Probably the noise of conflicting voices has gone up because of Covid, with the still unsorted problems it has thrown us. “Cacophony” is a nice word to capture that sense of many people speaking together while not necessarily listening to each other. “Harmony” seems to have been put on the back burner.
Always on the lookout for an image or an experience, I went to my favourite London gallery, The National Gallery, last week and found the very image I was after. An image of people taking their eye off the ball, of getting lost in things other than the big issues of the moment.
The painting I refer to must be one of the greatest in The National Gallery, and it’s called The Adoration of the Golden Calf. It shows Moses throwing down the tablets that he has been given by God on Mount Sinai. He is angry and outraged because, whilst he’s been getting on with the business of the future of his people, these people have melted down their gold jewellery and made a golden calf to worship.
Irrespective of political complexion we need to get Covid behind us
I have looked at Nicolas Poussin’s painting on so many occasions and never miss a chance to see it when in The National. It always seems to tell a story about energies placed in the wrong direction, and the weakness of human beings who get lost on the small and ignore the big.
Of course one could, if one wanted to be too biblically literal, ask who our current Moses is that is leading us out of the House of Bondage? I shudder at awarding this role to anyone at the moment. Clear thinking seems to be going through a thin time.
But probably it is the competing voices, the on and off-ness of discussions about what direction to take, that is most disturbing. The dismissing of the essential problem we need to face: that Covid and its damage are still washing over us and still trying us. We are not out of the woods, and clarity is not apparent. Hence for the moment we don’t seem to have a Moses to help us through this difficult time.