Reflections of an Aging Knight
by Bernard Crawley
Some years ago I noticed a Mennonite sampler with the phrase “We get too soon old and too late smart”. As I approach my 89th birthday I am increasingly aware of the truth of this. I do not know if everyone feels this way, but obviously there are some who do, hence the sampler.
Way back in the mists of time I could go to a movie for about 5 cents on a Saturday morning and watch a character called ‘Flash Gordon’ whizz around the galaxy defeating evil hither and yon. The special effects were no match for the ones in “Star Wars” (any & all episodes) but they held us little tykes spellbound and breathless any way. In that equally distant world of comics ‘Dick Tracy’ had a video wristwatch which had a startling resemblance to my great grandson’s iPad. So the technological changes that have occurred during my lifetime have not been too surprising to me. When I heard and saw my first ‘Doodlebug’ (Hitler’s V1 flying bomb) in 1944 it was no great surprise. Television too had been in our imagination long before it became a reality. However, the changes in civilized society during my lifetime sometimes astound me.
Having had a normal elementary education for my generation and due to being an ‘army brat’ my understanding of the society in which I lived was reasonable. Having been brought up as a Catholic my moral instruction was O.K. Of course, being a member of the human race & granted freedom of action by my creator I often treated his commandments as though they were merely suggestions. It has become quite clear to me that in this regard I am just like everyone else. Given that background I find myself looking at our world and wondering just how we got in the mess we seem to be in today. When I came across the book “Social Justice isn’t what you think it is” by Michael Novak & Paul Adams I had a few insights which led me to think that maybe some of you younger guys might want to consider their ideas. You see, I passed my ‘best before date’ some time ago and cannot have much effect on the future, but you can. Most of you have had a far better formal education than I did, but having lived longer I have made many more mistakes than you. The mistakes we make do actually teach us something and that is why I have the temerity to offer a little advice based upon the insights I have mentioned.
The authors suggest that one of the problems with our society today is that it is aimed at the ideal of happiness for adults without regard for the duty of parents in regard to their children. There was mention on the news the other day of the fact that the current generation no longer expect to be better off than their parents. It seems to me that that is a symptom of the condition the authors describe. They point out that this stress on the individual happiness of parents has led to a weakening of bonding within families. The increasingly weird variation in what the term ‘family’ means creates undue stress on the traditional mother-father-children nuclear family. From time immemorial (even before written history) the nuclear family & its extended relationships have been the concrete foundation of human society. This is why the Church is stressing the importance of the family today.
One interesting item in the book is the mention that in medieval times the monastic system was developed to protect the knowledge of the faith from the confusion of society in general. They then mentioned the formation of a community in Florida of families which was created to protect families in the same way. I thought this was a good idea, but then realized that Catholic parishes could accomplish the same task by strengthening the family bonds within their own territory. This seems to be a task that local councils of the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Women’s League could easily handle. I know this is already being done in many isolated ways but it might help to look at it in more depth than we have up to now.