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Saturday, September 15, 2001

I woke up tuesday morning

I woke up tuesday morning to unspeakable horror, and come wednesday I was back at work. A new day arrives and passes on by like any other.

On reflection I came to see what an absurdity normalcy has become.

At dinner last night, Val, Dave and I were talking about just this. How can we go along with our normal lives while so many will never be the same? How seemingly selfish of us to get back to focusing on our own lives and work in light of this carnage! At the same time, how futile any imaginable act on our part appears!

A friend pointed me to an essay by C.S. Lewis. Though the context in which Lewis penned the piece was the last great war, I find his words most timely and fitting.

Here is the timeless Mr.Lewis.......

"The war creates no absolutely new situation; it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun. We are mistaken when we compare war with "normal life." Life has never been normal. Even those periods which we think most tranquil... turn out, on closer inspection, to be full of crises, alarms, difficulties, emergencies. Plausible reasons have never been lacking for putting off all merely cultural activities until some imminent danger has been averted or some crying injustice put right. But humanity long ago chose to neglect those plausible reasons. They wanted knowledge and beauty now, and would not wait for the suitable moment that never comes.

...

Thus we may have a duty to rescue a drowning man and, perhaps, if we live on a dangerous coast, to learn lifesaving so as to be ready for any drowning man when he turns up. It may be our duty to lose our lives in saving him. But if anyone devoted himself to lifesaving in the sense of giving it his total attention -- so that he thought and spoke of nothing else and demanded the cessation of all other human activities until everyone had learned to swim -- he would be a monomaniac. The rescue of drowning men is, then, a duty worth dying for, but not worth living for."

-- C. S. Lewis ("Learning in War-Time", in The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses)

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