Courage and conviction seemed worth thinking about this Memorial Day weekend down here in Mexico City, where there are few rules and freedom arises from chaos rather than a uniform culture, as my friend Victor Z explained.
A courageous life to every earthbound individual now conjures up a different set of experiences. As it should. But as such, the fight in the world now is about defining what it means to be brave and express conviction, not what it means to be free.
No one is answering America’s personals listing now. The world has put the fear of loneliness at the heart of our politics. Karaoke, anyone?
A society’s convictions are revealed in what it finds courageous. Which societies among us inspire an higher order conviction among its participants?
A society becomes fundamentalist when there are the fewest avenues to conviction, and where courage and audacity are elevated to the level of conviction. "We behave," said Riviere in Saint-Exupery’s 1931 novel, Night Flight, "as if there were something of higher value than human life…But what thing?"
Manly virtues no longer play a part in war as they did in Homer’s epics, nor do they play the same part in writing as they did during the birth of modern religions.
Would we have had fewer wars if we’d never learned to write? Or built the Internet?
"Coming down…entering the clouds," went the newlywed (6 weeks) pilot Fabien’s final transmission from inside a Patagonian cyclone in Night Flight. "…see nothing."
"See you on the flip side," went the Master Blaster.