I am re-publishing this column in observance of Veterans' Day, and in honor of my Dad, a veteran of World War II and D-Day. They must never be forgotten, especially now that fascism, the very plague my dad and his comrades fought and bled to exterminate, is gaining power in Europe and even in the United States.
"For at any price, we must keep those who have too clear a conscience from living and dying in peace." -- E. M. Cioran, "Thinking Against Oneself" in The Temptation to Exist
Given how short Americans’ collective historical memory has become, many people – and it may be all “millennials” – would be hard-pressed to attach any significance to today: 6 June 2017. But before someone cues up the theme music from “Final Jeopardy”, please allow me to enlighten you: as of today, it has
Like most everyone else – that is, except probably for the actual actors and staff of Game of Thrones (hereafter GOT) – I have only watched the penultimate episode “The Bells”. So I know no more about how the series ends than anyone else. Least of all do I know who ends up sitting on the Iron Throne. That question presumably is answered in the final-season episode next week, as this is written (14 May). But if the Westerosi elite were to ask my counsel about who is best suited and equipped to sit on the Throne, I could recur to some ancient Greek texts, specifically Plato’s Republic, for some very wise advice.
But first a solemn
warning: If you have not seen this next-to-last
episode of GOT, then read no farther,
because reading past this paragraph will almost certainly
Yeah … I guess I must … anyway … as I have said before, when I was taking both secular philosophy (ethics at a secular university) and moral theology (at a Jesuit school, Seattle University), I was taught, in different ways and in different dialects, that Knowledge plus Power equals Responsibility. I.e., if I know that a given situation is morally wrong and if I have the power to effect change, then I am morally responsible for acting so as to alter the situation and right the wrong. And, moreover, the degree of responsibility varies directly with the scope of my knowledge and my power to effect that change. E.g., there is not much I can do to alleviate the plight of Syrian refugees. Maybe all I can do is to give money. But I am obligated to do at least that much. Given how wides