Dragon Slayers

“ Whatever happened to my 20:20 vision?” the girl wondered mournfully as she viewed the results of an eye test. Fortunately, new spectacles were readily available to balance the shortfall and focus was restored. If only the dysfunctional visions of life could be so easily corrected!

20:20 is a measure of visual acuity, standardized by the Snellen’s Test which records clarity of vision when identifying black letters of varying sizes on a white background at a distance of 20 feet, imperial measure. Since its invention in 1862 by the Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen, vision testing has become more complex and sophisticated, noting that other elements affect the interpretation of optical perception. Peripheral vision, depth, speed of movement, colour reception, eye coordination and even emotional reaction all play a part. We have heard the phrase, “I just don’t see things as you do. I have a different perspective.”

This is the year when we will all find a more urgent need to coordinate our vision. We live in a world of abused resources, be-spoiled beauty and flagging soil energy for crop growing to feed expanding populations. We can no longer wear the rosy coloured spectacles that our citizens wore as they emerged from a devastating war and gazed towards a brave new world with resolve and hope for prosperity. Those rose coloured lenses can blur the stark reality of social ills like poverty, conflict and wastefulness. How dismayed we may feel when a worthy campaign for justice and human rights morphs into militant entitlement demands and public sympathy leaks away.

The advent of social media has encouraged a spy-glass scrutiny of society, feeding the media with sordid gossip and pitching us into the habit of mockery and criticism that overshadows the genuine kindness of friends and neighbours.

How much more peaceful it could be if we put down the magnifying glass that expands the differences between us and distorts our ability to safely uphold the principles of democracy, the privilege of free speech and the exhortation to make every effort to live at peace together.

In the old tales of our childhood storybooks, there were usually some dragons around, living in caves, breathing fire and threatening the destruction of whole communities. Perhaps they are not so mythological after all.

Have we not encountered the dragon with the sad, empty eyes of depression that confiscates so many of our young people, depriving us of much needed talent and future potential?

We are all familiar with the wide-eyed dragon of consumerism that feeds on our supposed need for constant renewal and restless dissatisfaction with what we already possess.

“The world is too much with us
 Getting and spending
we lay waste our powers.”

The dragon with designer shades closes uncaring eyes to moral decline and libertine life choices, heedless of the emotional wreckage left in his wake.

Then the dragon with hooded eyes shuffles past like a Pied Piper leading his deluded followers into a haze of narcotic escapism and abandons them, sucked dry of the vigour of life.

Do we have the courage, the fortitude and the enduring resolve to still be dragon-slayers?

In the Beatitudes, Jesus gave us a precious blue-print for living with honour, at peace with ourselves, with our fellow humans and with our Saviour God.

With the Ten Commandments, God shone a laser beam of warning onto the destructive quicksands that consume any society given over to corruption and the abandonment of Divine precepts.

In the prophecies, God has recorded the long-sighted view of what is yet to be.

As we enter the year 2020 we should take a really close look again at these priceless gifts and embrace their wisdom for safekeeping, guidance and redemption.

Happy New Year to you all.

Iris Niven

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