The other day I was listening to a talk by author Rod Dreher who, in discussing the contempt for suffering in our contemporary culture, brought up this excerpt from chapter 17 of Aldous Huxley’s book Brave New World:
“But I like the inconveniences.”
“We don’t,” said the Controller. “We prefer to do things comfortably.”
“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”
“In fact,” said Mustapha Mond, “you’re claiming the right to be unhappy.”
“All right then,” said the Savage defiantly, “I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”
“Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen to- morrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.” There was a long silence.
“I claim them all,” said the Savage at last.
Twitter has a character limit – by which I do not mean the 160 maximum characters allowed in a Twitter bio nor the 280 maximum characters allowed in a tweet.
Of course I mean to highlight the limits we find in bio blurbs and tweets when it comes to revealing anything substantive about a person’s actual character from a moral standpoint.
However, it is not the circumscribed brevity that leads to the omission of character.
The case in point for this for me came from reading Martin Mosebach’s The 21: Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs.
In the chapter titled, “With the Martyrs’ Families”, Mosebach recounts travelling to visit the homes of the families of the Coptic Christians who were martyred by Islamists on the coast of Libya in 2015.
These poor Egyptian Christian martyrs did not have Twitter accounts. In fact, Mosebach gives us a sense of their lifestyle by indicating that these men didn’t sleep on sheets, didn’t have bathtubs, and were likely acquainted with fleas and lice.
It was on this date six years ago that Islamists beheaded 21 Coptic Christians along the beach in Libya.
I have been thinking about this all day and remembering the video footage that is seared in my memory.
What difference is it making?
What does the martyrdom of these Copts have to do with us today?
To this question, I found an extraordinary piece published today by Lord David Alton.