Kipling’s List

Teach us delight in simple things
And mirth that hath no bitter springs
Forgiveness free of evil done
And love to all men ‘neath the sun.                                            Rudyard Kipling

On reading these lines, one might conclude that Kipling was somewhat naïve in his aspirations. We live in fraught times, alert to physical danger, aware of corrupt practice and sparing in trust of our fellow citizens. Furthermore, we must work at a furious pace to keep abreast of digital advancement, to comprehend the new language of cyberspace or the complex financial systems in which we sink or swim. All this makes for a toxic brew in which to rear our young ones. One in every eight Childline calls comes from a child who is deeply unhappy, anxious and lonely. The age of innocence is now so short, and even the heroes of our folktales and fairy stories are suspected of dubious motives or hidden agendas for their own advantage.

Where justice and purity were celebrated, endeavour gained due reward and goodness and courage once saved the day, we now find that ruthless ambition, survival at any cost to competitors and the brazen self-indulgence of greed are all commended.

So how do we find delight in simple things? Perhaps if we focus real thankfulness on things so often taken for granted, we will value afresh the clean water flowing from our taps, smog-free air, rescue and medical services, our rights and privileges as citizens of a free country. We hear birdsong, see the dawn light and the glory of sunset, and feel the embrace of a friend.

If we challenge ourselves to enumerate our own blessings, we may be surprised and indeed delighted to find how diverse and abundant they may be.


And mirth that hath no bitter springs

We are familiar with the antics of Laurel and Hardy, where falling over was part of the comedy routine. Their calamities invited laughter. However, it is a different matter to display glee at the downfall of an opponent, if mirth springs from jealousy and revenge. Modern social media has empowered the gloaters, the trolls and the vicious critics whose poison is all delivered anonymously to intimidate victims. If honest humour is still the best medicine, we need to guard and exercise it, lest it becomes lost in the hollow mirth of malice, sarcasm and enmity.


Forgiveness free of evil done

The writer of “The Tears of my Soul” was a thirteen year old boy in Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge butchered his family and other villagers. He himself was attacked, thrown into a pit of bodies and left for dead. Whilst the killers searched for more victims, he managed to escape to the jungle. There followed several years in a refugee camp in Thailand until Canada accepted and educated him. As a qualified Clinical Psychologist, he made the decision to put his Christian faith to a great test. He made the journey back to his home village, found the two men responsible for killing his parents and offered forgiveness.

Genuine forgiveness may at times, be outside our human capability because we cannot eradicate memory. Yet those who ask for it as a gift from God, testify that it brings true liberty of spirit, allowing deep wounds to heal so that the festering pain will not dominate the rest of life. Like the mercy that Portia advocated. It blesses both him that gives and him that receives.

A visitor to a graveyard came upon a headstone bearing only one magnificent word, ‘FORGIVEN’.


And love to all men ‘neath the sun

When daily news assails us with graphic reports of atrocities around the world, we feel outrage, horror, fear, not love. We live with threats of the unexpected, the unforeseen deadly intrusion into peaceful normality. Ultimately, love is stronger than hatred, so our mission is one of prayer that compassion will break the stronghold of bitterness and replace its devastating onslaught with tolerance and mutual respect. Love is from God, the essence and source of its sacrificial purity and inspirational hopefulness. 1 Corinthians ch.13 provides a mandate for all people everywhere.

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Iris Niven.

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