Dedication to Those who Defied Death

Jolanta (Irena’s nom de guerre) saved more Jews than any other person during wartime: around 2,500 people.
Is there a better example of a combatant?
(“Irena Sendlerowa”, by Mariusz Kubik / CC BY 3.0 / Desaturated from original)

I didn’t write the words below — I just typed them. I don’t think I’d have the ability to transpose my feelings into words so strong, visceral, and honest, even if I had lived through what this man has.

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The Combatant – #6

That is why he hates to leave home late. It is five o’clock in the morning and he has not even reached the Red Line yet. The flow of cars converging to his path means heavy traffic ahead. The red lanterns of the cars glow like the eyes of bats at night, a million of them in procession to reach their dark master. He could check the map app on his cell phone, but certain things are better not to know. He usually feels good about having unusual work hours. It helps him to pretend not to be a mere worker coming and going in his daily toil, like Sisyphus carrying his rock up and down the mountain. His schedule usually avoids traffic. But today — today — he will have time to stop feeling special and join the pack.

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The Combatant – #5

He hears many interesting things, but, fleeting, they go almost as fast as they come; only death remains. Not even the reasons for all those deaths, or the names of the wars, or the approximate dates stay. Nothing but the pure and grotesque fact of so many deaths. Now as he looks into the past from the comfort of the future, time compresses, reality loses importance, and absurdity seems little more than mere words, words that not even use ink and paper anymore.

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The Combatant – #4

There’s nothing out there. It is as if he finally reached the end of the world he had always imagined as a child. He used to struggle with the idea of ​​infinity. How could that be possible? Everything must have an end. But when he tried to imagine such an end, he was perplexed. He imagined a huge brick wall stretching indefinitely in all directions. But, of course, the obvious question always arose: What lies beyond the wall? Now standing on his porch, staring out at the valley ahead, all he sees is a dark gray massif blotting out his entire field of vision, like his brick wall.

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The Combatant – #3

He would thank God for the vibration in his pocket, but he is not that hypocritical. His beliefs are extremely scarce nowadays: the Glock 22 at his waist is one of them; God does not make it to the list. But it is with heartfelt gratitude to the goddess Fortuna that he does one of the things he hates most and picks up the cell phone in his pocket — at least his trance is over, and he finds the necessary decisiveness to exit his daughter’s room. He does not look back as he gently closes the door.

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Natural Violence

“Only look about you: blood is being spilt in streams, and in the merriest way, as though it were champagne. […] And what is it that civilisation softens in us? […] And through the development of this many-sidedness man may come to finding enjoyment in bloodshed. […] In any case civilisation has made mankind if not more bloodthirsty, at least more vilely, more loathsomely bloodthirsty. In old days he saw justice in bloodshed and with his conscience at peace exterminated those he thought proper. Now we do think bloodshed abominable and yet we engage in this abomination, and with more energy than ever. Which is worse? Decide that for yourselves.”
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “Notes from Underground”.

The day is almost over and I am struck by despair that is now known to me. I haven’t written any post yet, I have none saved for a moment like this, and, what is worse, I do not have the motivation to write. However, write I must. As a friend of mine always says (referring to the habit of running every day): when it is hard, when there is no mood, when all you want is not doing it is precisely the moment when you most should do it — only then is there true merit. And so I force myself to write. But all that comes to my mind is the absurd violence we live in, and every word I write bothers me.

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Fly!

“Who passed through Life in white cloud, / And in placid rest slept, / Who never felt the cold of disgrace, / Who passed through Life and did not suffer, / Was a spectre of man, and not man, / Only passed through life, not lived.”
– Francisco Otaviano –
(by Barry Holubeck / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Desaturated from original)

When a policeman is shot and killed, it is not hard to understand; life in the streets is dangerous, but we know someone must live it if we expect to have a minimum of order and security. So, when that happens, the gossip is about knowing exactly what has occurred: Was it a coward criminal deed? Was it during combat? Or was it the policeman’s corruption that eventually killed him? But we never hear someone questioning the “merit” of such death — policemen and criminals die by the bullet, and that’s it. But when someone dies by jumping from a precipice with small wings between the arms, then the gossip is of a different nature.

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O.P.A.R. – Commentary: “Anti-Evasion” Morality

“By its nature, evasion is a form of nonintegration. It is the most lethal form: the willful disintegration of mental contents. A man in this condition no longer has the means to determine consistency or contradiction, truth or falsehood. In his consciousness, all conceptual content is reduced to the capricious, the baseless, the arbitrary; no conclusion qualifies as knowledge in a mind that rejects the requirements of cognition. Thus the real evader […] reaches only one end and one kind of “safety”: all-encompassing blindness.”
Leonard Peikoff, “O.P.A.R.”, page 225.
(Stop evading. Look at reality. See something you can’t accept? Combat it.)

Combat has a built-in morality, and it is beautiful. But please understand what I mean by combat. It is not a war or a violent situation in which you find yourself. Combat is an attitude toward life, it is choosing the fight rather than running away from it. The most easily recognizable forms of combat are the explicit ones, like the one I practice in the favelas, but it is not the external appearance that matters — it’s the underlying ethic. When I press the trigger of my rifle, I am not choosing death; I am choosing life — the life of a man qua man — as my standard of value.

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