CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 February 2019

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Missing the wood for the trees

There are many ways of gleaning knowledge and academic sources are certainly not the only ones. In fact academe often only gives us part of the picture to promote its own interests.

While that does not mean that we should not pay any attention to the learning of academics, it does mean that sometimes we need to take what they say with a grain of salt.

In fact, we should always listen with attention, but not in a manner that allows our conscience to be silenced.

What reminded me of all this was a story I read in a satirical Italian news agency called Lercio (dirty).

It puts out fake news and recently ran a story about the mayor of a town who had a paint shop closed down in order to protect the sensitivity of people who are colour blind!

However, there is a lot more to the story than a bit of nonsense.

It is having a dig at political correctness which in many ways pays respect to almost everything except the truth, leaving us cherishing the unfortunate at the risk of labelling everyone unfortunate by using words to hide realities.

Life is often unjust, but we also need to accept reality and by being politically correct we can miss the wood for the trees.

I heard a story about a Mexican guy called Juan.

He rode a bicycle up to the customs post at the border with two largish bags slung over his shoulder.

“What’s in the bags?” the customs official asked. “Sand,” replied Juan.

Not to be fooled, the official ordered him to hand them over so he could inspect them.

He emptied them out, but still not convinced ran tests keeping Juan in the lock up overnight.

Finding nothing, he apologised to Juan, repacked the sand for him, placed it on his shoulders and waved him on his way.

Over the coming months this scene was repeated several times a week, until one day the customs official happened to walk into a coffee shop only to see Juan sitting there enjoying a bread roll and a long black.

Gingerly he approached him and asked if he could sit down. Juan graciously gestured to him and ordered coffee for his long-time acquaintance.

Eventually the customs official plucked up the courage to ask, “What are you smuggling? I am going mad trying to figure it out. Can’t sleep at night or concentrate on anything else.”

With a wry smile Juan put his cup down and replied, “Bicycles!”

 Aurelio Porfiri