"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Festival of Love, South Bank, London

Author : Steve


Yesterday evening I took an evening stroll along the South Bank of the Thames (a book club I'm a member of meets there every month, and I was early - a good chance to take in the glorious summer evening). I came across this wonderful festival.

The 'festival of love' explores seven kinds of love as described by the Ancient Greeks. It seems appropriate to explore the links to the divided families campaign :

Agape - the love of humanity - exhibited by human rights campaigners and other true humanitarians

Storge - family love - parents, children, brothers and sisters - many examples on this blog, and on this blog (Family Immigration Alliance), and in this book (Love Letters to the Home Office)

 Pragma - enduring love - love which endures weeks, months, even years of separation - exhibited by Skype families (Skype mummy - Skype papa) 

Philautia - self-respect - the dignity of those affected by injustice, standing up for their rights and for their families (demonstrate for the rights of British citizens!)  

Philia - shared experiences - lifelong friendships (EEA visa...EU free movement) formed in campaigning and mutual aid (I love my foreign spouse!)

Ludus - flirting, playful attraction (well, of course!)

Eros - romantic love (which crosses continents and oceans - spouses and civil partners)

Read about the seven kinds of love here :

Other aspects of the festival include -

Siege weapons of love : 'Giant pink inflatable cannons and a tank invite us to make love, not war' :
(Weapons of mass compassion - deeply Freudian!)

Love flags :
(I'm a vexillologist, so this appealed to my sense of flag aesthetics).

Temple of Agape :
A temple of unconditional love for the human race.

Love on the beach :

Tanabata decorations :

This is especially poignant...

Tanabata is a Japanese summer star festival, which has its origins in the Chinese festival/myth of Qixi. The most famous Tanabata festival is held in Sendai in August.

Pictures of the Sendai Tanabata festival.

Tanabata/Qixi concerns the stars Altair and Vega, which together with Deneb form the very prominent 'summer triangle' in the northern hemisphere summer sky : http://www.theguardian.com/science/2011/aug/14/starwatch-summer-triangle-planets

According to the myth, a weaver girl (who happened to be the daughter of the Sky King), and a cowherd fell in love. When he discovered the affair, the Sky King was angry and forbade them from meeting. They were banished to opposite sides of the river in the sky (the Milky Way).

They were only able to meet once a year, in summer, when a flock of magpies would take pity on the couple, and with their bodies would form a bridge across the river - uniting the weaver princess (Vega) with her cowherd (Altair).

The Milky Way as a bridge of birds : http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cascading_Milky_Way.jpg

Through the varying shapes of the delicate clouds, the sad message of the shooting stars, a silent journey across the Milky Way, one meeting of the Cowherd and Weaver amidst the golden autumn wind and jade-glistening dew, eclipses the countless meetings in the mundane world. The feelings soft as water, the ecstatic moment unreal as a dream, how can one have the heart to go back on the bridge made of magpies? If the two hearts are united forever, why do the two persons need to stay together—day after day, night after night?

There really isn't a better, more perfect analogy in folklore or literature for the plight of divided families.

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