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Broken Clocks

I have a clock hanging in my living room above the fireplace.  I bought it about a year ago, unwrapped it, put a fresh battery in and hung it in place.  It didn’t take long to realize that the clock didn’t work.  Within a couple of hours the time was waaaaayyyyy off.  Even though it made the classic tick tock noises, looked like a clock and the hands moved like a clock it was clear that it didn’t keep time like a clock.

It’s possible that at that point I had far too much time to think and too many opportunities to enjoy several glasses of port or Irish whiskey while listening to Ross Neilsen.  I’m not sure exactly why but this clock become something more than just a broken clock for me.  It became a symbol and I leave it hanging there to remind me of something very important.

The clock is a metaphor for people in this world.  There is a line from a Ross Neilsen song: “even when them hands don’t wind, a broken clock is still a clock.”  The song is about a true event that happened a few years back here in Canada when a person with some serious mental health issues brutally killed someone on a Greyhound bus.  I’m not going to relay the story because it’s probably quite painful for many people to hear.  Anyway, the song made me think about how we treat others and how we make judgments of others based on what we see and based on how we expect other people to act (we usually expect them to act exactly like us).

As a whole, we are far too quick to judge without understanding other people.  We look at their “mistakes” and forget that they are people.  At the very core of everything, people should be treated like people yet we make judgments about others every day.  We write people off as broken without giving any thought to how they may have become “broken”.  It’s rare for us to think that perhaps rather than write them off, maybe we can do something to help them be less broken or perhaps even accept them as they are and try to understand and accept.  Maybe we can put more effort into seeing the good that even “broken” people can bring to the world.  Granted, there are many varying degrees of disrepair in people and maybe some are too far gone to roam safely in society.  That in itself should be enough to make us ask, “Am I helping to build the people around me or am I helping to break them?”

People often comment on my broken clock and ask why I would keep it if it doesn’t keep time.  After I explain, it becomes clear to most that purpose of the clock is far more important than helping me keep time.  It is a reminder that I need to be caring and compassionate.  It’s a reminder that I have a moral responsibility to give back to my community and that I have to do my part to build rather than break.  Sometimes a broken clock is more valuable than one that does what we expect it to do.

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