Ferguson’s “World”

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The world. – “I love the world,” says one. “I hate the world,” says another. “Some days I hate the world, some days I love it,” says another. All three are being truthful about what they feel. What is completely untrue is to think there is such a thing as “the world”. There isn’t. There is no “world”. No two human beings see the same “world”. This is where most, if not all, misunderstanding comes from. We talk about things as if we’re talking about “the same thing”. We’re not. “The world” – or perhaps “life” – is the best example.

There is the world of a man in northern Canada that you and I have never seen. There is the world out your front door that the man from northern Canada has never seen. There is the world of the baby sucking Mommy’s nipple. There is the world of the jihadist cutting off a head. There is the world of the Wall Street banker who counts money in his three-piece suit all day. This is usually a cutthroat world. There is the world of the poet who doesn’t own a suit and does not care about money. This is usually a world of tenderness and silent suffering. There is the world of the doctor who cuts open a chest and repairs a heart. There is the world of the lover whose heart burns with desire. There is the world of the soldier in Ukraine on the rebel side. There is the world of the soldier in Ukraine on the government’s side.  There is the world of the husband who discovers that his wife has a lover. This is usually a world of revenge. There is the world of the wife who has her needs that perhaps no one can ever know. There is the world of the lover who perhaps had never loved before. There is the modern grocery store cashier’s world, the “beep” sound thousands of times a day. There is the world of the kindergarten teacher, the car mechanic, the plumber, the pharmacist, the thief, the African immigrant who deals drugs, the African immigrant who refuses to deal drugs, the detective who tries to catch the drug dealers. There is the film star, the newspaper writer, the old man dying in a hospital that smells of death before and after, the young girl alone in her room putting on make-up for the first time in front of a mirror. There is the world of the missionary in Texas, Paris, or Japan. There is the world of the atheist in Texas, Paris, or Japan. There is the McDonald’s employee in Mississippi, Marseilles, or Macedonia. There is the world of hope. There is the world of despair. There is the world of the child who has been beaten, the child who has been abused, the child who lives to please a father or a mother, the child who has no father or mother. There is the world of the child born deaf, the child born blind, the child born with a mind that will always be that of a child. There is the football star who thinks ten million a year is not enough. There is the man who cuts the grass in the stadium who is happy with ten thousand. There is the world of the Portuguese immigrant who is happy to cut the grass. There is the Portuguese immigrant who hates his job. There is the Portuguese immigrant who doesn’t have a job and turns to crime. There is the world of the women and men who dream of many people except the person they sleep with at night. There is the world of the women and men who dream of only the person they sleep with at night. There is the world of those who are fascinated, those who are bored, those who like the world the way it is, those who never think about the world, those who want to change the world they see. There is the world of the child who is getting ready to go to Disneyland for the first time. There is the world of the child who will become a serial killer and the world of the child whose hero is Jesus of Nazareth. There is the world of the Virginia coal miner who goes down the shaft every day. There is the world of the claustrophobe who could never go down the shaft. There is the world of the prostitute who has her reasons. There is the world of the man who is desperate for the prostitute. There is the world of the priest and the child he abuses. There is the world of the woman who wants to be a priest. There is the world of the priest who no longer believes in god but who doesn’t dare to stop wearing his robes. There is the world of the other priest who dares. There is the world of the beggar in Calcutta whom I have never seen. There is the world of the child who has seen many dead before going to a refugee camp in Jordan. There is the child who has never left Washington D. C.  but has seen dead people on the sidewalk. There is the child in the Amazon jungle who has never seen a sidewalk. There is the child who has died shortly after childbirth. There is the child who has a tantrum when he isn’t allowed to play any more video games. There is the Alzheimer patient. There is the diabetic. There is the elderly woman who gets hit by a car and whose bones break like pretzels. There is the boxer who loves to box. There is the man who packs boxes all day in a factory. There is the man at the customs office who looks for illegal things inside boxes. There are the people who decide what is illegal. There is the world of the physicist, the astronomer, the philosopher, the theologian, the psychiatrist, the anthropologist, the geologist, and the biochemist. There is the world of the man who doesn’t give a shit about physics, astronomy, philosophy, theology, psychiatry, anthropology, geology, and biochemistry. There is the world of the man who only cares about football, fast cars, and goes through women like bags of chips. There is the world of the woman who spends her time shopping and collecting rich men. There is the man who loves other men and the woman who loves other women. There is the world of the nurse in Baghdad, Burundi, or Belfast. There is the bookie in New York City. There is the drunk on the stairs in Philadelphia in summer before evening falls. There is the Jew in Jerusalem who is still waiting for the Messiah. There is the Mormon in Missouri waiting for the Second Coming. There is the woman trying to get her start in the world. There is the middle-aged man who has nothing left to live for and will soon put a bullet in his brain. There is the daughter waiting for Mommy to come home. There is Mommy who has worked all day, rushed to the store, fixed dinner, and who can’t wait to lay down in bed. There is the world on television that some Mommies will watch for hours every evening. There is the world of the hermit in Alaska who couldn’t take the world any more. …. There are billions of worlds. There is a world for every head. But there is no world. There is your world and my world, her world and his world. But there is really no such thing as our world or their world. And when you think about it, even my world or your world is not the same thing from one day to the next, even from one hour or minute to the next. Maybe that middle-aged man won’t put a bullet in his brain after all. Maybe the Wall Street banker will go to Alaska. Maybe the Mormon will stop waiting for his Messiah. Maybe the world will brighten or lighten; or maybe the world won’t.

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