There’s plenty to write about this morning – if you haven’t yet made the rounds of the news sites, you’ll get there soon – and all of it is depressing as hell. The pols are doing what they always do, as are the left-wing loonies, the “private sector” grifters, the talking heads, and the corpodrones. And as a special introductory bonus for new Armageddon fans, we have a war in Israel. None of it really requires commentary from me or anyone else. So do your reading, draw your own conclusions, and do your best to stay out of it.
Instead of blathering in my usual style, I’ll tell you a little tale from long ago.
I’ve told the following story before. It isn’t mine, of course. Indeed, it might be the oldest story ever told, as it originates in Imperial China, possibly long before the birth of Christ. Yet, as is the case with all great stories, it tells us a mighty truth: one that makes life comprehensible…and livable.
The Emperor was troubled. His realm’s difficulties seemed to multiply and ramify with each passing day. His subjects automatically looked to him for succor. Yet there was seldom anything he could do to lighten their burdens. Worse still, knowledge of the misery and suffering that pervaded his nation was with him always, denying him any interval of peace.
He became desperate for relief of some kind. Yet what form might it take? He could not hide from his people’s difficulties. He could not forget them, even for a little while. Nor could he pretend that he possessed even a fraction of the power he would need to lessen them, much less to banish them.
He called to his throne the four greatest philosophers of his realm and pleaded for their aid. He described his anguish, laid bare its effects on him, and asked if any bit of wisdom they had unearthed in their lives of study and thought that might help him to meet his responsibilities. They agreed to confer over the matter, and to report back to him when they had reached a conclusion.
Weeks passed, and the Emperor’s agonies continued. Strive as he might, he could not make significant headway against the ailments his subjects laid before him. His anguish often threatened to cost him his life. He struggled on by sheer force of will.
But then there came to his palace a messenger with a hopeful message: The philosophers had reached the hoped-for conclusion. They had found the eternal truth in which the Emperor could find rest and peace. More, they had prepared from it an analgesic for his agonies of soul, and were transporting it to the palace at that very moment.
The Emperor’s heart leaped at the news. Had the wise men succeeded at last? Was there a bit of wisdom knowledge of which would renew his energies and refresh his soul? He could hardly wait for the philosophers to present him with their discovery.
On the next day the philosophers arrived with their gift to the Emperor: an obelisk of carved granite. They wheeled it into his throne room under a heavy cloth, and positioned it so that he could gaze upon it whenever he felt a need. When it was positioned just so, they pulled away the cloth, and the Emperor saw carved into the stone four ideograms that expressed the truth they had found:
And this, too, shall pass away.
And the Emperor, reminded of what he had always known yet had somehow forgotten, smiled, thanked the four thinkers, and resumed his labors for his people once more.
It’s true, isn’t it? All things must pass. Us, too. Our tenancy on this ball of mud is short. Some regard that as a tragedy. I don’t.
An old friend once caught me in mid-lament and said “Fran, do you realize how often you’ve been saying that?” It hauled me up short. For what had he caught me saying? Only this:
Gentle Reader, I was several years shy of forty at that time. I was at the peak of my powers, had become the leading light of my trade…and I felt terminally exhausted. On the verge of complete collapse. It took all my willpower to address even the lightest of my obligations.
There were several reasons for my torpor, none of which are relevant at this time. Objectively I was better off than 99% of the world’s population, but due to miscellaneous miseries I couldn’t focus on that. The point is only this: it passed. I revived, pulled out of my slump, and went on to even higher and better things.
That was half my life ago. Quite recently I caught myself saying something repeatedly: a different mantra, but equally ineffective:
And it’s true: I have. But chanting that in odd moments won’t make it go away.
There’s an entertaining and thought-provoking movie with a remarkably good cast, The Core, about an expedition to the Earth’s core after some military meddling has halted its rotation. That’s a disaster, as the rotation of the core generates the magnetic field that protects Earth from the full brunt of the solar and cosmic winds. One of the characters engaged in the attempt to restart the core’s rotation, Dr. Josh Keyes (played by Aaron Eckhart), is trending toward a meltdown from the weight of the responsibility, when another adventurer, Dr. Serge Leveque (played by Tchéky Karyo), provides Keyes with an antidote of sorts:
I came here to save my wife and my two children and… seven billion lives… it’s too much. I just hope I’m, I’m smart enough and brave enough to save three.
Ironically, Serge can’t save his wife and kids without saving the rest of Mankind. Nevertheless, his perspective protects him from the considerations threatening to overwhelm his friend.
American patriots generally need that sort of balm for their souls. What’s blared at us daily from a multitude of sources is enough to make many of us throw up our hands and say “God, I’m tired. I’ve had enough of this shit. I give up.”
And while that may be a part of why the media barrage us with so much gloom and doom every instant of every day, it’s quite possible that by an adjustment in perspective, we can keep it from wearing us down.
Have a brief citation from C. S. Lewis:
Then came blessed relief. He suddenly realized that he did not know what he could do. He almost laughed with joy. All this horror had been premature. No definite task was before him. All that was being demanded of him was a general and preliminary resolution to oppose the Enemy in any mode which circumstances might show to be desirable: in fact—and he flew back to the comforting words as a child flies back to its mother’s arms—“to do his best”—or rather, to go on doing his best, for he had really been doing it all along. “What bugbears we make of things unnecessarily!” he murmured, settling himself in a slightly more comfortable position. A mild flood of what appeared to him to be cheerful and rational piety rose and engulfed him.
Just recently, Divemedic had something heartening to say:
[Hillary Clinton] says that Trump supporters should be put into “reeducation camps.”
To the police and others who would be the ones enforcing this: Are you willing to die to take us to the camps? Because I am willing to die to stay out of them, and I will take as many of you with me as I can. I hope to make it as expensive as possible.
This sort of declaration is called a final offer. Once a man has sincerely made his final offer, he can relax. He knows what he’s prepared to do, and has accepted it. Perhaps he’ll be forced to cash it in, and perhaps not. What matters to him and those he loves is his emotional preparedness.
It’s been said, somewhat sarcastically, that the older you are, the less of a deterrent life in prison seems. There’s a certain amount of truth to that. We who’ve lived free and full lives can sincerely make Divemedic’s final offer for ourselves…and then relax. Once we’ve accepted the possibility of going down in a hail of gunfire, we no longer have to agonize about anything. Should the moment to cash in arrive, we can reap the honor guard to which we’re entitled by our preparations and marksmanship, and die with a smile. Our loved ones won’t have to put a coward’s bones in our graves.
Until this very morning – I had to read the news to get the full value of it – I hadn’t made my own final offer. It’s changed things for me, perhaps permanently. But then, the readiness to die for what one loves will always do that, won’t it?
I’m not about to tell you that it’s time for you to make your final offer. I have no idea what sort of life you’ve led, what your current travails might be, or how much humiliation, subjugation, and torture you should be willing to undergo for another year, or month, or minute of life. I’m simply citing the change in perspective available should you choose to draw your personal line and resolve to stand to it come what may.
That’s all I have this morning, Gentle Reader. My love and the love of God be yours, now and for eternity. For this too shall pass…and so shall we. Be not afraid. Have a nice day.