‘Why should a man be thought a sort of idiot because he feels the mystery and peril of existence itself?’ asks Basil Grant about the Zulu tribe in The Club of Queer Trades. Precisely.
I have been reading a history of the development of the atomic bomb. Currently, I am twenty years of age. When he was twenty, Harry Truman held an every-day, boring job as a bookkeeper at the local bank. Just thinking about it now makes me almost wish I could go back in time and walk through that bank in order to jokingly suggest something to the bookkeeper. I would suggest to the bookkeeper that one day he might be president and that his very word would “confront several generations to come” (as Churchill put it). His reaction, I imagine, would be much akin to mine when someone makes a joke: he would laugh.
Of course, I express my wonder at Harry Truman’s biography in the same way I do at most anyone’s life. There are any number of people I would like to have had the chance to jokingly suggest things to (don’t you think so?). But, there is just something about WWII that particuarly sickens me. Just entertaining an internal discussion about the subject is difficult, as are all things unpleasant. I can handle your everyday, depressing war. But, whatever it was, World War II was not that.
And, thinking about WWII, the leaders involved, and everything that goes with it, got me to thinking about how life is to be lived in large part in fear. That is the grand thing about the mystery of Christianity. “All flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.” That is the grand thing about conservatism and limited government. The freedom to aspire is nothing if it is not perilous. The lucidity of secularism and scientific materialism does nothing but bore me. They are silly religions for silly, boring people.
All this talk about healthcare is astounding. “People die” the Democrat cries to the C-SPAN audience of political-junkies. There is no truer statement I suppose. But, if the argument goes something along the lines of (and I think it does) thinking that a forfeit of freedom is worth making men equally dead, I counter with yet another G.K. Chesterton quote: “I know of nothing that is safe except, possibly — death.”
Existence itself is dangerous. It is dangerous to say: “I am going to endeavor to pursue happiness.” It is safe to say: “I am going to endeavor to collect welfare.” Failure is Christian. Bailouts are pagan.
In other words, be Zulu. Be afraid of devils in the dark.