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Archive for July, 2011

freedom

Quoth Brian, coblogger:

It is not enough for a man to say “I am free;” he must learn to say “I am responsible.”

For a man to say “I am free” means “I can do what I choose”; for a man also to say “I am responsible” means “and what I choose, has consequences”. Freedom without responsibility is freedom to perform meaningless actions – a worthless liberty.

Cf. also, PJ O’Rourke: “There is only one basic human Right, the Right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes only one basic Human Duty, to take the consequences.”

Cf. also, Mike Flynn: we live in an age where what you can do is very heavily emphasised over what you should do.

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Irish dude in Germany

Depicted above, St. Kilian, an Irish dude who got martyred in Germany in the 7th century, along with two Irish friends, Sts. Kolonatus and Totnan. The citizens of W├╝rzburg parade their (rather brown) skulls around the city on this day each year, as prelude to the opening of a fair and weeks of revelry. The picture above is Kilian’s statue on the old bridge over the river Main, which has a gallery of Germans, Jews and Irish dudes important to Franconian history.

Irish dude in Manitoba

Depicted above, a polar bear, which according to the news today, is a bear of Irish descent. It would appear today has been a day for the Irish getting around a lot.

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Courtesy

A little while back, one of FPB’s posts (alas, I forget which) mentioned how diplomats sent by the Ottomans to Western Europe in the 19th century, for purposes of deciphering the secrets of the West’s economic and technological superiority, came away with the distinct impression that Europe was ruled by women. One diplomat witnessed the Austro-Hungarian emperor, one of the most powerful men in the world, riding along on horseback and then stopping to allow some random woman to cross the street. Before the automobile necessitated new regulations, it was a universal and instinctive traffic law that social superiority gives you right of way; to the poor confused Turk, unschooled in the forms of European chivalry, the emperor seemed to be acknowledging the woman as his ruler and social superior.

This stuck in my head, and it occurs to me that most of the forms of respect towards women are like that – between men, they would constitute acknowledgement of authority and dignity. One kisses the hand (and specifically the signet ring, where applicable) of princes, bishops, kings, and women; one rises in the presence of royalty, high court judges, and women; servants open doors for aristocrats and important personages, and men for women; one doffs one’s hat in the presence of royalty, funeral processions, the altar of God, and women. And, of course, one bows to a woman, and to &c. &c.

…well, one used to do these things, anyway; a lot of them have fallen by the wayside, alas. One can still open doors and tip a hat (surreptitiously), and judicious bowing and kissing of a lady’s hand usually goes down as a pleasant surprise; but standing whenever a woman enters the room would look odd, and defying traffic laws for the sake of courtesy to the gentler sex would create problems unaddressable by merely pleading the imitation of dead Austro-Hungarian emperors.

It’s tempting to blame the republicans of the world for such things, reasoning that the rejection of royalty and dignity will naturally lead to the lessening of manners and courtly conduct; but it’s probably more a side-effect of feminism – a persistent rallying cry of “treat women just like men!” is not conducive to forms of etiquette that equate women with royalty.

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