Tuesday, 10 September 2013

A fairly rambling Thought for the Day.

At HorseBack, a man says to me: ‘Tania, come in here. There’s someone I want you to meet. He’s doing things with women.’

We go in. I am introduced. The HorseBack man says: ‘You are a raging feminist after all.’

I smile proudly. I say: ‘I am a raging feminist.’

The other gentleman also smiles, with no trace of fear.

I’ve never understood the thing of not being a feminist. Why would you not want men and women to be treated equally? Why would you privilege one group of humans over another, simple because one set has ovaries and one set has testicles? (It’s a dick thing, shouts the puerile side of my brain. But then, I’ve never really understood that either. Oh, and while we are on the subject: PENIS ENVY IS A MYTH.)

I think the problem is that people get muddled. Category errors canter about like spooked horses. The idea somehow got put about that feminists refuse to acknowledge difference, that they want men and women to be the same, that in order to achieve this evil plan they must emasculate the gentlemen and butch up the ladies. This is the category error. Men and women are not the same, although one has to be a little careful here, since the male/female brain is on a spectrum, as Professor Simon Baron-Cohen has so lucidly shown. Not all men have very male brains, and not all women very female ones. But that’s a whole other story. The point is that however different humans may be, they should be afforded the same opportunities. That’s the equal part. Not equality of self, but equality of dignity.

However, that is not the gist of this story. The point of this story is that it turned out that I got to meet another of the fascinating men. Without a second’s pause, we were off to the races. We galloped over courage, motivation, confidence, belonging, the basic human needs, societal fears, war and any other animal we could get our hands on. By the time the HorseBack man came back in and asked about the women, I said: ‘we’re way beyond the women, we’ve done the whole human condition.’ (I’m also ashamed to say that I bellowed, in quite a small room: ‘SO INTERESTING.’ I have a tendency to shout when excited or riveted.)

What I thought, as I drove away, again stimulated by being in the presence of such an active and thoughtful brain, was a comically simple thing. It is: there are an awful lot of good people, doing an awful lot of good things. They don’t make the papers, they are not followed by the paparazzi, they don’t provide rich fodder for the tabloids. Quietly, unheralded, they go into the places where the broken people are, and do their best to repair shattered lives.

This particular interesting gentleman works for an organisation which helps everyone from addicts to young offenders to children in care. His current project is working with female offenders (hence the women). Prison is stuffed full of women who come from shattered backgrounds and grinding poverty; they often take to drugs, which in turn leads to prostitution. They find themselves in the grip of a pimp or an addicted partner, who may push them onto the streets in order to pay for a double habit. These are the difficult people, from whom society turns its eyes. This interesting gentleman helps them pick up the pieces, and find hope in the wreckage. It’s the kind of thing that makes me want to take off all my hats.

The interesting gentleman I met last week also works for a charity, doing similarly vital, good, often unsung work. I thought of these two clever people, making a damn difference. I get a little despairing sometimes, when I think of all the sorrow and the pity. The barrage of bad news from Syria, that most knotty of Gordian knots, with no good solution or easy answer, can make one want to give up and hide in a hole until it is all over. Sometimes, if one pays attention to the news, it is tempting to think that the whole of the human condition is poverty and fear and prejudice and injustice. We are all for the dark, and there’s nothing in our puny plan which can counter it. (You see that I am so exercised that I have used my hated Universal We. Forgive me.) But there absolutely are rays of light. These good individuals, fighting their own good fights, are the glimmers in the darkness.

The other trap that I sometimes tumble into is the idea that all these organisations are too small, up against the hugeness of the wars and dictators and terror organisations and blank walls of hatred. But then I think of the thing that was quoted in Schindler’s List, when Oscar Schindler was berating himself for not saving more people. Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire. It is a small, difficult truth. But it is a truth, and it is a light, and it is my thought for the day.


Today’s pictures:

10 Sept 1

10 Sept 2

10 Sept 3

10 Sept 3-001

10 Sept 11-001

The Remarkable Trainer came and continued Red’s jumping education:

10 Sept 8

She actually did a BOUNCE. This is when you put up two fences without a stride in between. The horse must land and then immediately take off. It’s pretty difficult. This is only her fourth serious jumping lesson. She did it perfectly, twice. The RT and I whooped and threw our arms in the air. Red looked at us both as if to say: Yes, well, of course.

Clearly telling her best friend all about her own utter brilliance:

10 Sept 11

Look at this collection. She is starting to learn to carry herself like a dressage horse. Rather amazingly, it is not done with contact or even any obvious aids, but the power of thought. This sounds bonkers, but, as the RT explains, if you just think upwards, the horse will rise up to meet you. It’s a completely different gait, the most lovely, rolling trot. Red is so, so clever I can’t really get over it:

10 Sept 20

I love this intelligent face. And the ear, of course:

10 Sept 12

We haven’t had a beech avenue for a while. Here’s one with a galloping dog in it:

10 Sept 17

The hill:

10 Sept 20-001


  1. Not equality of self, but equality of dignity.

    So beautifully put I paused to let it sink it. And was properly uplifted by the sense of it; as I was by the photo of Stanley bowling along the beech avenue.

  2. Stanley the galloping dog doesn't need any contenders to win by a mile.

  3. From a totally different context, "rage against the dying of the light". Why *shouldn't* we get excited and enthralled by the generous souls who give of themselves? They deserve better than column inches, they deserve support (which column inches may generate).

    Red is doing brilliantly, and the "thinking makes it so" is an odd phenomenon which I've certainly had with dogs. It suddenly feels magical and right.


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