Canada is free of many of the foreign policy disasters and failures of vision that the United States has been correctly charged with, but they are free too of the satisfaction and pride of being history's singular bulwark of freedom and prosperity, and the eternal, unintimidated scourge of tyrants and murderers from the Barbary pirates, through the armed might of the 20th Century's parade of totalitarians and right up to Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and the criminal lunatics that run North Korea.
Men open windows. Hurricanes come from elsewhere.
From my copy of "Verses from Tang Poetry"
Laughing to the sky, I go out the door,
I'm not an ordinary man at all.
Cut running water with a sword,
The water will faster flow;
Drown your sorrow by drinking,
The sorrow will heavier flow.
Imagine an iron house without windows, absolutely indestructible, with many people fast asleep inside who will soon die of suffocation. But you know since they will die in their sleep, they will not feel the pain of death. Now if you cry aloud to waken a few of the lighter sleepers, making those unfortunate few suffer the agony of irrevocable death, do you think you are doing them a good turn? But if a few awake, you can't say there is no hope of destroying the iron house.
End quote. So perhaps there's some reason, at least, to go on writing and talking. And then if, as I believe, we are going into a great darkness, we can still, at least, sing as we go. In the days of public executions in England, the condemned man on the scaffold was greatly admired if he could sing a popular song, or make a comic speech, while the hangman was testing his knot. It was the same in China, according to Lu Xun. The hero of one of his stories is vexed because, about to be executed, he can't remember the words of the operatic aria he wanted to sing.
(*This is from the transcript of the latest episode of Radio Derb. You can get the podcast for John Derbyshire's show on i-tunes.*)