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Sunday 26 June 2011

"For the Children"

I guess that in moments of extreme physical danger reactions are not always indicative of a person’s character. I once saw a documentary about ‘Heroes’ which included several interviews with people who had been in perilous situations, some of whom had later been hailed as heroes and others as cowards. One example was a man who, on a sinking ferry, turned himself into a human bridge, risking his own life so that others could literally walk over him to safety. He was later awarded for his courage and yet he said that he had suffered nightmares ever since and didn’t remember anything of his thoughts at the time. On the same programme was a woman who, in a panic to escape from a burning plane, had trodden on her fallen fiancé's body in her desperate attempt to escape. Her fiancé died and she had lived with a great burden of guilt ever since. Both reactions, it seemed, were spontaneous and one certainly could not condemn that poor woman who, in different circumstances might well have been a heroine.

Having said that, it seems that in times in heightened emotion people tend to become most truly themselves. Some people become very calm and quiet and ‘something else’ appears to take over (I consider that ‘something else’ to be their true self, and the God within each of us). Others tend to panic or talk a lot or burst into tears or behave in ways that appear out-of-character and that seems to me to be a desperate need to control the situation from a solely physical aspect. Either way, sooner or later, it all comes down to who we really are – that powerful Divine life that is the very breath of our being.

One thing (among many!) that seems to be often forgotten about Franz Ferdinand, is what he said when the fatal bullet struck him. This man, who is so often relegated to a footnote in history and so mistakenly described as nothing more than a bull-headed angry man, at the moment of his death said to his wife as she died in his arms, "Little Sophie [Sopherl, Sopherl] you have to live for the children....” A term of beautiful endearment to his wife, and his thoughts turned at once to their children. It says a great deal about the man, I think, that this was his priority at that moment. What a loving and devoted husband, in an age where many men of his station kept mistresses; and what a loving father, in an age where many men of his station had little to do with their children. Had the First World War not been stage-managed to come about as a result of his murder, I really believe that history would have learned to see him in a very different light. I hope with all my heart that “Shattered Crowns: The Scapegoats” (which is very close to publication) will at least begin to touch on the reality of this much maligned and misrepresented man.

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