Sunday, 4 September 2011

The corrosive effect of fear

Behind my house is the corner of a field. Sometimes it has cows on it, which nowadays worries me a bit after reading Mark Wadsworth’s blog but this year was quite safe, it had a cereal crop and I have yet to be attacked by a rogue cornflake. A couple of weeks ago the crop was cut and the machine chuntered round eating up the straw and pooping big square bales out the back, which were then collected on a trailer and hauled off like a crazy mobile haystack. All except one bale near the corner which fell apart, so it couldn’t be lifted by the machine and was left behind.

Some days later I was working in the garden when all this shouting and noise erupted from the field. My instant thought, what the hell is going on, who are they, why are people messing around just behind my fence, what trouble are they up to?

I discreetly peeked over the fence to see a small group of kids who were playing on the discarded bale, and I immediately realised they were doing nothing wrong at all. They were not causing any damage, they were not causing any problems, they were not shooting people via their Playstations or trying to buy underage booze or hold a riot. They were doing exactly what kids should do, getting outside on a warm summer evening playing and getting healthy exercise and excitement by using their imagination! No adult to tell them what they should be doing, no fears of adults trying to do anything to them, just kids enjoying themselves, very much as I was fortunate to be able to do in easier times half a century ago when children were allowed and expected to be children.

I discreetly went back to my gardening and left them undisturbed, but I was disturbed. What has happened to me and to the world that my first reaction to hearing a healthy normal situation should be to expect trouble?

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