The Isle of Forgetfulness
Innocence by Gustave Kaitz (December –1979)
Once upon a year all innocence breaks loose, and the world becomes a fairytale. Christmas and Chanukah rise up on the horizon as an oasis, a place to refreshen our thoughts, and reflect upon our travels. We rekindle old friendship, dispel enmity, open our hearts in good wishes to friends and neighbors, and bestow love and affection upon our own. And for a split second of truth we live in a world rid of hate.
Christmas, the Festival of the Nativity of Christ, and Chanukah, the festival of lights, in a deep sense, carry with it a universal message proclaiming love and peace for all mankind, in the quest of victory over the forces of bigotry and enslavement.
Why then are the people visited with the fiasco of their sacred beliefs, their lofty precepts made into a mockery?
As I reasoned so, a soft slumber fell over me; and when I awoke Innocence had me by the hand. Laughingly he drew me upward and upward through a mist of cloud and maze. Onward we sailed, in ships of the sky, on white crusted waves deep in the planes of blue. Stellar nymphs guided the helms of our bounties into hidden shores of island harbors.
From afar they came, to the magic isles of joy. Clowns and acrobats, musicians, healers and soothsayers, poets, artists, people who build and people who dream, and a host of animals in merriment joined. In size and color, in song and dance, of different ways they were, but in all was harmony.
With pomp and circumstance, a King arrived, in gala arms, with ministers of justice. But alas! No subjects had he to rule; and the ministers of justice, no one to judge. Marching soldiers with wooden guns paraded in manners of haughty pretense. And such was the glory of battleships, they never went to sea. In readiness and measured file, the warplanes stood, but never could they fly.
Innocence smiled; he was adorned by simplicity, unaffected by hate, unfamiliar with prejudices and sensitive to the real and the fantasy alike. “Sacred beliefs and lofty precepts,” he whispered, “are creations of the mind; to attain what is beautiful, one must see with the heart.”
This fable, written by Gustave Kaitz was first published on January 1, 1978, in the Times Herald Record, New York.
It’s Time to Ring out the Old and Time to Ring in the New
An old chap and a young chap are talking ...Monticello’s artist-author, Gustave Kaitz happened to overhear. Something about what was past and what is to come...
The wheel of time was running out as the old man restlessly paced the ground. With each step he seemed to grow a little older; his long frenzied beard a little longer. He rubbed his tired, withered hands in a nervous clasping gesture, then suddenly coming to a halt, he raised his head to listen anxiously; then he paced again. Finally, the long awaited signal came from outside. Weighted with the burden of his year, the old man eagerly swung open the gate and exclaimed, “I thought you’d never come, my son.”
“It was a long journey,” said the young visitor as he stepped through the opening. ”It wasn’t easy to find this tiny planet, Earth. I almost sailed by. Tell me Father, why do you look so worn and aged?”
“My son, this was a year of hardships. Wars have left countless Earth people dead and sick and homeless; many starve. All things suffer from it. There is neglect...that also taints the good. People fear; they are in want. And the laws help only the lawmakers, not the people.”
The young visitor looked up and asked,
“Who makes these wars?”
“The governments make the wars.”
“Who are the governments?”
“The governments are people, Son.”
”I don’t understand, Father.”
The old man tried to explain about peoples and governments and wars, and power. But the young visitor could not know, for he was still untouched by the ills of man.
“What is power, Father? Does it make people live longer?”
“No, son. Power is a disease of Earth; it breeds masters who fight for ownership of the earth.”
“Why do the people allow this?”
“They do not know. They are fooled and kept in ignorance. Many teach that the earth and its riches belong to all the people but they are soon killed off in the name of Liberty.”
“Liberty, my son, is the greatest mystery of all. Everyone believes in it, will die for it, but no one really knows what it is.
“To some it means freedom from oppression, to others it is freedom from necessity, and there are those who believe it gives them the right to suppress others. But in their wild desire to take what is not theirs, they all become as one. This they call Patriotism.”
“Patriotism? What is that Father?”
“Patriotism is a kind of devotion that divides people. Lofty but muddled speeches are made. They take it like a drug; it makes them crazy with hate. Brother is thrown against brother, nation against nation, killing becomes a thing of honor, and for many, a moral duty.”
“What does moral duty mean, Father?”
“Moral duty, my son, is a grand illusion. It is everywhere yet nowhere. Many claim its rights, preach its goodness. It is a sort of blindness that cannot see what is cruel, what is suffering, what is war. And then, with added dignity, each in his own moral way, all come together in large halls and pray for peace and forgiveness...”
“Who do they pray to?”
“They pray to God, of course, to protect them against the other, and to cleanse themselves of their wrong.”
“On whose side is this God?”
“God only knows.”
A puzzled young face looked up at the old man, “God...what is a God, Father?”
“God is a great moving spirit, son. He is in everything and everyone, from the tiniest seed to the stars in the heaven and to all the worlds. He is the giver of life and lives in each of us. Through His nature we learn of the grand scheme and the meaning of what is good, what is beautiful, and what is love... it is a religion of the heart.
“But people do not understand...they see God only in far-off places.
“Tonight there are great celebrations in your coming: love, goodwill, and affection flow in all their purity and wonder. People beat their chests, swing high their arms and cry out promises of grand deeds – but tomorrow all is forgotten.”
The young visitor looked up, and a light came into his eyes. “Maybe in my year there will be hope for change,” he said.
“My son, youth is unspoiled, the innocent heart has a language of its own. Listen to it and you will soon see when others do not, you will know when others will not, you will feel when others cannot. This is the hope.
“My time is up, I am weary and I must go now. I’ll rest in the hills and the valleys of another dream. Good luck, New Year.”