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November 22, 1963

26 Jan

“In the moral sphere, every act of justice or charity involves putting ourselves in the other person’s place and thus transcending our own competitive particularity.”  (C. S. Lewis, Answers to Questions on Christianity)

There are some dates in history that are so etched in human minds.  They are as imprinted as a front page.  They are etched as in stone.  They are each unforgettable in their own right.

November 22, 1963 is a date I will never forget.  As a 7-year old, I can still recall where I was on that fateful day.  I vividly recall my grandmother’s weeping and hysteria.  For some reason, I remember Walter Cronkite, CBS News, and all the images that poured forth from Dealy Plaza.  It was a terrible day for our nation.

The words of John F. Kennedy still resonate in our culture, some 47 years later.  “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”  Kennedy also said, “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”  Rhetoric has a way of finding its niche amongst the quotations amassed across history.  Kennedy could surely turn a phrase.  One of my personal favorites is “Geography has made us neighbors.  History has made us friends.  Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies.  Those whom God has so joined together, let no man put asunder.”

Another man who left us on November 22, 1963 was Clive Staples Lewis, philosopher, author, professor.  One man’s death occupied the front page of every newspaper in the world.  Another man’s death was a sidebar, tucked away newspapers’ later sections.  Memories about people and things are very important.  However, what lasts beyond people and things are legacies.  Legacies beyond elected office.  Legacies beyond politics and power.  Messages are embedded in legacies.  One need not be a world leader to have either a legacy or a message. 

There is no doubt that Kennedy and Lewis had timely messages for their generations.  However, as JFK has slipped into the distant memories of an era long-gone, it is Lewis whose message holds consistent.  From Narnia to Abolition of Man to Mere Christianity to the Four loves, Lewis’s writing are still touching generations.  One does not need to be front and center, as if larger in death than in life.  One just needs to “be.”  Lewis was AND is . . . There is a certain ubiquity to the works of this apologist.

Some of my favorite quotes of Lewis are: 

  • “100 per cent of us die, and the percentage cannot be increased.” (The Weight of Glory)
  • “This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people.”  (The Case for Christianity
  • “Who can endure a doctrine which would allow only dentists to say whether our teeth were aching, only cobblers to say whether our shoes hurt us, and only governments to tell us whether we were being well-governed?”  (A Preface to Paradise Lost
  • “Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.”  (The Problem of Pain)
  • “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning.”  (Mere Christianity)

Sometimes words that are printed, or carved, seem immortal.  But what is truly immortal in these words are their meanings.  Truth has no originator and no finisher.  Truth just is.  The discrepancies are how truth is appropriated and applied.  Misapplication of truth does not invalidate truth, much like a bad driver does not invalidate transportation.  (EZ)

Two men, of equal humanity, of unequal destiny, made their marks on history.  One left the earth by violence and that event still haunts many today.  The other man left in a peaceful, quiet way.  Both left legacies . . . one political and temporal, the other philosophical and always contemporary. 

Yes, there are some dates in history that are so etched in human minds.  They are imprinted as a front page.  They are etched as in stone.  They are each unforgettable in their own right.  Life is a product, not a sum-game.  Legacies are exponential when grounded in truth. 


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