In the history of our little planet. There appears to be an increasing lack of clemency.
Anti semitism is working its way back into acceptable middle-class culture, as are other traditional phobias - resentment and distrust are given a body in “the arab”, “the asylum seeker” and the expressions of our darkest side are increasingly public - I recently saw a sign saying “no Albanians” outside a social club on my street and this morning’s guardian headlines with “India alert as nuclear war looms”.
Through the five days of labour that Nicki worked through, I read this book to her. Reading out loud calms her, and can even get her to sleep if she is in pain or worrying, so I picked up a selection of books at random in a bookstore on Haverstock hill near the hospital. It is “The Talmud and the Internet” by Jonathan Rosen.
The story resonated with our own experience as Nicki felt pain and suffered but eventually brought a little clemence into the world. It looks at how a man can reconcile joy and suffering and find a way to be happy where he fits in to the bigger picture by accepting the impossibility of knowing anything and the responsibility of being a perpetual student. It hints at the necessity of evil and hatred as a way to undestant the need for love, suggesting the value of everything is better understood when seen in a conituum with its evil twin and its not-quite-so-evil distant cousin.
As I write this I realise I’ve just completely failed to describe the book. It is beautiful because of its humanity and as I think of my little daughter and her mother I hope for humanity in these uncertain times.