On Giving – And Keeping – Your Word

By Bernie Bell

Reading Steve Sloan’s article..  https://theorkneynews.scot/2021/02/25/are-we-living-in-a-post-responsibility-society/

…I was reminded of this poem by Zbigniew Herbert.

Zbigniew is a Polish name pronounced something like: “Za-big-niv”.  Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1988) was a Polish poet who saw hard times. He resisted the Soviet regime. Seamus Heaney said of him, that he was not a poet interested in being fancy, he was a poet interested in telling the truth.

You give your word, you make your choice, you commit yourself, and you must stand by it.   Once you become aware, are given the choice “in the blinding present”,  and set your foot on the path, you must stick to it, still out of choice though, it’s no good if it becomes just because you feel you must, or because it becomes a habit.  You have to keep re-iterating your choice and your commitment, keeping it fresh, and learning too, all the time, and as we learn, we renew our commitment, as the knowledge of what we’re here for, becomes clearer and stronger.

That’s a mighty good poem.  And it does stick in your throat, a bit, sometimes, when it’s hard to stick to it, and it looks like life would be easier if you could go back to sleep and sleep-walk through it.  But it isn’t.  And it isn’t about life being easy, anyway.  It’s about seeing your way, making your choice, and going with it, working with it, as long as you feel it’s the right choice, but, if your view changes, maybe a shift is then called for, but always sticking to having given your word, to do what you believe to be the right thing, at any given time.

As Robert Plant sings in ‘Shine it all around’ –

“These are the times of my life

Bright and strong and golden

This is the way that I choose when the deal goes down.” 

Grass of Parnassus credit Mike Bell

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1 reply »

  1. Even if you’ve only given your word to yourself – that still counts.

    Governments can tell us what we’re allowed to do and not do – but it’s down to us to make the responsible choices.

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