Two Thoughts on Death and Freedom
It is November 11th. So many thousands of men died in conflict in the last century, primarily in two cataclysmic world wars, in the name of keeping the free world free. The enemies of freedom would be long dead now regardless of the outcome of those wars, as, presumably, would be their self-devouring political dreams. Meanwhile, that free world for which so many brave men gave their lives is no longer free, abandoned voluntarily by generations of cowards and pleasure-seekers all too eager to divest themselves of the birthright for the preservation of which their ancestors suffered horribly, and to do so at the smarmy behest of minions — Hitler’s pipsqueak nephews, Stalin’s milquetoast diminutives.
One must earn another man’s death, even — or especially — in its aftermath. We have not earned it. In other words, we do not deserve it.
Every death in the face of oppression is an implicit challenge to those who survive. Socrates showed us what “philosophy as practicing death” really meant — and not only as a spiritual imperative but also as a political stand, since, as Plato took great pains to demonstrate, there is no existing regime welcoming to the lover of wisdom. But how many have lived up to Socrates’ example, and earned the name? — though today thousands dare to call themselves philosophers while enjoying the wine and cheese after their little conferences and guest lectures.