I visited Powys Castle a few days ago, and although impressed by its architectural features, captivating gardens and magnificent location, once inside I was overcome with a deep sadness as I followed the guiding red cord through halls adorned with tiger skin rugs, and rooms stuffed with the spoils of war and death: the glittering ornamental gold and silver objects, the weaponry glinting in the light, ivories, intricate tapestries, jewels, statues of Hindu gods, many acquired through violent oppression at the beginning of the British Empire in India when Robert Clive ( 1725-1774) was hired by the East India Company to forcibly invade and conquer the Indian subcontinent, making him an obscenely wealthy man, one of the richest in Britain.
I felt saddest when I entered the room containing 18 glass display cases housing an array of stuffed birds and animals staring blankly from their perches. Perhaps it is because I am still grieving the loss of my beloved Bill that life, in all its forms, has become more acutely precious to me and increased my sensitivity and awareness to the wondrous gift it is.
I now ponder the history of places like Powis Castle and the dehumanizing impact of Colonialism. How the seized treasures were flaunted and displayed to symbolize the dominance of one group over another. How we still have much to learn from history about how to treat one another. How our collective past is linked inextricably to our future and how critical it is for us to know the truth, no matter how horrific, so that we choose to be and do better.
Sadly, current signs reveal a reluctance to bravely confront the the systemic evils in society as an insidious, creeping contagion of revisionism and book banning seeps into our lives where too many of us are ignorant, unaware, or worse, indifferent.
When I began this post my intention was to explore the notion of living simply, without too much stuff to clutter up my life and distract from what is most important – loving my neighbor. Yet, my creative spirit took it it along a sequestered path. I see now that my neighbor can also be those from distant lands who came before.