The ethos of the postman

The ethos of the postman

Those many aeons ago, for the sands and the tides of the times have a weird tendency to play kaleidoscopic gyroscopes with the mind of the individual that stands afore in the midst of the floating log raft of time.  One day I am reading the sweet tales and the timeless verses in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the masterful The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, as penned by the humorous mind of Samuel Clemens (he who later adopted the nom de plume Mark Twain).

The tale is followed by another in this brief mental bioscope or recollections on tales I have witnessed as either living spectacles, or in the masterpieces of the silver screen where impossibilities are non-existent; for even James Bond can pose as a native in Guyana in his tuxedo and not be questioned about his peculiarity if he is on the cinema screen.
It is from this latter world that I draw inspiration as millions of other earthly citizens do in the privacy of their homes on TV screens, or in the open arenas and theatres where for a time, each individual can live out their fantasies through the lead character they see in the film production they are viewing.

I saw Kevin Costner’s The Postman in my first year at varsity, it was two years since its release in 1997, but one does not question the age of what they watch on the silver screen out here: we watch for the message and the thrill of joy that comes with watching a really good movie production, not the date of release; for it does not matter.
What mattered to me was the theme in the movie; the plot covers the tale of a lone postman that delivers letters that are past their date of delivery in a post-apocalyptic world; and the letters are well received for they carry in their content the hope needed to keep the minds of the other characters he comes across in his pilgrimage buoyed in the murky depths where hopelessness and other negativities are lurking.

This production about a concept that was dying (for remember, postage the old way was fading out and the novel ways of sending messages such as the cellular phone and the internet were picking up strength in terms of popularity), struck a chord in me that awakened my awareness of the essence of the late message; the message that may be seen to be late due to the hour it reaches the audience. From the perspective of the critic that considers the time of the occurrence of the fact stated in the message, to the moment it is revealed to the audience that gets to read of its contents, time may seem to be of the core essence, but the reality is that time matters not.

The journalists and reporters of the world write their stories and their articles well after the occurrence of the fact, and this may be seen as a flaw if one does not consider the amount of in-depth research and forensic analysis on the evidence presented that these figures have to do in actual terms, before they dare publish their story in the paper or other forms of media.
Stories that are told many days after the events they recount have occurred may, in actual terms, reveal the finer and salient details in the story that are necessary to the understanding of the gist of the matter.

These are the details that the breaking stories may miss, and which may mislead the readers that get to view them. Thus, the issues that appear in the papers may seem like old mail, but it is mail that actually enlightens one to the reality that is going on around that one may not be aware of.  The obsession with breaking news may somewhat inadvertently dim the core essence of the story, reading old news may prove to be the lesson that clarifies what was previously unclear, for it recaptures the fine details needed to gain understanding.

Writing does not come naturally, it is not talent as many are tempted to declare it as; writing is a craft that requires deep observation of the environment, and to recount that which one sees with the sole aim and intention of passing the message on.  The reality is that what you write may not get to see the light of the day, if you do not spend enough time observing; for out of observation comes the experience that trains the eye and the mind to discern between what should be told and for what reason it should be told.

The postman does not do his job for the sole purpose of walking from one address to the next, delivering letters of whose contents he does not know.
He or she knows that the messages in the mailbag need to be treated with utmost care, this goes for the writer that knows the essence of the craft lies in the manner in which the message is delivered to the public.  The message in the letter or piece of news carries hope for the reader, it carries romantic mirth for the lovers in an affair, and it may for others also bear sad news and condolences meant to assuage the anguish of the bereaved.

What we are as writers is to a large extent influenced by what we come across, how we view and deal with it, and how we interpret it.
The only difference between the writer and the village gossip lies in the fact that the writer gets to re-meditate on the seen and the heard and how best to deliver it to the reader.
The village gossip often seeks to divide through the whispered slanders delivered to motormouths that will spread its caustic contents that at the end of the day erode the very fabric of society, and leave it as a rent entity whose tattered bearing cannot cover any member of society safely.

The journo and the reporter must in my view carry the ethos of the postman whose message is soon picked up by other groups of postmen in other neighbouring societies.
The core commitment should be to the delivery of a message of change and hope for the masses that are bound in the clutches of whatever negative emotion or act they are focused upon.
In a time of war, it is not safe for the writer to be fanning the flames of strife and blowing the trumpets of hate in their columns; the core of the profession stems from the realisation that words can indeed be powerful tools that can be used to free the minds of the masses.

Instead of adopting the dangerous stance of speaking ignorant of the simple fact that a word said is hard to return to the source from which it stems, the modern day writer should be teaching other positive lessons to humanity.  By blowing other people’s words out of proportion, the writer’s own opinion soon disappears, and their valiant commitment to telling the truth fades in the cacophony of the populist thoughts whose opinions are at once whimsical due to their dependence on repeated words and phrases.
What is repeated is not essentially what is true, it may just be a mantra meant to curb the train of thought in the mind of the listener, and to render such a reader a zombie that follows words without question.

I am a believer in the word, but I don’t get religious about what I hear, for far often than less, experience has taught me that being fanatical about what I hear may at the end of the day prove me a fool, that is if I become all fervent about it and ignore the finer details in it. The character in the movie I watched fell upon the profession by accident, from his previous professions as a performer of Shakespearean plays for food and water, forced conscription into militia ranks after whose escape from he takes refuge in the vehicle of a dead postman.
He from then teaches the word that he is a postman from a restored government, and the people actually believe in it, for the word he utters carries a sense of hope absent in the aftermath of the apocalypse.

We live in a world that has been ravaged by time and history, by endless covert and overt civil wars and famine.
The great depression the world is going through (though to a large extent a doctored experiment meant to subjugate certain classes within society), needs not a writer that preaches on how poor we are; the world needs writers that acknowledge the good deeds of those who try to help others help themselves instead of promoting mentalities of servitude the old systems of colonial times passed on to their kin nations to impose upon this poor rich continent of Africa.

The temptation is to sell the story many a time, but I will keep on reiterating: of what use is a good story if the intention behind it is not to unite but to divide?
Of what use is the story if it does not actually acknowledge the real and tangible contributions others have made in the struggle to better the world?
The fights of this here world are often dirty, and the defences of their acts of violence are often vehemently argued, in the open; as if it is not easy for some twisted characters to tell their lies in the open.
These declarations without tangible evidence are not a salve but are acerbic in tone, leading in the long run to the decay of the moral fabric of society.
The moral fabric of society is a delicate piece of raiment that should be handled with utmost care, and as the Walls of Jericho were brought down by the armies of Joshua’s incessant shouts and trumpet blares, the very fabric of society can be rent to shreds by careless words disguised as messages to sectors of society.

It does not matter how evil a character may be, there is always the gracious little room that should be left at the back of the mind of the speaker or the writer that there is always the possibility of true redemptive change, a kind of change that may lead to the offender becoming or being re-taught to play a positive role in society.
Condemnation and dismissal of certain sectors as useless, or declaring the offenders as subhuman in the rhetoric that reaches the masses is, in the simplest of terms outright denial of our own capacity to reform and to change for the better from the murky depths of perdition.

Words are not mere words, for every word carries within itself a meaning whose potential to act as a positive salve or to be the crooked scythe of the Grim Reaper is limitless.
The messages in the letters in the postman’s bag were not from the onset meant to be delivered by him, but he finds the positive reason to deliver them despite their outdatedness, and their potential to instil mirth or sadness in the readers that will receive them and read of their contents.
The message is a message, and if sad, it inspires the members of society to gather like elephants around the bones of a comrade who is gone from the travails of the annual travail on the open savannahs and plains of the Serengeti.

If the message is full of the news of happiness, then celebrations full of mirth and merriment are bound to follow.  One cannot dictate the contents of the message he or she carries, they can only guard against bad intentions, and these are determined by the sense of virtue present in the messenger and postman. Though the tendency is to follow the trend, this should be avoided by the sensible writer who should rather focus on bringing out the positive in society.

Two world wars, endless civil wars and strife and famines across the world and the continent have proven how dangerous words can be oftentimes.
It is therefore wise for the writer to deliver messages of hope; for it steels faith and inspires the world to greater good; which we need more than we need seats of power or positions on pantheons of glory.  Watch that word, for it carries within it endless potential to mend or to rent the fabric of the quilt we need to cover against the cold winters of our age.

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