A creaking of the heavy, oak door
Posted on September 29, 2022
A creaking of the heavy, oak door
Occasionally, on special occasions, you will meet, in Life, stout, heavy, oak, doors, that tend to start to creak open (or sometimes, shut).
They do so at a time, seemingly, of their own choosing. Not yours. You might, in that distant, far-back Time, have thought they ushered in a chink of New Light. Fresh Understanding. It is only later in Life, perhaps, that you reluctantly start won-de-ring, if that creaking door? Ushered in, not Light. But, in fact, a whole New type of Darkness. And Doubt. It’s hard to say.
Ah, maybe you don’t follow me. Perhaps, some examples, a select handful, might help.
Thus, in youth, many folk (by no means, all), pass into a state of Soaring Idealism. University students are classic examples. They may mean terribly well. In terms of kindness, charity, empathy and, dare I use that tarnished word? Love. They may study fine philosophies & religions. They may become quiet erudite, in their own way. Puffed up with it, even. Oh, how many of us admired Mahatma Gandhi. His philosophy of non-violence? How many of us maybe read “The Prophet” by the Lebanese poet-philosopher, Kahlil Gibran? And soared away into a gentle, kind, meaningful, lyrical world? How many of us, brimming full of love for humanity, rushed out and volunteered madly in all sorts of good causes? Determined to help create, a better world.
I was one such, soft, fool. I worked with alcoholics & drop-outs, mentally and physically handicapped children, I hugged and I cuddled, and I taught little bastards to build model airplanes. I listened patiently on a suicide hot line. I tilled and I sowed. I meant so well, poor fellow. And then…? One of those damn, stout, oak doors, creaked, slowly, open.
Discretion leads me to omit the Troubled Time and Place. Suffice it to say, there was a sudden explosion of astonishing, brute violence, and that people were getting hurt, badly. There were young people present, even children, caught in a dangerous volley of fire & rain. And I, the committed Pacifist, lurking in the shadows, off to one side, not immediately physically affected, looking on in surprised horror. My first instinct was to leap into the middle of the fray, and plead eloquently for peace. But that stage was already taken. At least three such folk had rushed forward, and were already bravely placing themselves in harm’s way, lobbying back, not bricks and bottles. But fine words, and the best of intentions. I wondered if they would get hurt, and nobly crumple before us, as martyrs to the Cause. And, as before, we could visit them in hospital. Gangs of us. All concerned. They, wrapped in bandages, black eyes, and blood stains. So noble, so brave! And us, almost wishing that it was us lying there, the object of such hushed devotion. The pretty girls, tears in their eyes, their voices quivering. Fluttering about.
And then, alas, that damn oak door. Creaked. Open. And I thought to myself, I thought.
“F**K THIS FOR A GAME OF SOLDIERS!”
I picked up a billiard cue, and went to work, unashamedly busting heads & knee caps. Sorry, Mahatma. However, Guess what? Smack-in-face, boot-in-nuts, under certain circumstances, works much better than bloody poetry. Broken bottle beats iambic pentameter! And thus was born? The Realization that many people, maybe invaders, in the final analysis, only respect, Strength, and/or PAIN. Everything else, however well-meant? Is misinterpreted as weakness. A frailty. An invitation to take further, full advantage. And I might ask? Is that a MIS-interpretation? That it’s just weakness? Decadence? Or is it a CORRECT interpretation… Applicable to our rapidly crumbling Western Society? Today!
Life was never quite the same after that. I look back on it, knowing I would never again be an honorable, accepted member of that particular troupe of good-hearted, wide-eyed, innocents. In the fullness of Time, I learned to shoot and fight. But more was to come, and a reinforcement, if you wish, of the emotions I felt when first that damn oak door, creaked open. The reinforcement happened when an Old Soldier, one day, seeing my post-conflict silent distress, bade me go with him for a private walk. I initially refused. I wanted to be left alone in my silent, bitter thoughts. But he outranked me, and I had no choice. That above mentioned, heavy, oak door creaked open further, when he spoke words to me I have never forgotten since. I was in my twenties, and he in his fifties. But how right (or wrong?) he was, when he stated an awful truth, (or a terrible lie) in a few, well-chosen, words.
“In war, you cannot see the individual. Only the uniform. Otherwise nothing ever gets done.”
And of course, that ‘uniform’ may not be a formal ‘military’ attire. With rank, insignia, specific color and medals. The innocuous civilian attire may hide behind it, a 5th column enemy soldier more deadly, fierce and pitiless than any. Such soldiers are not Identifiable by a recognized military uniform. But by creed & cruelty. Perhaps a ruthless power ideology, dressed up in the tinsel & glitter of the ‘Divine’. A pseudo-religion, in other words. My Old Soldier friend? Now long dead. Would have instantly recognized many of the stealthy -enemy- players today. And the not-so-stealthy. He would bid me go for a walk, and I can hear his accent, still. Admonishing me not to waste futile, pretty, words. I might add four little words. I shall do so, in italics.
“In war, you cannot see the individual. Only the uniform, or the common thread. Otherwise nothing ever gets done.”
He was right. The West, today? In existential crisis? In a war to the Death, with most STILL not even realizing it? Still fast asleep?
Might do well, as a first step?
To heed the Old Soldier’s words.