The moral of the fish

This evening, my students gave presentations on books they found meaningful. One of them, who had seen war during childhood, chose to discuss an Afghan novel (Hosseini's Thousand Splendid Suns), also about war. Her points were that some countries know war that endures for unfathomable lengths of time, "which makes the war I knew look silly." She also commented on how true love knows no barriers: neither those of time, nor the faults one makes during one's attempt to survive...
The metaphors we look for differ in scale in accordance with our experience. This is why I am confused by the consumption of violent films in countries that have less direct exposure to such things.
Also, for this young student to have chosen a novel about the extent to which the human soul will go to protect loved ones - and not judge the resulting actions - this is a level of compassion that very few people ever experience, whatever their age.
Another chose Doyle's Sherlock, even though short stories do not a novel make. In her explanation of the meaning of these tales of diversion, she said: "Such stories encourage us to pay attention to the little details that we would not only otherwise overlook, but which are crucial, despite their being so small and seemingly insignificant."
The little things, like the story of the Asian fish company that began to ship overseas. They first wrapped the fish in high tech material only to find on arrival that most of the fish had died. They then shipped the fish in a huge tank of sea water, to no better effect. The third time, they included predators in the tank, and though the predators ate some of the fish during the journey, those fish that did arrive were in prime condition.
My friend told me this story last night, with the point that we need tribulations to keep us creative and productive.
We know that we have to take the occasional "risks" (as yet another student put it tonight) if we want to benefit in life, but we are so inclined not to. I asked my students at the end of class, "So you agree with Great Expectations, you learned from Mill on the Floss and Snow, but how easy do you think it is to put this knowledge into practice? What gets in the way?" One student said: "If you don't do what everyone else is doing, they will crush you!" Another said people fear the risks.
But we know that if we don't accept the predator, we lose out on quality. If the predator is fictionalised, like in violent films, if the real life situations are not dealt with head-on, things can look pretty gloomy. Just like that recurrent dream I had again last night: of being near to murky waters, and not wanting to have to swim in them.
One has to accept life as it is, and participate.

Elements: pugly pixel sequins; minitoko paper

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