The Future in our Hands

The future in our hands is a butterfly we can nurture or crush.

The future in our hands illustrated my Michelangelo's Hand od God

Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel

My hands have a mind of their own. They draw on memory and experience to press the keys that spell the words you read with your eyes and transfer to your brain to unscramble, savour, counter and store.

Hands find the light switch in the dark. They find the itch that needs to be scratched. They remember telephone numbers and codes. The hands on the clock never stop. They tick off time, measure our days. Hands are like the winds and tides, rarely still. We may share our mother’s eyes and our father’s nose, but our palms and fingerprints are unique. It is where destiny is written.

Hands make us human. Our relatives, the monkeys and apes, lack the agile thumbs and sensitive fingers Michelangelo required for carving the David, Picasso in painting Guernica, John Lennon playing Imagine.

The piano requires ten fingers, but a solitary digit can pick out blame, point at the villain. You can give someone you don’t like the finger. Or two. Didn’t a little Dutch boy stick his finger in a dyke to save Holland from flooding? 

Many hands make light work. Busy hands never get into trouble (unless they get caught picking someone’s pocket). You can offer a hand to be shaken. Clean hands inspire confidence, just as getting your hands dirty is never a good idea.

Hands of Fate

Bananas come in hands. Packs of cards are dealt in hands. The Good Samaritan lent a helping hand to a stranger. Those without hearing or speech sign with curling fingers and swirling hands.

After a fight, men will give five, slap palms, shake hands. Or kill each other. Stories are best told first-hand. Sometimes I buy clothes from the Oxfam shop second-hand. But never shoes. 

I recall that day in Athens when I tasted the taste of olive oil and the hand of God tapped me on the shoulder.

Flamenco dancers beat out duende rhythms with cupped clapping hands. Audiences bring their palms together to show appreciation. Hands fold in prayer. Hands wave to say good bye. Cupped hands take water from the river’s flow.

The hand on the wheel and the hand at the tiller guide us. A bosun’s whistle calls all hands on deck. Masons and magicians treasure secret handshakes. Politicians and corporate bosses are hand in glove. Hand in the till. No uninvited hand should touch the King.

In Bob Dylan’s song Motorpsycho Nightmare, a weary traveller arrives at an isolated farmhouse and asks if he can bed down there for the night. The farmer is suspicious of the traveller’s tale but agrees on becoming aware that ‘… by the dirt ‘neath my nails I guess he knew I wouldn’t lie…’

Future’s Hand

The surgeon in latex gloves delivers new life. Strangler’s mitts reach for unsuspecting windpipes. The hand that rocks the cradle can carry a gun. The future in our hands is as slippery as the word of a politician running for office. The future in our hands is a roll of the dice. The toss of a coin. If the future in our hands is a block of ice it is slowly melting.

Pontius Pilate washed his hands after the trial of Jesus. Oedipus with his bare hands ripped out his own eyes when he learned that he had killed his father and married his mother. Robert Oppenheimer wrung his hands when he looked out over the New Mexico desert after the test explosion of the first atomic bomb. He quoted from the Bhagavad Gita: Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.

The future in our hands is fragile. If we decide to take ourselves to nothingness, a fingertip is all that’s required to press the red button.

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