I have had one or two Easter cards from friends as well as some verbal wishes for me to enjoy a happy Easter. Happy! Waddya mean - happy?! Of course, I realise that in this post-religious, or to be more precise, this post-Christian, era the story of Easter has been more or less forgotten, indeed, I had to think twice myself before writing this post. However, if what passes for my memory serves, then allow me to remind you that it tells the story of some poor Yiddisher kid who grew up thinking he was the Son of God and who went around preaching to the effect that we should all love one another and live our lives by a set of ethical rules which, you have to admit, may be a tad tricky to keep up but which are, by and large, emminently sensible. In return, you would earn a place in heaven when you die. Now that last bit was, and still is, the bit everyone forgets. There is a tendency for some people to try and live up to His standards and who then become mightilly pissed off when all they get for their efforts is ten tons of misery and trouble. But that's the point, see, you don't get your reward until you die! And indeed, His own life was the prime example - he went round preaching all these good things and claiming to be the Son of God and what did He get for his trouble - an excruciatingly cruel death inflicted on Him by malignant people whom He was trying to save!
Now, I don't pretend to know what happens to us after death. I am quite satisfied that whatever else does or does not happen, my carbon molecules will go back into the great mix and the "wheel of fire" will continue to turn. Nor, I must insist, do I conduct my life on the basis of what may or may not happen after my death. I don't quite know how or why but, given the odd few mistakes here and there, I have tried to live my life very roughly in line with the Christian ethic, not because I live in hopes of salvation but simply because it seems an emminently sensible way to conduct one's life. But is it?
I have been contemplating disasters recently. The main one that springs to mind, because I have just finished a book on it, is the battle of Kursk in 1943. I will not bore you with the details, suffice to say that the sheer, monstrous, unbelievable scale of the mass butchery that ensued simply leaves you dead from the neck up as the sympathetic synapses shut down one after the other. Millions of men, 'the good, the bad and the ugly', perished during that summer. The vast majority of them, I guess, were, in varying degrees, followers of the Jewish carpenter and His teachings. And it could be said, with accuracy, that not only did they follow His teachings but they followed His example - by dying cruely, and dying early, and dying miserably!
So, for me, the story of Easter is of just another futile death brought about by Man's inherent malignancy. If the whole of history is too much to take on then just read or watch a performance of King Lear. There, in a single play, you will have the whole human condition set before you. In it, the 'gods' are either appealed to for mercy, or praised for their wisdom and bounty, or blamed for the disasters that inevitably flow from Man's stupidity and cupidity. And yet . . . and yet . . . still we struggle on. With a tenacity and, I suppose, a hope that is almost Lear-like, we shake our puny fists at the heavens and struggle on.
Anyway, whatever else you do, do not wish me a 'happy' Easter!