Not “Would You Die for That?” but “Would You Live for It?”

Much has been written this week about the Miracle at Dunkirk, where the fate of the British Expeditionary Force was placed in the hands of the civilian boatmen of mostly southeastern England, back in 1940 after the debacle of the Battle of France. In not much of a spoiler, with heroic support from Royal Navy light forces, and the Royal Air Force, they saved 300,000 + men to fight another day. As most will know, many of the soldiers and many of the rescuers died, heroically, their face to the enemy. They stood for something, in the face of death, and that is why we celebrate them. My Scandinavian forebearers, who knew a bit about small boats in the open ocean would have called them Sagamen, men who were worth immortalizing, as an example of what we want to be. And so they were.

But for so many of us, this movie is so worth celebrating because it marks a return to what we grew up with, not completely, perhaps. [I haven’t seen it, just can’t convince myself to drive 300 miles one way to see a movie, but I will see it.] But it is again about those men, and in this case, they were men, and white British men at that, dying heroically for something beyond themselves. We don’t celebrate that enough anymore. After millennia as the foundation of our civilization, living for something, let alone dying for it, beyond our individual wants has become passé, or so our elites say.

As he often does, our own Fr Robert, in comments on the other day’s article about Sweden, asked this.

Just more material about the whole moral and spiritual loss in Europe, and now in unlikely places! Sad, very sad! Once again the word Apostasy comes to mind! Just where is the moral and spiritual force of European and historical, biblical Christianity?

I didn’t then, and don’t now, have the answer for him. But I wish I did. Anna Mussmann writing in The Federalist begins to define the problem.

Dutch politicians are considering changing euthanasia laws so that healthy people can die whenever they want. In an interview, the leader of the political party that introduced the bill said, “You didn’t ask to be brought into the world,” and explained that his party’s goal is to make euthanasia freely available to all.

The idea that death is a human right is gaining traction in the U.S., too. In fact, arguments that we should kill terminally ill infants are respectable enough for the New York Times. […]

Sadly enough, it is true. That leaves me with the question, “If you die for little or no reason, does that mean your life as well was of little import?” I fear the answer for many is, “Yes.”

After speaking of Scott and Amundsen’s race for the pole in 1911, she asks why we lionized Scott, who failed, and died, even beyond Amundsen, who succeeded.

After all, generations of British and American schoolchildren were reared on stories of the Spartans at Thermopylae, Joan of Arc, Nathaniel Hale, and, later, Martin Luther King Jr. Children were expected to learn virtue by seeing that courage transcends death, and that material prosperity is a poor fig in comparison to patriotism, faith, and self-sacrifice.

Yes, those educators of the nineteenth and early twentiety centuries sometimes demonstrated a weakness for sappy moralism. [And often rather purple prose!] At the same time, however, they understood that the way we view death shapes the way we view life. […]

The moral imperative to guide our own fate means that, most of all, we must never continue to experience suffering we cannot control. Ultimately, life is worthwhile only within the narrow parameters of our own happiness and success. This sad way to look at the world is also an opportunity.

We can talk to our neighbors about the differences between taking life and giving it up. Admiration of suicide and murder is unnatural. It isn’t entirely new—plenty of decadent cultures in the past also developed cultures of death—but it is still an aberration against natural law. In contrast, the sacrifice of martyrdom is something that tends to speak to even the most hardened soul. Even the bloodthirsty mobs of ancient Rome found their views of Christianity influenced by the sight of Christian martyrs in the arena.

The thing is, a willingness to give up life in all its sweetness is about far more than death. It is a witness that life is defined by something much bigger than ourselves or our circumstances. It is a witness to hope in eternal life. It is something our neighbors need to hear about.

Here’s a truth for you.

Some things are assuredly worth dying for: Faith, some of our countries, our families, there are some that you may believe that are different than those I do. They are also worth living for, even if your life is not optimal. But no rational creature, ever, anywhere, thought that because he thought somewhat differently about sex than his neighbors, he should kill himself. If anything that is a natural working out of Darwin’s Law, and the culling of the weak. Not that it isn’t real as Hell, itself. Back in the day, I had a few rounds of depression, and if I hadn’t had some really good friends…well, only God knows. But I didn’t really care, either way.

Strikes me that we’ve hit right into the midst of what used to be clichés, and for a reason. Starting with, If you are willing to die for something, are you also willing to live for it? And continuing on through to the one that I repeat so often –

If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.

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About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

8 Responses to Not “Would You Die for That?” but “Would You Live for It?”

  1. And sadly now we are seeing something of the death of Europe, at least the Europe of two World Wars, and the Cold War! Victories lost morally & spiritually now! As a Brit it makes me cry, literally! But yes, let us remember the Dunkirk of 1940! Lord have mercy!

    Liked by 2 people

    • NEO says:

      Always a profitable time spent, remembering those who died that others may live. They are who we emulate, if we are wise. Lord have mercy, indeed.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Amen! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Boudica2015.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. the unit says:

    Ah, depression. I take it you’ve at some time earlier considered ending it all. Well, I have before at times on more than one occasion. Not in the last several years, really good many. I think lots of people do, but it’s not something talked about as who wants to admit it. 🙂
    Now Obamacare architect Dr. Zeke Emanuel, brother of Chicago mayor Rahm, says that’s what old folks need treatment for, not for heart attacks, strokes, and such. Humm…I’m said to be pretty old and I’m suffering less these days from depression. Zeke said 75 is old enough for him to live, but he reserves the right to change his mind if and when he gets there. By then… if the State will let him of course. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Yep, the older I get, the less it happens, at least seriously. I have my days, but nothing like it used to be. 🙂

      I expect I’ll be satisfied when I get called home, not in any hurry though, although I suppose if I was bedridden or in serious pain it might change my outlook, but I don’t know, life is pretty wonderful. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        Yep. Was always glad the next day I didn’t jump. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yepper! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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