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We Have to Carry the Fire

The Syrian conflict defies reason. What is it about? No one knows. The Syrian government, the Russian government, the US government, and ISIS terrorists—we are all a part of a bloody, inhumane slaughter of innocents.

Our news sources are unreliable. We really have no idea what is going on. We see the devastation and the carnage, the heartbreaking chaos, and suffering. But it all goes around in vicious cycles of obscene violence and endless death and no one has any explanation or solution. Other than who can be the most ferocious in war.

Our entire political leadership, from President Trump and the full Congress, all the way down to state governments, Texas most notably, are so arrogantly polarized, so consumed with indifference to real life and death issues, to actual living people, that they have nothing helpful or in any way substantial to offer a warring world.

Yes, someone is responsible for the chemical explosion in Syria that brought horrifying misery and excruciating death to so many men, women, teens, and children. But the politics of this and the pathetic political infighting of our leaders make it impossible to identify the real murderers.

And so the blame game carries on without end. While Syria and much of the world teeters on the brink of a human catastrophe beyond description, our leaders wrangle over their right to be right, their cozy selfish places of power, their infantile moods of entitlement; and we are left with their intransigent refusal to cooperate for the good of the nation or the world.

I may be an idealist but I’m not naive. There has always been terror and war and human hatred and violence one against another. But we seem now to be in some alarming new dimension of all of that.

Shakespeare said, “It is excellent to have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.” We seem to have lost all perspective when it comes to our power. And our wielding our power like a giant across the Middle East has created enormous disorder and lawlessness by terrorists, by dictators we have coddled and attempted to manipulate, and by old allies disillusioned by our aggressive and often careless interventions into the politics and governing of other countries.

America is in a leadership crisis. We need men and women who have a vision larger than their own careers, their own personal ambitions. The world has often looked to us for that kind of guidance from our president and the Congress. And history shows more than once we offered wisdom and humanity in our responses. We need that now.

Cormac McCarthy’s novel, “The Road,” is a disturbing and frightening journey of a father and son in a future world at the end of civilization. A dark, withering and diabolical planet is dying and everything in it. The man and his boy travel through unimaginable terror and threats on a road to nowhere.

Near the end, the father, wounded and exhausted, implores his young son to endure, to go on. In a moment of tenderness in the midst of this collapse of humanity, he tells his son:

“You have to carry the fire.”
“I don’t know how to.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Is the fire real? The fire?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Where is it? I don’t know where it is.”
“Yes, you do. It’s inside you. It always was there. I can see it.”

It’s in us, too. We cannot let it be extinguished. Not now. Not ever. The future of everything depends on that fire.

© 2017 Timothy Moody

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