I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Power of Memory

I’m still reading Pat Buchanan’s State of Emergency and one chapter in particular really has me thinking. The chapter is entitled “What is a Nation?” He points out that two basic definitions exist.

The first one, held by our current president and neoconservatives at large, says that a nation is her common set of abstract ideals, like freedom. The other camp says that a nation is her common language, faith, culture, and memory—or as John Jay said in Federalist No. 2: “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people—a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in manners and customs…”

We could argue about which definition is right (for the record, I’m in the second camp), but I don’t necessarily want to do that here. Instead, I want to talk a little more about the power of memory. Buchanan makes this statement in his book about Stalin. “Stalin yet knew that men do not die for secular creeds like Marxism or Leninism, but for the ‘ashes of their fathers and the temples of their gods.’”

Memories are powerful. Whether it’s rubbing shoulders with a co-worker who has become a blessed confidant, or with a best friend in a coffee shop on the weekend, or with a spouse in a hospital room who pledges unending support against a common enemy like cancer—those who “do life” together form bonds (and memories) in the trenches and it causes them to go the extra mile for each other.

I was a teenager when my grandfather died, but watching the way my grandparents interacted for the last year and a half of his life can only be described as beautiful. Sometimes they laughed about their struggles. Sometimes they said things to each other that only the other person could have possibly understood. And I’m guessing that sometimes they cried together.

We’re all in the process of forming bonds and making memories with people. When we recognize this, life takes on added meaning.


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