Karma In Action

Telling Stories

Tracy Chapman

There is fiction in the space between
The lines on your page of memories
Write it down but it doesn’t mean
You’re not just telling stories
There is fiction in the space between
You and me

There is fiction in the space between
You and reality
You will do and say anything
To make your everyday life
Seem less mundane
There is fiction in the space between
You and me

There’s a science fiction in the space between
You and me
A fabrication of a grand scheme
where I am the scary monster
I eat the city as I leave the scene
In my spaceship I am laughing
In your remembrance of your bad dream
There’s no one but you standing

Leave the pity and the blame
For the ones who do not speak
You write the words to get respect and compassion
And for posterity
You write the words and make believe
There is truth in the space between

There is fiction in the space between
You and everybody
Give us all what we need
Give us one more sad sordid story
But in the fiction of the space between
Sometimes a lie is the best thing
Sometimes a lie is the best thing

I stumbled across this the other day and then I stumbled across this:

I had an early intimation of the attractions of evil when I was quite small. As a boy, I went to a lot of football matches and was enthusiastic about them in a way that I now find very difficult to understand. Anyhow, there was a cup match which I deemed it of supreme importance that I should attend, and as the tickets went on sale well in advance, I took myself off to the stadium and joined a very long queue. I was about eleven years old at the time.

In front of me in the queue was a group of young men. Going along the queue was an old blind beggar, accompanied by a child with a cap into which donors could put their coins. The old man had an accordion and was singing ‘The Man Who Broke the Bank of Monte Carlo’. As he approached the young men they turned up the volume of the transistor radio that they had with them to drown out the old man’s song, laughing as they did so. The poor old man was bewildered, and walked away as if confused and frightened.

I have never forgotten that little incident, and it has haunted me – not continuously, I hasten to add – ever since. The pleasure those young men took in taunting the old man, and laughing at him, taught me that the human heart is not invariably good; that there is a lot of fun in cruelty. But it also taught me something else.

I did nothing to defend that old man. Of course, it would have been unreasonable, as I now realise, to expect an eleven year-old boy to go and tackle a lot of seventeen year-olds, or however old they were; discretion in this case really was the better part of valour. But I knew then, straight away, that I failed to assist the man from cowardice and for no other reason; and furthermore, no one else in the queue intervened either. As Edmund Burke put it, or is supposed to have put it (there is a brilliant essay on the internet pointing out that there is no source of this famous quote), ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing’.

Sometimes I think that maybe, just maybe, there really is a God.

Addendum: I’d like to remind readers of The Wall Street Journal of the tragic case of Kitty Genovese.

Addendum II:  I must say I can do nothing but agree with the commenter writing here who asserts that, ‘I’ve not read the article, but most of the comments. I find the ‘was ever thus’ mentality never ceases to amaze me.’

Indeed.  We used to hang, draw and quarter traitors.  In these more enlightened times we just throw food at them.  Now that’s what I call progress.

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