A Plumbline in the Wind

The world is going to the dogs, but I refuse to learn to bark

Psalm 119:107 I am sorely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to thy word!

A Plumbline in the Wind Near Lauder, Scotland: Sheep on a hillside

A class traitor

1 October 2008 · 3 Comments

These days I feel like Yeats’s Irish airman:

Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love

Actually I wouldn’t go so far as to say I don’t love them, but the ones I fight are not those I hate. They are my own people. In all likelihood, the elections will bring to power a regime that will put in place measures that will deprive Catholics and conservatives of freedom of speech and probably result in outright persecution, at least by exclusion from certain kinds of work and inability to carry on institutional existence. And those who are going to be putting that regime in power are my own people. They are my family, who taught me to hate everything I now am. They are my old friends, with whom I still feel the deepest affinity–some of them even friends with whom I have shared the faith. They are those with whom I share an education. I am a traitor to my class of educated, literate people. Those I guard are those with whom I share faith in God and commitment to His truth, and yet among them I feel like one in exile, speaking every day a foreign language, however fluent I may be in it. Like one who longs for the sight of a country to which he can never return, because the revolutionaries who have seized control there will put him to death, l remain a stranger and an alien in my new home, alienated from my old home.

I have become a stranger to my brethren,
an alien to my mother’s sons.
For zeal for thy house has consumed me,
and the insults of those who insult thee have fallen on me. (Ps 69:8-9)

It is not an enemy who taunts me–
then I could bear it;
It is not an adversary who deals insolently with me–
then I could hide from him.
But it is you, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
We used to hold sweet converse together;
within God’s house we walked in fellowship. (Ps 55:12-14)

Tags: My Life · Politics and society

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 MamaT // 3 Oct 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Oh, my. I know how you feel.

  • 2 Dave Jones // 3 Oct 2008 at 10:23 pm

    I just watched the movie Memphis Belle after reading your entry earlier today. I immediately recognized the poem you cite by Yeats in one of the scenes as it’s recited by an Irish American soldier prior to his last flight-

    I know that I shall meet my fate
    Somewhere among the clouds above;
    Those that I fight I do not hate,
    Those that I guard I do not love…
    No likely end could bring them loss
    Or leave them happier than before.
    Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
    Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
    A lonely impulse of delight
    Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
    I balanced all, brought all to mind,
    The years to come seemed waste of breath,
    A waste of breath the years behind
    In balance with this life, this death.

    If you’ve never seen this movie, I recommend it. I won’t tell you how it turns out for the young man, you’ll have to see for yourself. We own the movie, let me know if you’d like to borrow it. You can preview the scene above on YouTube, begin about 45 seconds into the clip. Don’t most people feel alienated from one another now and then, though not to the extent you’ve experienced and expressed?

  • 3 Mary Jane // 22 Oct 2008 at 1:49 pm

    You’re not the only one. Many of us find ourselves separated in this election from old friends and family - sometimes with arguments, often with the careful avoidance of the topic.

    Reading David McCullough’s biography of John Adams and remembering the division in the colonies between revolutionaries and Tories, I am reminded at what cost this country was founded. And how appalled I am that we might let it slip away so easily.

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