We happy few. We band of brothers and sisters too! Your time to do something.

Notes on the Sunday address by Dr Francis Macnab, 10 July 2016.
By John Abbate.


In this address, Dr Macnab places before us three iconic images of the “band of brothers.”

The first image is taken from the New Testament. Jesus is gathered with the apostles, save Judas, who shortly appears, greeting Jesus with a kiss. It is the signal for the Roman guards to arrest Jesus.

The second and third images both come from Shakespeare. In Julius Caesar, Caesar is betrayed by a conspiracy of Roman aristocrats intent on murder. Surrounding Caesar, the conspirators, one by one, drive their blades into him. The final, mortal wound is inflicted by Brutus, Caesar’s great friend. Julius Caesar’s famous last words: et tu, Brute? (“Brutus, you tou?”).

The third image gives us the origin of the term “band of brothers”, Shakespeare’s Henry V. King Henry’s pre-battle, St Crispin’s Day speech before his tired and outnumbered soldiers is one of the most rousing in English literature. Henry convinces his troops that their smaller number means a greater share of the honour, should they survive the day, and that, regardless of rank or social station, they will all become brothers, with each other, and with the king. “We happy few. We band of brothers.” (You can read the full speech here, or watch Olivier’s 1944 film version or Branagh’s more recent adaptation, which gives more context, on youtube).

With these three images in mind, Dr Macnab asks, What holds a band of brothers and sisters together?

* The warmth of a caring, empathic leadership

* Words of encouragement and inspiration

* Identification with an important cause

* Integration into an important, cohesive group

* Internalising the best values

* Intelligence of being alive and present to the moment

* Investing their involvement in something worthy of celebration

Dr Macnab goes on to discuss the factors that aid in therapeutic treatment, in prevention, recovery, hope and transformation:

* A good sense of self

* Learning the ways to turn destructive conflict to constructive pathways

* Having an articulate, intelligent philosophy of life; a good faith

* Keeping focus on the highest values

* Having good support groups and influences to help us focus

And finally, Dr Macnab introduces his four vital T’s, which we’ll hear more about in future addresses:

* Truth

* Trust

* The Turning point

* Transformation

It can take years, or a lifetime, to build up these vital T’s, yet one word or gesture, one mistake, can cause their loss. And getting them back may be difficult. “Faith must come into play,” said Dr Macnab. “Human goodness must be refound.”

Where is human goodness in the destructive global events of recent days? It takes faith to believe that destruction can be turned to constructive pathways, and that pain can be transformed into healing.

“You don’t need to believe a word that Jesus said,” said Dr Macnab, “but do watch his pointing finger, and ask the question, What was he pointing to? He was pointing to a light shining on the east wall of Mingary; he was pointing to a faith in our transformations. The human being can get set in its ways, but the pointing finger says, There is another way.”

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