Yesterday evening, I was very touched to see this ITV news report about the funeral of a man named Harry Morgan. In brief, when Harry died in South Wales at the age of 85, the Reverend Rachel Simpson was concerned that there would be no one present at this old man’s funeral aside from his solicitors and a few staff from the care home where he’d spent his final years, so she issued an appeal on social media.
As you’ll see from this BBC report, not only did members of the Welsh Guards turn up for his funeral service, but so did members of the public, so many so that the service had to be relayed by loudspeaker to others waiting outside in the rain. I didn’t see the Reverend Simpson’s appeal, nor would I have been able to attend the service even if I had done so, but it is hugely gratifying to read such a story and to help to mark Harry’s passing in some small way by recognising the simple facts of his life, his death and the way that strangers came to mourn and honour him.
For virtually identical reasons, I feel compelled to note the death of an Asian bear named Oliver, pictured at the top of this post. I’m filled with rage at the fact that this poor creature was forced to inhabit the innermost circle of Hell for thirty long years, but there’s nothing I can do about this now aside from heartily wishing a similar lingering torment on those depraved individuals responsible for his decades-long confinement and torture. At the same time, I can recognise the kindness and humanity of all those who rescued him, treated him and did their best to ensure that he spent his remaining days knowing he was loved and it’s clear from the details of this report on the Animals Asia site that there were a great many such people.
So, what do the stories of Harry and Oliver teach me? To tell the truth, they tell me little that I haven’t learned over the course of the last 55 years or so, which is that most people, for most of the time, are well-disposed towards their fellow human beings, even if these people are strangers to them. I’ve also learned that most people, for most of the time, are similarly well-disposed towards the creatures we share this planet with, at least to the extent that they wouldn’t knowingly inflict suffering on them.
As such, I don’t feel I need to look far afield for inspiration at those times when life seems bleak, because there will always be uplifting examples of how to conduct oneself from those members of the public in every country in the world, who make their ways into my consciousness on account of their selfless, warm-hearted acts. And the more I ponder these matters, the more I feel I’d be terribly misguided to follow the moral lead set by some of those in positions of power, whose values seem in stark contrast to those that I, and countless millions like me, instinctively hold dear.