Sunday, January 15, 2017

Thoughts of two authors

I remember as a youth seeing Thornton Wilder's "Our Town." It left me with its profundity but it also left me with a feeling of sad foreboding as the characters of "Our Town" leave it in death one by one. In other words, all that one loves and with which one is familiar cannot be taken for granted as it will, one day, be taken from us including ourselves. I walked out of the theater as a youth chilled convincing myself that play surely did not apply to me. But it does apply to me and to everyone who is blessed for a short time to see this planet. The play teaches and provides us with a rule to take nothing for granted. Tell those whom you love that you love them while you can; try to forgive those you do not love if you are able. Our life says the 16th/17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbs is short. It is no less true today than it was then. Carpe diem Latin for seize the day says the Roman poet Horace (thank you, Wikipedia, for his name) and "do not ask for whom the bell tolls" says Ernest Hemingway. "It tolls for thee."

Ernest Hemingway in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" has much to say about war. In this book the Spanish Civil War at first imbues a sense of excitement for those who want to and will fight it for the glory of the cause as some, especially in the south, felt about entering the Civil War. Soon they learn the awful reality of war. In our time we see and fear war and yet it is still fought by some with a great joy of purpose and even as General James "Mad Dog" Maddis, soon to be Trump's Defense Secretary, talks about a sense of the joy he has for killing. Yes, he really said that. Hemingway avers quite the opposite that those who came into the war with a sense of ebullience soon lose it. The ebullience withers on the vine of violence and all the devastation it brings. How many signed up for the Iraq War with joy and patriotism only to be returned broken in body and spirit some returning in coffins of the dead. I rather subscribe to our Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman's edict that "War is Hell" which admonishes me to fight against ugly policy that convinces us to fight it and use all the powers of the written word I have to stop it.

No comments: