Pursue Peace Anyway

Usually, on the anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, I like to re-read what ended up being his final speech.

He began:

Permit me to say that I am deeply moved. I wish to thank each and every one of you, who have come here today to take a stand against violence and for peace. This government, which I am privileged to head, together with my friend Shimon Peres, decided to give peace a chance–a peace that will solve most of Israel’s problems.

I was a military man for 27 years. I fought so long as there was no chance for peace. I believe that there is now a chance for peace, a great chance. We must take advantage of it for the sake of those standing here, and for those who are not here–and they are many.

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You (don’t) only live once

This evening I was contemplating the frantic modern aphorism YOLO – you only live once – in juxtaposition with today’s psalm (Psalm 90) which says, “So teach the number of our days, so that we shall acquire a heart of wisdom.”

The verse that I found most striking from this psalm, however, is this one: “Cause us to rejoice according to the days that You afflicted us, the years that we saw evil.”

Rashi’s commentary offers: “Cause us to rejoice in the days of our Messiah according to the number of days that You afflicted us in the exiles and according to the number of years that we experienced evil.”

Or, in other words: Redeem whatever time we spent not truly living. As many days as were sorrowful, give us glorious ones.

How natural is it to pray: As many days as we lived during the pandemic, give us in health and freedom and adventure.

Sometimes we don’t only live once. Sometimes we live affliction, then rejoicing. Sometimes we live exile, then return. Sometimes we live desolation, then hope.

Sometimes everything that wasn’t truly living can be somewhat redeemed, even in this life.

And when that happens, it’s like living (at least) twice.

Exile as a Living Death

A friend of mine recently shared with me about how the Roman poet Ovid described exile as a living death.

This friend has also written a splendid essay reflecting on her own experience of ostracization due to cancel culture in the light of the broader tradition of our civilization.

In it, she writes:

Yet, while I don’t mean to downplay the pain of the experience, this may also be the greatest blessing of exile: it is a social murder, a death within life, which forces us into confrontation with our own finitude. If the goal of philosophy is to learn how to die, then there is no better way to practice it. Stripped of all illusions and pretense, the petty dust of life can sometimes give way to a lucid clarity. In exile, we are made to remember our true homes, while we still have time make ourselves worthy of returning there.

This is one of the best pieces I have read on cancel culture and is an excellent example of empirical and existential political theory.

Go check out Caylan Ford’s piece “They Can’t Cancel Your Soul” in the American Mind by clicking here.

Painting: “Dante in Exile” by Domenico Peterlini

The Martyr Saints of China

July 9th is the feast day of the Chinese Martyrs.

It was October 2000 when Saint Pope John Paul II canonized 120 martyrs in China. As Alejandro Bermudez noted in his recent piece, “87 were Chinese laypeople and 33 were missionaries.”

Bermudez says, “The feast is an occasion for the Chinese Catholic diaspora, and for the Universal Catholic church as a whole, to pray for Christians currently persecuted in Communist China, especially those Catholics who despite being a minority in Hong Kong, constitute the backbone of the freedom movement and are currently being jailed such as Catholic convert Jimmy Lai, owner of the pro-democracy paper Apple News; or those forced to exile, like pro-democracy Catholic leader Joseph Cheng.”

In his homily, John Paul II said the, “martyrs are an example of courage and consistency to us all, and that they honour the noble Chinese people.”

The stories of these modern martyrs are captivating and it is important for them to become accessible and familiar so to bolster the faith and tenacity of Christians and people of good will worldwide.

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