Scroll down to the video at the bottom of this post now, please. Look at the hands clapping, the hands holding the violin, the hands playing the piano. What do they all have in common?
They are human hands. Hands capable of creating, guiding, helping. Hands capable of caressing, kneading, supporting. Hands that reach out, sometimes to other human beings. Hands that build. Perhaps bridges, you could say. These are human hands, similar in appearance and functionality to the ones I am using now to type up this post. Yes, you could say that they differ, these hands in the clip and your hands, and mine. Because some are bigger whereas others are smaller. Some are lighter-skinned whilst some are of a darker blue. Some have pencil-thin fingers. Others boast short, fat digits. But, despite the differences these hands are human. Human hands that are capable of loving.
They are also capable of hating.
They can hold a gun, these hands. They can hold a ballot paper that will seal a nation’s fate, a knife (with murderous intentions) or a baseball bat on an unlit road. And even if the decision to use our hands comes ultimately from our brain, that final command to act, you could say, it is our hands that carry out the deed. The same hands you saw earlier in that clip caressing the black-and-whites.
We are responsible for what we do with our hands. We are accountable, first to ourselves as adults, then to society, for how we use our hands. Barring pathology, we should be perfectly capable of making rational decisions that benefit us and our fellow human beings. When we do not, we should not make excuses and seek refuge in amendments from bygone eras, abstract nouns like politics or easy scapegoats like immigrants. We are individuals, indeed, but that does not mean imposing an individualistic way of life on others.
Hatred is winning. Along with its close relative, fear. We are using our hands more and more to elicit tears of sorrow than joy. The hands guiding the orchestra in the clip are losing to the ones pulling the trigger outside an MP’s surgery. We have ditched the conditional “if” for the more practical and terrifying “when” in statements. We are getting used, like it or not, to hatred and fear.
I am not. A South African opera singer performing a song in Latin to the score of a dead German composer, led by a Dutch violinist in a Brazilian city is the world I want to live in. I do not want to live in a world where a four-year-old asks his father to teach him how to fire a gun because he witnessed daddy killing a robber at the barber’s. I do not want to live in a world in which daddy says that he will teach his son in due course, obviously, but not now. When his son turns five instead…
I do not get to decide how the world shapes up. Nor would I like to, in all honesty. I am not into prescriptive measures. I would rather we, of our own accord, used our hands to bring out the best in our fellow humans, as Kimmy and André do in the clip. After all it is better to cry of joy than to cry over yet another life lost to hatred. Look at those hands clapping, playing, directing. Look at your own now, capable of creating, kneading, helping. Building, too. Bridges, you say? Yes, bridges. They are also capable of loving. And we need a lot of love today. Please, let us use them for that purpose.
Next Post: “Saturday Evenings: Stay In, Sit Up and Switch On”, to be published on Saturday 2nd July at 6pm (GMT)