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This morning I’m sad. Maybe it’s only because I worked long days Monday and Tuesday and am still tired. But for whatever reason I’ve been thinking and feeling about the people I love who have died—my mother, my father and others very dear to me. Their pictures—along with dozens more family alive and dead—are all on the wall in front of me as I write this little essay. Last year it was my wife’s mother and my daughter-in-law’s father who died—one suddenly and the other much too young. One day, of course, the rest of us will join them, which doesn’t make me any happier.
Today I mourn the dead, along with the dying: manners, decency, common sense, wisdom, freedom, all of which have been dimming for decades in our culture. Some say Western civilization is already dead and just hasn’t stopped twitching. I don’t know. But witnessing all these once great and good qualities of the American people disappear is like watching a 1950s atom bomb test film where the shockwave moves along the ground knocking over cars and houses like toys. The cultural shockwave is taking years to move along the ground, but it carries far, far more lasting destruction than any nuclear bomb, whether people want to open their eyes to the damage or not.
You could say my attitude today is morbid and destructive, but I don’t think so. Thinking about death makes me that much more determined to live, and help others do the same.