Doing One’s Duty, and the Bomb

From the files of police who do their duty, unlike the police in the recent Florida massacre, who did less than their duty, the officer who took the place of the female hostage in the recent terrorist attack in southern France, Arnaud Beltrame, is to be commended.

As the all-too familiar story goes, yet-another ‘radicalized’ Muslim immigrant, whose name, yes, was on an ‘extremist watch list’, and whose name deserves not the fame of publication, went all Allahu-Akbar, killing three people, wounding a number of others, taking some hostage in a grocery store, before commandos stormed in, killing said radical, but not before he had shot the heroic lieutenant-colonel, who is currently in critical condition (update: Officer Beltrame died today, requiescat in pace). Pray for him, for the dead, the wounded, and for the deceased assailant.

Pundits are wondering how and when the killer, who had until this point been involved only in ‘petty crime’, got ‘radicalized’ and went full-jihad. That term, radicalized, as I mentioned once or twice before, means ‘going back to the root’, and root of Islam is steeped in violence and coercion, of spreading its ‘faith’ by force and fear.

The more of this religious culture a country imports, the greater the likelihood of such violence it can expect. So we have more police, more checkpoints, more security, more bollards blocking sidewalks, more fear and anxiety. It is to the point that as you wander through the grocery store looking for that ripe block of camembert, humming to yourself, paraphrasing Don McLean’s all-American ballad ‘will this be the day that I die’?

While nations have a duty to welcome the refugee, they also have a duty to protect their borders, without which there is such thing as a ‘nation’, nor a country, nor customs, traditions, a national religion and cohesive culture. But, then, what now is the religion and the culture of France? Both nature and nations abhor a vacuum, and something will inevitably rush in to fill the empty space. And some of what is rushing into France does not bode well for the future of this first daughter of the Church, wherein, unless the Church can turn things around, soon the only ‘religious identity’ worth its salt may well be that of the Prophet.

On the notion of duty, it is incumbent upon governments to work within their financial means, and not burden their populace to the umpteenth generation with crippling debts and taxes. The United States just passed a budget worth a cool $1.3 trillion, a figure so vast no one can visualize it. Trump said he would veto the gargantuan budget bill, which also ran to over 2,000 pages no one read, but in the end he signed in resignation, admitting that at least America would have the best and brightest nuclear arsenal, one that the Commander-in-Chief hopes ‘we never have to use’. Well, if we did use it, not many of us would be left around to regret the fact.

I wonder how far in debt can America go before the deck of cards comes a-tumblin’ down? This mesmerizes me, and I also wonder who is holding all that debt, and to whom are the interest payments going (this year expected to hit a trillion dollars a year…and remember, that is just the interest). The Chinese? Other Americans? Masonic illuminati gnomes in an underground cave in Belgium frolicking in piles of cash like Daffy Duck?

And while we’re hovering over the nuclear trigger, President Trump has replaced yet-another new member of Cabinet, this time John Bolton as National Security Advisor, who takes the place of H.R. McMaster, for reasons unknown. What is known is that Bolton has a reputation as a war-hawk, whose track record seems to prefer threats over diplomacy, and flexing military muscle, which in our time means technology, and not so much fighting prowess. It’s who has the biggest and fastest missiles, and is willing to use them.

It was Einstein’s Theory of Relativity that was responsible for said technology of ‘the bomb’. When the great scientist realized that the speed of light was not only a constant, but also the speed limit of the universe, he calculated that as any object approached the velocity of light, its mass would increase significantly, proving that energy could be converted into matter. And if that were true, then so was the converse, that matter could be converted back into energy. And a lot of it, equal to its mass, times the velocity of light (a very big number, 186,000 miles per second) squared.

Hence, E = mc2 , the most famous, and shortest, equation in history.

Einstein wrote to President Roosevelt on August 2, 1939, urging him to develop the proposed ‘nuclear’ bomb (so-called, since the mass of the atom is all contained in its tiny, central ‘nucleus’), before the Nazis got there first, and nuked England.

Einstein regretted penning this letter, since the Nazis never got the bomb. But someone might have, or would have, once the Relativity cat was out of the bag. To this day, the only military use of nuclear weaponry was America’s dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945, a tragedy on which I wrote last summer.

No, it seems we’re stuck with the bomb. Short of some asteroid hit or other worldwide catastrophe, disarmament is a pipe-dream, and the trend seems to be toward proliferation, as Trump beefs up America’s stockpile, and Putin shows off a Mach 10 ICBM.

Ah, well. The world will end someday, somehow, the first Pope telling us by fire, unlike the postlapsarian deluge, when “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. Hmm.

Whether it be by war, asteroid, Yellowstone caldera, or just brimstone from heaven, really matters not. We’re all headed, and destined, for eternity, and like the end of our own individual lives, no one knows the day nor the hour nor, for that matter, the method. So stay awake and sober, not least in this Holy Week.

In the time we do have here before eternity, we should do what good we can, pray for peace, for counsel, for courage, and that those with their fingers on the apocalyptic trigger will make the right decision. As the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes warns, the world stands in peril, unless wiser men are forthcoming. And wisdom in our world is in short supply.

But we can always hope, that, like the Officer Beltrame offering his life for a woman he did not know, people will in the end do what is good and fitting. Dulce et decorum est pro patribus mori, said the Romans, but better still to lay down one’s life for one’s neighbour.

A grace-filled Passion/Palm Sunday to all our readers, as we enter the solemn time of Holy Week.