The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Joy of Battle

The cascade of recent events in the Middle East has been surprising to nearly everyone. Certainly, some good things have happened in Iraq, in Lebanon, possibly in Egpyt, and more recently, perhaps, in Jordan. But they have not been clean wins, and we must not see them as such.

There is a powerful tendency, after the long, static and bloody wait, to feel a rush of excitement. I fear this excitement, because I believe that it can lead to overoptimism. It is a vicarious joy in battle, in events that hold the promise to make the world new; a diluted version of what Rupert Brooke expressed in 1914:

Now, God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour,
And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping,
With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened power,
To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping,
Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary.

The road ahead is longer than Brooke knew.