whether it is human suffering or human thriving that increases the volume of goods and services.’^^

Bhutan is exploring how to measure Gross National Happiness (GNH).  Maybe the next step from this will be how we share such happiness: GGH (Gross Global Happiness).

It’s Anne Lamott who added to this narrative for me this morning by pointing out how we all come into the world much the same:

‘We come into this life so generous, alive, unarmoured, and curious.  Curious, in the best silliest, most fixated, life-giving way.*^

Yes, these are our wonderful equalities before the heavy stuff of state, nationality, race, ethnicity, and affinities kick in – not always bad, but always in significantly shaping way.  What if between these there hides that wonder of being citizens of the planet ‘like the silence between musical notes, where the mystery is’?*^  This is the drama hinted at by James Carse in the opening quote, rather than theatre – this being the script of state and nation and such.  This is where the cosmopolite lives, where we encounter strangers and surprises.

‘”Wherever you are, there you are,” [Greg] said, whenever anyone asked him if we were lost yet.’^*

(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(**EducAid is a British based charity which seeks to provide free secondary education in Sierra Leone.  VOXedinburgh is working towards an event on the 28th October to tell the stories of young people who have found and continued in education against great odds, this to raise awareness as well as to fund what will now be a rebuilding effort.)
(^From Kio Stark’s When Strangers Meet.)
(^^From Martin Seligman’s Flourish.)
(*^From Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway.)
(^*From Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust.)

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