Sunday, October 26, 2008

Those only learn who suffer

Justice so moves that those only learn
who suffer; and the future
you shall know when it has come ...
All will come clear in the next dawn's sunlight.

-- Aeschylus,

If all goes as it is widely predicted, a little over two months from now The Chosen One, attired in royal purple that burns a hole in the air against January's gray skies, will mount his throne.

The crowd will cheer. The internationalists and appeasers who imagine every threat can be neutralized with dialogue. The leftists who believe the role of the State is to rule very nearly everything. The academics and journos for whom eloquent sophistry is the singular sign of greatness. The bureaucrats licking their chops at the prospect of millions of new dependent clients. The souls lost to God who imagine that Hope can be delivered by a man.


Lately I have thought often of St. Augustine, which is odd, because it was many years ago that I read his Confessions, and have forgotten most of it. Living in the fourth and fifth century, Augustine saw firsthand at Milan and Rome a civilization that had lost its way and its will to live. The European-American era that eventually arose from the blasted ruins of Greece and Rome seems now to be in a similar condition. The Chosen One is perfectly cast to assist at its dissolution, being acclaimed by a populace that does not believe in the virtues of the West, longing for a Great Leader to ease the transition to whatever ideology -- Marxism, Islam, nihilism -- claims it most quickly and aggressively.

Augustine converted to a new faith -- new to him, although it had been around for centuries -- and went back to his home in North Africa, where he did the work of a world outside of time, of the time that had savaged the heritage of ages.

There will be someone else in the crowd that gathers to shout the praises of The Chosen One. That person will most likely be far in the back of the throng, scarcely noticed. You might not even recognize him or her. It could be your brother or sister, your friend, or a complete stranger. Or yourself.

That person, not the one on the throne, will be a carrier of hope: the hope that is only to be found within, not in the schemes of the State; in the heart and spirit, not in futile attempts to create a heaven of this world. Perhaps those who sing hosannas to The Chosen One will soon learn through suffering that the perfect society is a nightmare, not a dream. That individuals must inspire institutions, not the other way around. That those who sell the liberty and culture, so dearly bought, for the sake of a charlatan's promises will be paid only in suffering.

Perhaps the crowd will then listen to other voices, now so anonymous, so hidden.

Not all will come clear: it never does in our human condition. But enough to welcome the next dawn's sunlight.



David Foster said...

Excellent writing, Rick, even better than usual.

Anonymous said...

I agree with David - you were moved in writing this piece. I especially like the idea of The One easing the transition to whatever ideology will follow. I recommend an excellent essay in The Brussels Journal on the subject of the new "pod people."

It's funny, I've always loathed Augustine, Christian martyrs and apologists, seeing myself as the heir of Augustus, Claudius and Julian, not the hooded, life-negating men of primitive Christianity. I think it's now safe to say that there is an analogy between what primitive Christianity represented in the ancient world and what Islam represents today. I know my Christian friends find that notion simplistic and stupid. I don't. Reading Vols. 4-5 of Gibbon's History after reading Livy and Caesar is like reading about what has transpired after 9/11 and comparing it to WWII America. Simply put: terrorism has worked. On the NYC subways there are now adds for Islam: "why Islam? Go to for answers." I can't believe this is may actually happen.

I'm blue in face saying this: Europe has a better chance of surviving than America. This country is already a third world morass. After Obama, it's over.

Rick Darby said...


Much appreciated.


I have mixed feelings about Augustine and the Church Fathers. My sympathies are more with the neo-Platonists and gnostics that the church assiduously stamped out.

The analogy I was trying to make, though, was that Augustine understood that the City of Man was subject to decay and ruin. He chose instead to try to live in, and lead others to, the City of God.

It's too early to say "Game over" for Western civilization, and those of us who admire it (despite its various historical faults) need to pay our dues by doing what we can to preserve it. But we and those who follow us may have to do the preservation work against a background of collapse, even a new Dark Ages. And many of us will need to draw strength from the world of Spirit.

No, it doesn't look good for Obamaland. But unlike the Muslims, we do not believe the future is written. Despair is not worthy of us.

Anonymous said...

I agree, and I do not despair. I simply allowed a bad rain day on crowed train get to me. Wherever there such be light, I welcome it. If some find it Church, I welcome. I'll read Homer and take up arms next to them.

Also, reading Gibbon has a certain effect on one.