Column: War gains no legitimacy through its old age

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 25, 2002

There’s a Scottish saying, which I probably shall spell incorrectly, but which as I remember goes something like this, &uot;We maun each ane dree his ane weird,&uot; And, even though I’m uncertain of the spelling, I have no trouble with the meaning. &uot;We must each one live his own fate.&uot;

Another Celtic saying I like is, &uot;God writes straight with crooked lines.&uot;

It has always seemed to me as something of a blessing to have grown up around articulate people, who had a quotation to match every situation and were quick to share the quotations.

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A professor I had once quoted to us, someone whose name I’ve forgotten, but who held the conviction that at any moment one of our ancestors could peer out from our eyes.

It seemed to me at the time a somewhat eerie conviction. Now, though less poetically, I realize that in all probability we all carry inherited mental luggage of which we are totally unconscious. Luggage we would do well to dispose of.

Almost 70 years ago while in rehearsal for the senior class’s high school play, I was severely rebuked by the teacher directing the play for pronouncing the word &uot;poetry&uot; &uot;portry.&uot;

Humiliated, I took care never to so mispronounce the word again. Years later, a professor in the English department at the University of Minnesota apologized to the class for pronouncing the word as &uot;portry.&uot; &uot;I’m from Vermont,&uot; he said. &uot;That’s how we New Englanders pronounce it. But several colleagues here in the Midwest have taken exception to my pronunciation and I’m trying to correct it.&uot;

My mother’s father died when she was 13. He was from Vermont originally. Listening to that professor I suddenly realized that the grandfather whom I had never seen had through my mother passed down to me my pronunciation of at least one word.

Because over the years of my life I have learned to love and value the time-tested, I rejoice in continuity. I know, though, that there is danger in believing that something has value simply because it has had a long existence.

I was regretting that we still think that any wrong can be settled by war. The friend to whom I was speaking, a woman I admire enormously both for her religious faith and for her innate kindness, said in some surprise, &uot;But there will always be wars, there always have been.&uot;

If the dinosaurs were capable of thinking, which is doubtful, they probably thought that there always had been and always would be dinosaurs. Their time on earth was a lot longer than ours has been up until now. They had for their main weapon bulk. Our greatest hope for survival is the ability to reason. One can only hope that we learn to do so before it’s too late.

Our protection lies in discarding the outworn methods and mistakes of our ancestors, while holding to the eternal verities in which they trusted. To see things as they are and reject what they are not gives strength.

Driving our wagons into hostile arrangements didn’t work too well, even when there didn’t seem any other solution.

Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column appears Thursdays.