There is a wind blowing. A fierce, chill wind. One that stings your skin and waters your eyes. You struggle to progress in the face of this wind. The harder you try the stronger it blows. It is now a gale.
Curiously, if you turn askance to the gale, change your direction, its power subsides. You turn again, the wind is now at your back and it has become a gentle breeze cooling you as you stroll along. As long as you remain in this direction the breeze is your friend, encouraging you, coaxing you to continue as you are. You allow it to do so as you choose the path of least resistance.
You notice another, moving in the opposite direction, head down, coat billowing in the face of the full force gale. You call out to him.
“Turn around, the breeze is gentle”.
He looks up at you first with anger but then with pity.
“I cannot” he replies.
“Why not?” you ask.
“That is the wrong direction” he says with sadness.
“But why struggle, it’s so much easier and more pleasant this way” you advise.
“Is it really?” he retorts.
You nod and walk on by.
You pass another struggling against the wind.
“Why struggle?” you state.
“Don’t you see?” she replies.
“See what?” you ask confused.
“You are just following the wind” she points out.
“Maybe so, but why not follow it?” I demand.
“You are not thinking, you are not of your own mind, you are deluded!” She yells angrily lowering her head and pushing forward into the wind.
You stroll some more, it is such a pleasant breeze, gentle, supporting, comfortable. You don’t really mind which direction you take you say to yourself. So why not take the easy path? What’s wrong with letting the breeze guide me? You look around and see plenty of others heading in the same direction and nod to yourself, reassured that your decision is correct.
A little further down you see a family struggling into the gale. The parents are holding hands, helping one another as they each drag a reluctant child behind. One of the children continually looks behind at the others heading in the other more comfortable direction.
“I don’t want to go this way Daddy. Why do we have to go this way? All my friends are going the other way” the child pleads.
“We are going this way because it is the right thing to do my dear. I know it’s harder, but if you search your heart you’ll realise that it is the right way” the father replies reassuringly.
Their voices die off as you walk away shaking your head at the sight.
You continue to wander. Your body feels relaxed and if you keep yourself distracted by the sights and sounds around you, you feel comfortable. However, in the recesses of your mind phrases keep emerging. That is the wrong direction, is it really easier, you are not of your own mind, you are deluded, it is the right thing to do, search your heart. These words beat a rhythm in your mind that matches your steps while you continue down the path the wind wants to take you. As if sensing your hesitance the breeze picks up pace as others in front of you encourage you forward with a wave of their arms.
Suddenly you stop and stand dead still. The wind begins to whip around you but you hold firm. You think to yourself, do I really want to simply follow, where do I really want to head, where am I actually going, where are we all going?
These thoughts race through your mind as you look at the multitude of others that are simply following the path of least resistance. You peer forward and notice for the first time that the horizon suddenly drops away as sheer as a cliff face. Everyone walking, by themselves, alone, heading blindly for the mysterious horizon.
You turn and look in the opposite direction and notice that those that are walking into the gale are banding together, joining hands, helping one another as they struggle forward. You notice that in the distance the ground rises and rises into a mountain. Groups, hordes, bound together are struggling forward, an ever growing sea of people joining forces to choose, not the easy way, but a different way.
Your eyes follow the curve of the slope all the way to the top as you notice the first groups of people reaching the summit. They are bathed in sunlight. You can see that at the summit there is no longer any wind. Those that reach the summit first immediately turn to help those that are still struggling. Despite their own exhaustion you understand that they want to continue the camaraderie, the sense of community they found on their way to the summit. They shrug off their fatigue and turn and help as many as they can. Theirs is a new beginning, a new way.
Thoughts race through your mind as you glance back at the people following the breeze, the easy way. To what end you cannot see, the path’s end is obscured or non existent. As you once again face blustery force you notice an old lady stumble and fall as she struggles against the gale. You go to her and hold out your hand.
“Here, let me help you, I’m heading in your direction anyway” you say to her.
She looks up at you with glistening eyes and a broad smile.
“Thank you for being so wise” she says.
In the spirit of Ubuntu,