Smoking is an exercise of men who expect to die. I find myself recognizing my mortality more often; and the thought sometimes happens in conjunction with that particular exercise. I often reflect that men have been cut off from life in the prime of their youth, yet I continue to persist. I feel it a privilege, and I am pleased by this happy circumstance. From the vantage point this thought gives me, I glimpse the work of infinity. Life has always begun with the same things: hours, days, years, births and deaths. These numbers follow one another in regular succession and are multiplied indefinitely. Infinity drives events onward multiplying itself upon them. Nation rises up against nation, brother against brother, and sword against sword. The word “sword” is peculiar and descriptive of men. Our “words” weren’t enough so we thrust them into the inwards parts of others by adding an “s” at the beginning. The life and flame of man found material expression and extinguished the life and flame of other men.
Over time, we have forgotten our thoughts and only remembered the sword. Thus, we blame the sword for its skillful work, for doing what it was made to do. Now, evil men wield it and we don’t understand them. We have created numerous peaceful communities and removed ourselves from evil. But, these times are only part of the regular succession of historical numbers. The same things will happen again, only we have forgotten who we are, forgotten our part in this succession of numbers. We have forgotten what caused us to add the “s” in the first place. We are evil.
We are like a man born on a ship at sea who through his adolescence has seen great waves push other men off the ship and drown them with tempestuous rage; but has also admired the tranquil beauty of the sea when it is still. He has learned to fear and love the sea. When he is older, he leaves the ship and makes his home on the land. The years are kind to him and give him a wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. All his life he watches the sea and tells his children of his seafaring adventures. But, the older he gets the more his stories lose their dangerous elements and become songs of the sea’s beauty. He loves it at a distance until one day in his frailty he wades too far in the water and drowns. His great grandchildren are affected the most by his death because they too have loved this sea from a distance like their great grandfather. A change comes over them and they remember what their great grandfather had forgotten: to fear the sea.
The heart of man is the sea: a strange mixture of evil and good. In a moment, we make swords; and in the next moment, we beat them into plowshares. We are a fountain yielding sweet water and bitter. Recently in this land, the sea has reared its evil head and drowned children with tempestuous rage, drowned the most precious among us. It spared not our young, but cruelly and mercilessly dashed them against the rocks. The rolling waves run red with the blood of the innocent; it has become the red tide stained by the acts of evil men. We who live on the land must remember the sea’s anger and learn once more the fear we have too long forgotten.