A Warning to Those Who Might Consider Becoming White Magicians

Ramsey Dukes

This essay is taken from ''What I Did in My Holidays'' by Ramsey Dukes published by Mandrake of Oxford

I remember one bleak Sunday morning long ago, in a far distant county waiting, shivering for a bus. A group of us, getting angrier and colder.

When one, very late, bus arrived and the conductor said he was not allowed to take on more passengers... we could have torn him to shreds. He protested at our wrath and said it was not fair: there was a bus strike on that day and he was one of the few who had opted to work because of his sense of public duty. All he had got for his pains was a tirade of abuse from angry passengers like us. Next time he would strike with the rest.

More recently I tried ringing the National coach service for information and - after endless engaged tones, numbers unobtainable, no answer and irritating recorded messages which simply put me through to another engaged tone - I eventually found a human answerer in an office in Scotland.

I said "before we start, I would like to say that I have tried about twenty offices before getting any reply..." He interrupted me to tell me that he knew what I was going to say, and please not to go on. I went on to say that I had no intention of taking it out on him because he was only doing his job, but I did want him to give me the name of someone I could write and complain to, because it was not fair that staff like him should have this pressure put on them while angering customers like me. I had obviously learnt something from that Sunday morning long ago.

In response he was so relieved that he actually thanked me, and said he wished other people had the same attitude. It seems that the tendency to take it out on the most accessible person is the norm: that the world still tends to hit out at the minority who choose to serve it.

That appears to be a cosmic law; and it works like this. Let us say you are a city dweller who has just heard about the evils inflicted by human civilisation on the environment, and you decide that you will be no more part of it. So you sell your flat and set up an organic small-holding in the deepest countryside, determined to live your life in unexploitive harmony with Nature. Now I suspect that, deep in your heart, you somehow expect Nature to thank you for it: to shower you with her abundance; to make the sun shine on your endeavours; to make your seeds spring gratefully from the soil. In fact the opposite will happen: you must expect a lousy reception; the worst weather of the century; an epidemic of new crop blights, mad goat disease, poxy chickens and every calamity you can imagine plus a whole crowd more. Meanwhile the factory farmer over the hill reaps record profits and the value of city flats soars...

As with that bus conductor, those who decide it is time to listen to Nature must expect an earful of abuse. Those who fulfil their dream of going to a Third World country to tend the needy must expect to be broken on the wheel of politics. Those who decide to foster sensitivity in relationships are invoking hell from their partners. Those who wish to heal ideas will end up in hiding from them. Those who incarnate to save the world will be crucified.

Indeed anyone lead by curiosity and conscience to turn from the clamour of surface reality to listen to the voices of the wind, stars and spirit must not expect reward for their dedication. Instead they must be prepared to cope with the rage of the neglected.