Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Greater love hath no man . . .

Secular humanists are continually tempted to see virtue and civilization as a manifestation of enlightened self-interest. As the Avenue Q song goes: "When you help others, you can't help helping yourself." In this pro-social, non-violent view of the Cosmos, we give freely to help others, feeling good about it and reaping the rewards of reciprocity. Modern environmentalism is founded on this attitude: "Don't destroy the earth, because you're destroying your own home."

Memorial Day calls us to a very different moral view of the universe. This is a world where all is not sweetness and light, and not all conflicts are resolved by dialog and diplomacy. Conflicts are real, and real people are called upon to struggle and fight. And there is more than mere sharing . . . there is sacrifice.

Try, just for a moment, to release all your filters for overblown nationalistic rhetoric, and just try to grok the notion that someone, a real person, actually died so that you can live your life as you do now. Someone actually voluntarily gave up their future happiness, deprived their children of a parent, deprived their spouse of a mate, in order to make this cultural experiment possible. Pick anyone at random in your life: a coworker, a friend. Kenny Felder. Now imagine that person gone, blasted off the face of the planet, because they wanted you to have a life worth living. Just let the reality of that sacrifice sink in for a moment. Don't even bother trying to multiply it by a thousand, a million . . . your mind will not contain it. Just think about that one person who gave up everything for you.

Since the beginning of time, martyrdom has been recognized as a miraculous event. The cynical will see it as madness. Many will see it as misguided or stupid . . . which, oftentime, I suppose it is. (Suicide bombers provide a continual reminder that not everyone who dies willingly necessarily died for a good reason.) But sometimes it is a manifestation of genuine transcendence. Somebody literally loved something more than life itself. May we all love so much, to live, and perhaps to die, for something beyond ourselves.


Blogger Kenny Felder said...

Very beautiful, Georg (and I'm not just saying that because you killed me off...) Well said.

1:33 PM  

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