Count the Living
There are two basic types of people when it comes to catastrophe: those who count the living and those who count the dead.
I consider myself among the first group, although I cannot say why. Certainly, I have experienced and witnessed enough dire collapses of many things, personal and professional, to school me in the fatalistic costs of negativity. When it comes to facing loss, I do myself the blessed courtesy of looking dreaded truth in the face, and trying not to flinch from it.
That action is not automatic, and it does not render me morally superior to another person who cannot bear the grievous heartache of a basically unchangeable and bleak situation. I think my response is almost biological or bio-chemical in nature. I do not claim extraordinary powers of valor, although I do commend myself for bellying up to the horrific truth. That expectation of myself has been costly just as often as it has been rewarding: life-saving, life-affirming, and life-strengthening.
I believe that I possess an instinctive sense of duty that compels me to face the music, even if can’t dance to it, at that moment, or perhaps ever. I witnessed at too early an age, during my childhood, the savage price that is paid by anyone who chooses to hide in deception; to wallow in self-pity; to embalm herself with a fraudulent past by using the dead, noble or otherwise, as an excuse to not move forward in life; and by using the honored memory of that dead to manipulate others around her.
Surely, tears must be wept for the fallen victims of evil. And, just as surely, one must bury those dead who fought the brave, and good, fight, but did not, on earth, prevail over the accursed enemy, be it a disease or a dictator. Once the dear one is no longer with me, I cannot, with a calm and soothing conscience, permit myself to luxuriate in shock and outrage and never-ending disgust over appalling injustices and wickedness that I must, fundamentally, accept. Evil can be defeated only with goodness.
The wretched thugs, bullies, and cowards of our time must be vanquished; but only a fierce and unwavering, inébranlable, faith in life will conquer the cult of death that has, for far too many years, masqueraded as virtue in a civilized society.
We, the living, owe it to the dignified dead, to carry on in their stead.
That obligation is one that I practiced today as I practiced a song for this website. It had been more than 8 years since I’ve truly sung, with the rigorous techniques and relaxed bravura of my professional training. During 2008-2011, while I wrote THE DAWN, I used to toss off a round of “Caro Nome” to ready myself to sing “La Marseillaise”. I’d then warble through some Schubert lieder to warm up the vocal cords for a breezy version of “Au Clair de la Lune”.
My 13-inch beagle Bridget would hear me start my vocal warm-up with my pitch pipe. Right on cue, she’d immediately scratch at the back door to go outside. She wanted to use Her Instrument too! Out on the concrete patio she’d march, and bay for all the world to hear.
It was a glorious sound, but no recording of my voice could take place while Bridgee, the Baby Love, was so supremely expressing her hound-sound. When she “left” us in late August 2015, a part of me was silenced. I’ve waited patiently for that part of me to seek, and to need, expression, musical expression, again. Those intervening years have been enterprising, arduous and artistically prolific for me. Those years were also ones of mourning friends who are no longer upon this earth, but whose spirits are forever alive with me.
There are two types of people where such loss is concerned: those who can look to the Light, and know that, even amidst the darkness of grief, God has not forsaken them. Death has much less sting for faith-filled souls. The keening anguish of grief makes its mark, tis certain, upon anyone who has lost a beloved. Only the second type of person can take that wounding mark of bereavement and pick at it until it forms a nasty scar. That embittered heart can then count only the dead.
Five years ago, I bade adieu to newly found but always cherished friends, a Dutch woman and her German husband. Those two hard-working individuals had lived in the south of France for almost thirty years, raising a family, living on the fringes of l’État, the State of France. That beast, like the beast of any intrusively overweening and taxing government, must be fed.
They died young, far too young, but they did not let bitterness enter their hearts as they humbly faced their demise. They did not blame France (although La Poste had definitely raised the ire of one of them). They courageously accepted the lives they had lived, and the choices they had made in order to provide for the next generation. Those young people view l’État as the beast that must be starved if they, the future of France, are to survive, and, God-willing, live, truly live.
I’ll count those living, and not enumerate those dead who died too young. I owe it to the dreams they never got to fulfill. I owe it to the wishes they wished for me. I owe it to my dreams that they believed in, perhaps more than I did five years ago.
A trip to California was all they wanted, and I did my best to bring my little corner of California to them. With their love and encouragement and inspiration, I began to translate THE DAWN into L’AUBE. Those Europeans loved their land more than life itself. They’d loved liberty as well, and so they embarked upon a never-ending journey in l’Occitanie. That journey brought to them as much liberty as any dreamer could hope to know in a world where l’État has become the beast that seeks to devour its own citizens.
The beast that seeks to devour its own citizens now looks around and sees enemies, not friends, phantoms not real human beings. As Hitler learned, an invested fortress is an endlessly expensive investment. The person who does not count the living or the dead is the bureaucrat-fonctionnaire who counts only dollars and euros to corner on his watch. That ghoul counts only the deviancy of his deeds while the dead rise up in the hearts and minds of the living as reminders, the ever-ticking, ever-increasing reminders of the sins committed against humans, against humanity.
We the Patriots of any nation must therefore count the living, not the dead, to ensure that the dead will not have died in vain. The courage, fortitude, and faith of our fallen heroes demand no less of us. Their honour thus becomes our honour. And because honour does not have a price, we are armed with a weapon that the enemies of life and liberty cannot buy to use against us.
The tell-tale heart continues to talk.