05 August 2010

And the leopard shall lie down with the kid

A chance synchronicity ... on Tuesday, Jim Putnam's TTMF mentioned one of Edward Hicks’ sixty plus (the exact number escapes my memory at the moment) paintings in his Peaceable kingdom series. This morning, I went to a lecture on biblical imagery, and up popped a Hicks Peaceable kingdom painting – exactly the same one, in fact (this one, in the Worcester Museum of Art).

Hicks was a Quaker. I may not share his beliefs, either religious or sociopolitical, but I do have to admire them in their own terms and time. I can say the same of today's lecturer; her interpretation of the subject is one I cannot, and will never, share; but to hear the honesty, conviction and passion in her treatment of it was a real pleasure.

Looking gloomily around the world, as Jim does, there are more places than I can count where it would be nice to see the leopard lying down with the kid.

A lifetime ago, I was horrified to see another Quaker die because his beliefs made him play the part of the kid while the leopard remained an irremediably obligate carnivore. I would say that he chose to die rather than betray his beliefs; he would no doubt have said that he chose to live by them and the other did not. Sometimes the kid wins this sort of confrontation, but usually not; Ghandi won in a larger sense though not in the smaller one most of us would value more. I lack the courage to be a kid, but it's what we really need.

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