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REQUIEM

Below are the two final essays to be posted on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed. The first one is written by a friend -- screen name 'Euro-American Scum' -- who, over the past four years, has been the most faithful essayist here. He has written about everything from his pilgrimage to Normandy in 2004 to take part in the 60th–year commemoration of the invasion, to his memories of his tour in Vietnam. His dedication to America’s founding principles ... and those who have sacrificed to preserve them over the past 200+ years ... is unequaled. Thank you, E-A-S. It has been a privilege to include your writing here, and it is a privilege to call you my friend.

The second essay is my own farewell. And with it I thank all of the many regular visitors, and those who may have only dropped in occasionally, for coming here. I hope you learned something. I hope a seed or two was planted. But, even if not, I thank you for stopping by ... 25 March, 2010

10/20/2007

The Pillars of Creation

Pillars of Creation.jpg

I believe this photo is now over twelve years old but I still find it fascinating and genuinely awe-inspiring.

I found myself thinking of it today and was struggling with the scale of it all. I am no astronomer, but I understand this is a star factory. It is called the Eagle Nebula, with its soaring star factories dubbed the Pillars of Creation. It is star birth in action, all captured in vivid color by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The scale of it is so difficult to comprehend but our Earth would not show up in any way if it were placed within in the scale of this photograph.

While I am not suggesting we all sit around star gazing, the scale of creation in general can be useful in putting everyday issues in perspective.

I recently had to deal with a rather peeved team member over some extra ‘compassionate leave’ given to a colleague at the time a family member died. Peeved team member had lost his father earlier this year and had been given a total of seven days leave in addition to his normal twenty-five days holiday. However at the age of forty-eight he could not countenance that someone might get more compassionate leave than he did.

As diplomatically as I could I implied that it was none of his business and it was a matter for HR, the powers that be in such matters. He grumbled that, if the colleague were given more leave than he, he would want some retroactive compassionate leave.

I tried to end the conversation having already taken half an hour on ‘the issue’. I was frankly bemused that a man of forty-eight years could be so petty, so jealous, so pathetic in his desire for ‘equality’ in work. He has worked too long in the office, has lost his sense of perspective and, although fundamentally a nice man, has become embittered in his pursuit of equal treatment, when in reality there will never be equal or certainly not identical treatment of human situations that always vary and are never the same.

If I hadn't been constrained by the need to act ‘professionally’ and the somber nature of circumstances behind compassionate leave I would have laughed at the very concept that he could get compassionate leave retroactively.

I find the sense of entitlement and the concern over office life amazing in one who seems to have lived most of life's main experiences.

Perhaps I'll take a print of the pillars into work sometime. Maybe it could just bring home that our lives are but one tiny portion of all life that is spread over time and space. Against that, the leave of a colleague might assume slightly less significance than it does at present.

by Luis
(contributing team member of Allegiance and Duty Betrayed)

17 comments:

3timesalady said...

Simply excellent!

Lori_Gmeiner said...

Perhaps I'll take a print of the pillars into work sometime. Maybe it could just bring home that our lives are but one tiny portion of all life that is spread over time and space.

We should all do that. There'd be a lot less griping and a lot more appreciation of our blessings.

Thank you for the excellent essay.

robmaroni said...

Nice work.

john galt said...

This reminds me of "the moral of the story is...." kinds of stories they used to read to us when we were kids.

Your moral hits the mark. Too many people are so busy making sure they have enough toys and get enough recess time that they go through life missing the big picture.

smithy said...

Well thought out and well written. Thank you.

cw-patriot said...

Very well said! The comparison between the Hubble photo and the pettiness and arrogance of much of humanity is masterful.

marcus aurelius said...

We all know people like your co-worker, and it's unfortunate that such people are growing in numbers as a result of the growing self-centered materialistic nature of the Western world. Leisure and affluence exact a terrible price.

Anonymous said...

I like the way you drew the connection between the infinite and powerful universe, the small sphere on which we live, and our smaller, often self created, complaints and problems. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

While I am not suggesting we all sit around star gazing, the scale of creation in general can be useful in putting everyday issues in perspective.

Very wise. Something we all ought to practice alot more than we do.

John Cooper said...

From the H-Bomb to the Human Bomb by Andre Glucksmann:

"Astrophysicists have found, wandering in the starry expanse, certain black holes. When faraway stars come into contact with them, the stars disappear, along with their planets, swallowed by bottomless darkness. From the beginning, human civilizations have existed alongside analogous moral abysses, which foreshadow an end of all things. According to tradition, such annihilation suggests a jealous and vengeful divinity, or malevolent demons.

In their endeavor to understand the black holes that threaten societies, the inventors of Western philosophy, comparing them to natural cataclysms, earthquakes, volcanoes, and epidemics, refused to see in them a supernatural sanction or to deny the responsibility of mortals. If God is not a cause, the darkness that threatens to overtake humanity is human, irreducible to an impersonal fate. The destructive principle inheres in us, whether we know it or not—this is the persistent message of the tragedians. Hate moves like Thucydides’s plague, not a purely physiological condition but an essentially mental disorder, which takes over bodies, minds, and society. The idea of a contagion of hatred must be taken literally: hatred spreads hatred, an outbreak that inoculates itself against all who oppose it.

Maybe one day, we will view the last century with nostalgia, even if it was dealt Auschwitz and Hiroshima. For today’s terrorism strives to mix these two ingredients into new cocktails of horror. During the cold war, the threat to man was dual: one, between two blocs, involved reciprocal annihilation; the other, terrorist, confined the savage extermination of civilian populations to the interior of each camp. Today, global terrorism eliminates geostrategic borders and traditional taboos. The last seconds of the condemned of Manhattan, of Atocha, and of the London Underground sent us two messages: “Here abandon all hope,” the Dantesque injunction carried by a bomb that wipes the slate clean; and “Here there is no reason why,” the nihilist gospel of SS officers. Hiroshima signified the technical possibility of a desert that approaches closer and closer to the absolute; Auschwitz represented the deliberate and lucid pursuit of total annihilation. The conjunction of these two forms of the will to nothingness looms in the black holes of modern hatred."

John Cooper said...

I was hoping for some comments on Glucksmann's article, the gist of which was philosophy moves nations (something which I believe).

What is the American philosophy?

Anonymous said...

A friend sent me here to read your global warming article but I can't seem to find it?

cw-patriot said...

A friend sent me here to read your global warming article but I can't seem to find it?

Under the "blog archives" on the right sidebar, click on the month of March and it will come up as the first essay.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy reading here. :)

Luis said...

Thank you to all who took the time to read this or left kind comments. I am glad it struck a chord.

John Cooper said...

Luis--
In a small way, I had a "heavenly" experience two days ago.

At 5:50EST on Monday I walked out of our warm house to watch the ISS and Space Shuttle pass almost overhead. Wow, what a beautiful and unexpected display in the heavens that turned out to be!

I stumbled out in the dark to an open area where I am preparing a future orchard and stood there with the dogs waiting. The ISS/Shuttle pair came up over the trees right on time in the SW, not far from Sirius (Orion's "dog star"). It was moving *fast*. The Shuttle was in the process of undocking from the Station at the time - about 200' away according to the NASA channel that Terri was watching in the cabin. With the exception of the moon. the pair was the brightest object in a brilliant, clear night sky, To my eyes, it almost looked like two objects.

Over in the Western sky, Venus appeared less than five degrees to the left of the crescent moon, and the space station passed about ten degrees above the two. I was wishing I had a "real" camera and a tripod - it would have made a spectacular time exposure. The fire I had just built in the fireplace was sending up a few glowing sparks, which would have wafted up from below toward the Moon, Venus, and the Station in the photo. Almost like the scene in the movie "The Right Stuff" where the Aborigines were watching John Glenn pass overhead.

The entire show lasted less than a minute. Sigh...

I went out again this morning at 6:12AM to watch a "replay", but the weather was against me. The sky was clear as I left the house, but within a matter of two minutes, a layer of fog appeared and blocked the entire sky directly above. I could see the horizon in both directions, but not directly above. Drat!

I missed the transit of the shuttle and space station, but to add insult to injury, the fog dissipated just as I was walking back to the house.

Five minutes later, the sky was completely clear.

Luis said...

John,

Sounds an amazing sight you saw. Despite not being able to "replay" due to fog, the prior evening sounds a fantastic experience.

Living in the suburbs of London I can only dream about seeing such clear skies !

Thanks for sharing this.

Luis