Our Need for Consolation Is Insatiable … (film text excerpts)
Whatever interpretation one puts on those two conflicts, almost no-one sane would condone the use of the AK 47 in killing civilians, for instance Shiites in Iraq. In his old age, Mikhail Kalashnikov has come to have some doubts about his invention. But when I see how peaceful people are killed and wounded by these weapons, I get very distressed and upset. I calm down by telling myself that I invented this gun 60 years ago to protect the interests of my country. Here is the dilemma: Weapons research produces in the first place not guns, bombs, bullets and planes and the various command, control and communications hardware and software needed to use these things, but plans , blueprints and designs — knowledge and know-how.
Unless these useful plans are lost or destroyed, they can be implemented or instantiated many times over, and thus project unforeseen into the future. The weapons design with the most longevity that I know of is the onager , the one-armed catapult used at the siege of Syracuse under the direction of Archimedes in BCE and invented some centuries earlier. Aficionados still build onagers from the original plans. Now suppose that J, a weapons researcher, designs a weapon because her country is in dire threat from a wicked invader: there are many examples of this, from Archimedes to Watson-Watt the inventor of radar, and beyond.
There is a moral dilemma here for the following reasons. I assume that J is a moral person and hence does not want to do harm unless she has sufficient justification.
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The imminent likelihood that an aggressor will destroy her family, country and way of life is surely sufficient justification. What should J do? And is this really a general problem, or one that only worries Kalashnikov? Mikhail Kalashnikov invented a kind of rifle, which is not a really dramatic weapon, unlike the atomic bomb.
If any one person invented the atomic bomb, it was Leo Szilard. It seems he had the idea, and he made great efforts from until , when the Manhattan Project was set up, to get the research done that would show whether an atomic bomb was possible; how to make one; and if need be, to provide the basis for actually making one. Szilard did not do these things because he believed in weapons research for its own sake, but because he was worried about the Nazis. He was worried about their intentions as regards his people, the Jews, about their political ambitions, and above all about the relations between the talented German scientific community and their military.
If nuclear physics, a branch of science that was flourishing in Germany, could be used for military purposes, then surely the German scientists would work on the problem of how to make an atomic bomb and find the answers. This perception was greatly strengthened when Hahn and Strassmann discovered nuclear fission in Berlin in So Szilard, worried about the Nazis getting an atomic bomb, thought that the Allies should do the research to see if and how one could be made, in order to deter or otherwise prevent the Nazis from using one. The Allies, mainly the Americans, did do the research.
Through a prodigious scientific, technical and manufacturing effort the Manhattan Project produced three atomic bombs in As far as Szilard and a good number of other atomic scientists were concerned there was no longer a rationale for the bomb project. Szilard, Philip Franck and others wrote The Franck Report in June , which among other things advocated a demonstration of the power of the atomic bomb by dropping one on an uninhabited island.
It does these things, of course, but with its freedom intact. And it would be absurd to say that people exist for anything else but to live.
Certainly, humans feed machines, or write books, but they could as easily do something else. All the while, maintaining freedom. Like every other part of creation, man is an end in himself — resting like a stone in the sand. There is a time when I have to turn toward land and meet the organizers of my oppression. And there I find that humans have created forms for their lives that seem stronger than themselves. With all my newly won freedom I cannot crush these forms, only groan under their weight. One kind of freedom, I realize, is forever gone.
It is the freedom that comes with owning your own element. The fish has its own, the bird its own, the land creature has its own. The human being, however, moves with the peril of a stranger in all the elements.
Thoreau still had his Walden. Today, where is the forest in which human beings can live in freedom, outside the hardened molds of society? I have to reply: nowhere.
Of Consolation: To Marcia - Wikisource, the free online library
Today, if I want to live freely, it has to be within these walls. The world is stronger than I. I have nothing with which to meet its power other than myself. But on the other hand, that is everything.
As long as I do not let myself be defeated, I too am a power. And my power is tremendous as long as I have the strength of my words with which to challenge the world, because those who use words to build prisons cannot measure up to those who use them to build freedom. But on the day when all that remains to defend my integrity is my silence, my power will be boundless, because no axe can cut the silence that breathes.
This is my sole consolation. I know that lapses into hopelessness will be many and deep but the memory of the miracle of liberation carries me like on a wing toward the dizzying goal: towards a consolation that is better than a consolation and greater than a philosophy — a reason to live.
Your email address will not be published. Stig Dagerman Blog. Skip to content. Home Blog. What is it then that I am holding in my arms? This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Read the Psalms. God can take away the consolation of his presence, without actually taking away his presence. These are the theological virtues that unite the soul to God — and union with God is what we were created for, and what God yearns us to achieve and deepen. I hope these reflections have helped you identify both where your current desolation is coming from, and how to react to it.
If not, I recommend taking up the prayer Jesus taught us through St. Skip to content. Consolation and Desolation… What does it really mean? November 7, Fr. John Bartunek, LC 26 Comments. Share on facebook. Share on twitter. Share on linkedin. Share on email.
Share on print. Our Own Fault First, desolation can be caused by our own sin. John Bartunek , God's Will. Share this post with your friends. Stay Connected. Sign up for our free email newsletter to stay up to date on the latest from SpiritualDirection. John Bartunek, LC. John Bartunek, LC, S. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in