Once upon a time, the world was like a scene from Mary Poppins, when the people that you worried about were those stood before you, towards whom you extended the highest courtesy and manners. Men would open doors for ladies, or even give up their seat. Children could step out on to the street and fly their kites with the grandees of society looking benignly on with their waxed walrus 'taches and pot-bellies.
The Bible tells us to love our neighbours, and I am happy to take that as Gospel (get it?) and so it is that we should extend the highest regard to those among whom we live and breathe and have our being.
But then the world got all strange. Actually, it sort of turned over on its peculiar head and we live in a world that Mary Poppins and Dyke Van Dick would struggle to comprehend - and me too if I am honest.
It seems to me that society lives for, and is afraid of, The Invisible Man. Let me explain:
- Our kids cannot play freely in the great outdoors because of the risk and threat projected upon them by the Invisible Man
- Christians can't have Christmas in a (largely, but not exclusively) Christian country because of the projected offense on the part of The Muslim Invisible Man
- We can't say entirely lumps of our language for fear of offending the feminist scruples of Lady Invisible
- We can't observe the dark grey quality of something's colour because of the offense it might cause West-Indian, African-American or African Invisible Man
- Our language is completely short-circuited because the Invisible Man will bring a lawsuit upon you
- We are in danger of neglecting our own because of what the Invisible Man (often referred to as "other people") might think
- We stop starting things because the Invisible Man would find fault and throw books at us
In simple terms, we have stopped so much worrying about those we can see in favour of those we cannot. And we are doing it often and obsessively. More is the case that the Invisible Man that governs and conditions all that we do and are is an entity that we may never meet, and so often at the expense of those near at hand. I see this all around me - people poleaxed by a guilt projected upon themselves by someone who never lived, or else so afraid to live because a non-existent person would become injured in some measure by their life-choices. Christians are good at this stuff.
I think it fair to say that life is a gift, and one we are called in vocational terms to embrace and live as fully as we are able. It may be that the Devil (or whatever entity you run from in life) is entirely Invisible and plagues us with our good will and best intentions.
(The use of the word 'man' is not intended to offend Invisible Women - but mirrors the song I used at the top of this)