Monday, March 28, 2005

The Spread of a Lovely Madness

Although I can't tell how excited to get about massive democracy demonstrations like these latest ones in Taiwan, Bahrain and Mongolia, I'm certainly aware that democracy is a process and not an event as some pundit so eloquently put recently (I think it was Michael J. Totten). I do know I find this kind of thing far more interesting and meaningful than any one person's life or death, or molestation trial, or divorce, or whatever. I'm kind of tired of the focus on the individual that seems to pervade American culture these days.

I recently read a short, fantastic book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of The Little Prince, who was a very interesting guy and an amazing writer. The book was Flight to Arras, and it describes a reconnaissance flight over France during the last days of the French part of WWII, particularly Saint-Ex's conversion, in midair, from a man who risked his life in a lost cause for the respect of his fellow pilots and his own self-respect to a man who did so for France, and for Man:

When I took off for Arras I asked to receive before giving. My demand was in vain. We must give before we can receive, and build before we inhabit. By my gift of blood over Arras I created the love that I feel for my kind as the mother creates the breast by the gift of her milk. Therein resides the mystery. To create love, we must begin by sacrifice. Afterwards, love will demand further sacrifices and ensure us every victory But it is we who must take the first step. We must be born before we can exist.

I came back from Arras, having woven my ties with my farmer's family. Through the translucent smile of his niece I saw the wheat of my village. Beyond my village I saw my country, and beyond my country all other countries. I came back to a civilization which had chosen Man as the keystone in its arch. I came back to Group 2-33 - that group that had volunteered to fight in Norway.

I dressed this day for the service of a god to whose being I was blind. Arras unsealed my eyes.

The sentiment would be familiar to those brave men and women marching in Taiwan, Bahrain, Mongolia, Lebanon and elsewhere. They do so for freedom, yes, and even democracy. But mostly they do it for their countries, and Man, because to do otherwise would be a degredation of the soul beyond what any fascist government or theocratic terrorist organization could visit upon them.

Thanks to Instapundit for the original links.

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