23 June 2013


I erred today. "To err is human; to forgive, divine"

The English poet Alexander Pope penned this line in his work, "An essay on criticism". This was a very long-winded work which I have started a couple of times but have never finished. 

I may some day.

In "An essay on criticism" Pope was expressing his thoughts on critics and other poets and writers of his time. It is a rather bitter and lengthy piece of writing, 

Alexander wrote this more than 300 years ago. Pope didn't actually coin the term, "To err is human". It is an English translation of a much older Latin proverb. "Errare humanum est". Pope just added the "To forgive, divine" bit.

There are a couple of other fairly well known lines from Pope's "An essay on criticism". These are, "A little learning is dangerous" and "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread". He was a bit of a legend.

It is not a bad word. Err. I like it. The Latin "errare" meant to wander or go astray. It is also the verb form of the word 'error' which pretty much means the same thing. It is also an often and commonly used type of pausing word or a response when someone says something to you and you don't quite no how to respond. You say 'Err".

This is how I erred today.

I was out in the mayhem of the Orchard Road shopping district today. I was sitting outside having a cool drink and a cigarette when a young Singaporean man approached me. He reached out to give me a plastic flower and he told me, "Jesus loves you"

I was sipping the last of my lime juice when he approached me and my initial verbal response was "Err". So I erred. My mental response was, "Argh". I do not like being confronted by random Christians.

I noticed that there were a cluster of young Singaporeans wandering around the area and all of them were clutching plastic flowers. They were handing them out to passers by and to people like me who were sitting down in the smokers area. They were all attired the same in plain black trousers, black shoes and bright orange tee-shirts upon which were emblazoned the words "JESUS LOVES YOU". Front and back and in black bold lettering. They were all bespectacled and looked to be very clean-cut and blissfully happy Singaporeans. My best guess was that they were a Christian movement as they were all saying "Jesus loves you" as they were handing out their plastic flowers.

I had a cigarette in one hand and my near finished cup of lime juice in the other so I couldn't really accept the flower from the chap who approached me. I smiled an "Hello" though.

"Jesus loves you", the young man repeated and he again thrust the plastic flower towards me

"I am not sure that he does" I responded.

I refused to drop either my cigarette or my lime juice to accept the flower.

"He does lah" the smiling Singaporean repeated.

"How do you know lah?" I enquired.

"He loves us all"

"All of us?" I asked.

"He loves us all" the bespectacled Singaporean beamed.

"He loves Kim Jong Un and Bashar Al-Assad?"

"All of us"

"And he loves evil people like pedophiles and rapists and murderers?" I persisted.

"Yes" the young fella asserted although he didn't sound so assured anymore.

"And he loved Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, Hosni Mubarak, John Cameron, Julia Gillard and George Bush?" I continued - reeling off the first few evil dictators that came to mind.

I was beginning to enjoy myself a bit now.

The poor young fellow withdrew the hand holding the flower now and he gave me a blank stare. This is a fairly common response in Singapore that I am quite used to.

"I met Jesus a couple of weeks ago you know" I told the stunned Singaporean Christian. I wanted to add a little to his state of bewilderment. I did actually meet a guy named Jesus. I wrote about this in a piece I titled, "Jesus and the Thunderbolts"

"You met Jesus?" the young fellow asked. His tone and expression was one of mixed wonderment and uncertainty.

"I did" I asserted.

"We had a coffee and a smoke at Starbucks in Novena and we watched a thunderstorm together. He told me that the correct pronunciation of his name was 'Yaysoos' but he didn't mention anything about loving me". 

This is all true. I did meet a Mexican guy whose name was Jesus. We talked a bit about lightning and thunderstorms in Singapore but he definitely did not mention anything that suggested that he loved me. I would have remembered this.

The poor young guy seemed a little baffled by my comments so he moved onto a rather gruff looking western fella who was also smoking a cigarette and was sitting a few meters down from me.

I watched the young Christian Singaporean endeavor to hand his plastic flower to this bloke. He said "Jesus loves you" to him and I nearly choked on the remainder of my lime juice when the man grabbed the plastic flower from the nice young man's hand and threw it to the ground. He told the poor Christian boy to "Fuck off" in a very loud voice. He said this in a broad cockney English accent so it sounded more like "Fook off".

I didn't think that this was called for. I also doubted very much that Jesus would love him after such an act. Neither the Jesus referred to in the Bible not the Mexican bloke that I shared a coffee and a cigarette with in Starbucks a couple of weeks ago.

I stubbed my cigarette out and as I walked past the rude Cockney bastard I paused and stooped and picked up the plastic flower and I tucked it behind my ear.

"Jesus will never love you" I remarked as I walked away.

"You fuck off an all" he said to me.

I just laughed and continued on.

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