“I was a warrior, so my son could be a farmer—so his son could be a poet.”
The problem with the generation of farmers and poets is that we are prone to forget. We’re too caught up in practicing the endeavors of peace to remember that the only reason that’s possible is because somebody else sacrificed their opportunity. Our foolish human nature relishes the thought of being independent, self-made individuals—however, the truth is that absolutely none of us are! The price of all of our opportunities, luxuries and blessings has been paid for with the blood of others!
I’m reminded this Memorial Day of the words of Thomas Paine from The American Crisis which says “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly…Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if…FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”
You and I do not live in a world where genuine evil can be stared down with hymnals or wreaths. Perhaps there is another reality—created by different choices, where that’s possible—but it’s definitely not this one! In this reality it takes blood of good men (sometimes our best and brightest) to pay for the freedom and opportunities we have. This we should never forget.
But we DO forget! And that’s what makes me angry at myself and the rest of my generation. We farmers and poets can become too comfortable and complacent. We think of the practicality of the soil or get lost in the idealism of our dreams and forget that genuine evil is never practical nor does it sleep. We forget…or we choose to ignore. Then the cycle has to repeat itself and another generation goes to war against the same evil that the farmers and poets allowed to take root and grow. And those children will fight and many of them will die too. Why? So their sons can be farmers and their sons poets.
What is excruciating for me as a member of the farmer/poet generation is that I believe that John Adams understood this. He was saying that part of BEING a warrior is covering the ignorance and forgetfulness of those that are not. The warriors win us a short period of blissful solace from the harsher realities of a hard and unfair world. They give us farmers a few precious moments to work the soil and (just hopefully) learn its lessons. They provide us poets with a short opportunity to plan, hope and dream because they believe that we can somehow learn the lessons that their generation could not. They’ve done all this hoping that one day, we their children, can lay the foundation within ourselves for another reality—one based on better decisions; a better world where the warrior never has to be called upon again to defend the innocent and ignorant from evil—because those things will have (finally) passed away.
Maybe one day—with God’s help—we’ll become worthy of just such a world…