So if you think about it, or as I see it, there are as many tests as you want to see.

Some folks will never really encounter ‘a test’ as to them it is either just something that has happened and they need to get on with it. Or they will see it as an opportunity to grow and develop. Whereas others will view even the most basic inconvenience as something to endure.

So how can we define a test? 

Perhaps the first way to categorise them would be to use past, present and future, another way could be personal or private, family and community including wider global issues. Then there are always ethical and moral dilemmas and lastly you could be in the midst of a combination of any of the above, which is usually the case. Rarely are we chewing over one knotty problem without having to consider a side issue or two. These are all based on practical or earthly issues and the emotions they evoke.

How we manage these ‘tests’ is down to many things; our past experiences, our family upbringing and our environment.

Perhaps we should explore some tests, some are real and some are a combination of experiences and events. All are set out in a way to help you to reflect on the ways in which you and those around you manage testing times.

So today let’s go back in time, to our school days. The happiest days of our lives, a series of tests interspersed with good times or a living nightmare?

Bullying has been ever-present since schools were first invented I imagine. My father who was born in 1932 often tells me he was either smacked or had the cane every day of his school life from start to when he left at fourteen. During this time his father died of kidney disease, he contracted diphtheria resulting in a stay in an isolation hospital. At the age of 9, he lost an eye due to a failed operation. All this was with the backdrop of World War 2 and his mother bringing up two children as a single parent.  

Today he would have had counsellors, support workers and teaching assistants nurturing him at every twist and turn, ensuring he was emotionally well enough to be in school and concentrate on his education. Instead, he was punished for being the class fool who did not know how to spell and wore thick jam jar glasses.

I would like to think that the teachers doling out such arbitrary punishments did so out of their own ignorance of childhood trauma, rather than relishing in beating small boys into submission and enjoying watching them squirm in pain and embarrassment. Sadly, history tells us that there was likely a few in both categories.

Did my father see all this as a test? Definitely not, he just got on with it. School was an inconvenience in an otherwise busy and exciting childhood. Dodging the village bobby was a sport and even if he caught you doing mischief it was a stout kick up the backside and another one from my nan too if she found out.

It was easy to earn money in their rural community; working on the land, helping out at the stables and doing odd jobs for people. Communities were close-knit and supportive, there was a large extended family and patriarchy and duty meant that the wealthy generously supported those they considered as worthy and deserving.

In addition, the work ethic was strong, it was a privilege to bring home a wage and hand it over to go into the family pot. This is an ethos that my father lived by; the importance to provide for his family and ensure they had all the basic needs and one that he passed onto his children.

Fast forward to the classroom of today, testing has a whole different meaning. Measuring, examining, grading, wonderful for high achievers, those who thrive on memorising facts and figures, easy for those whose parents have the time and patience to tutor and coach or even perhaps pay someone else to do that for them. Not so good for those who can’t spell, struggle with 7 x 8 and whose writing is like a spider’s footprints running across the page. 

Today there are no benevolent neighbours to help out when things get tough, and trouble with the police will inevitably result in a caution or worse. It is harder to be resilient, to pass the tests both in school and in life. The only role models are footballers and pop stars, gamers and influencers. I didn’t even know what an influencer was until a few weeks ago, and how does a thirteen-year-old get 1.5 million followers? Shouldn’t she be in school?

So what does the future hold for them, for our children, and their children? Will things go full circle as we have seen throughout history or will we be the masters of our own demise? Each nation-state has it’s own agenda, as does each province, county, town or village. All trying to govern its inhabitants when conversely each inhabitant of every nation-state is steadfastly working to their own agendas.

There has been much written and spoken about in recent times about how things are changing. How we are being tested in preparation for the dawn of a new age.  How we are becoming more spiritual, the vibrations are increasing and many people are becoming more aware of what may be waiting for us in the future if we just open our hearts and our minds. 

This is in many ways enlightenment, something that those of us who are spiritually aware resonate with, those who embrace the oneness of the universe and all that it involves. The question though has to be; what about those who aren’t interested, those with the strong head down get on with it work ethic and those who have no interest in anything unless it involves social media. To say we just leave them behind totally misses the point in my opinion.

How can we reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable? 

Is time running out? Tik Tok…………..

Heather Wood

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  1. What strikes me about the past is not how little people knew – but how much.

    The nature of tests does evolve over the years, and there are certainly fewer physical tests, and more mental ones.

    Yet the fundamental tests we face are eternal, and enduring. Right and wrong, forgiveness and revenge, damnation and redemption, love and hate, courage and cowardice.

    I recall some twenty years ago, a knifeman, out of nowhere, attacked a member of staff in an office, in which I was the only male there. I saw the blade at her throat with him on top of her. I ran to the door to the street, a very bust High Street normally awash with traffic wardens and police. This time there were none. I recall standing on the threshold, safety one side, mortal danger the other. I thought of my wife and three young children, I thought of three young female office workers whom I knew well.

    A million thoughts crossed my mind in a millionth of a second. I went back in and disarmed him. I could just as easily have run. I was called brave, but I was in equal part coward. No rational decision was made. Ever since, I have never thought badly of those labelled cowards, it is in us all. Fortunately, it is rarely put to the test.

    My generation in the UK , the post ww2 one, have been fortunate. For seventy five years life has been relatively smooth. I do think that Covid 19 represents a test. It challenges the national borders prized by Brexit and Trump. It challenges the individual’s rights of freedom of movement, versus society’s right to be well. It challenges the price we are prepared to accept in deaths to have a functioning economy. It challenges our belief that all lives are equal when overwhelmed medical staff may have to make terrible choices.

    The worst is yet to come. Mass Covid 19 driven unemployment, a shrinking economy, a way of life gone. Shortages of goods which have not been produced. Food riots. A Brexit which now seems horribly out of sync with the times.

    Tests by the barrel load await. Those wedded to materialism will find it difficult. Those looking within may surprise themselves.
    Gary Longden

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