When my wife Tamara was reading H Is For Hawk by Helen MacDonald, the story of the author’s life with a goshawk, she asked me whether I knew the meaning of the word, creance, which she had read about in the book.
I didn’t but I guessed that it might mean the act of behaving well. I guessed it from miscreant, which is the name of course for someone who does wrong.
Tamara told me that a creance is the long piece of cord that a trainer uses to maintain control of a hawk in training.
It got me thinking that there may be a connection with miscreant, so I looked up the etymology of the word.
And it turns out that a micreant is not only a wrongdoer but also someone who lacks faith.
And creance, which originated in the late 15th century comes from the French word créance which mean ‘faith’ – and describes the cord used to retain a bird of peu de créance – of little faith – a bird which cannot yet be relied upon to return to its handler.
In the 1980s, the then Prime Minister famously declared that there is no such thing as society. She encouraged a free-for-all so that people would claw themselves higher. Of course, it came at the expense of ordinary working people who were not very good at clawing.
They didn’t have the advantage of money or power or friends in the right places.
They were simply consigned to the rubbish heap.
How can anyone expect people to care when the society is run by self-seekers? People aren’t stupid – they know when they are being robbed blind.
And the dominance of big business doesn’t help to make anyone feel they are a meaningful member of society.
Yes, it is for each person to bear responsibility for their personal actions and to behave ethically no matter what they see around them – or at least to do so as much as possible.
But responsibility and allegiance are not the same – and people are trying to survive in the cracks left in the framework of a system that doesn’t care about them.
People will put up with a lot when they know that they share the burden with everyone. But when social and economic justice are absent – anyone will question why he or she should owe allegiance to anything.