This article deals with an age-old enemy which must, at all cost, be withstood.
| It is written: “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; rage, rage against the dying of the light.” It is sadness most acute, a bowing of the head kind of sadness. It is sadness that makes one rage in the face of it. Oh, we lament, why do things have to die? But now, and though the question is such that a child would ask with the intention of being answered, it is not our intention to address it. Rather, we would address the rage so profoundly felt.
Rage, does anyone really know what it is? How many have studied, theorized about, and even explained rage to the satisfaction of many. But I do not share their satisfaction. There are too many transpositions in those words of explanation, and too many symbols missing in the equation. But permit, if you will, yet one more foray into this unknown. This scribe will submit words for your consideration, but they will answer no question. Rather, give your attention to those spaces between the words, and to those spaces between the spaces, for therein resides the prize we seek.
This world seethes with a perpetual rage. It is more than reasonable to equate History’s most heinous atrocities with this fact. Those winds that swirl around this tremulous globe carry with them these fits of caustic and murderous ire. And, if we could see beyond the veil of mortal atmosphere, what of rages activity would we witness? What does rage do? Does rage wait for its single cue from within the shadowed soul? Does it anticipate sweet release? Will rage take but a small thing for a provocation? Through past ages it has done these things and more. Rage is so very clever. It will always be what it has to be until it can be what it wants to be. And when it is called forth and slithers from its dark place and breaks forth into light, it will know no mercy or pity. It will injure and maim from sheer delight. Oh, to abase, to place the barbed arrow in that vulnerable heel and smell acutely the blood of a wretched enemy. That is rage. But, as we have known, rage is not presently what it may soon appear to be, no, not at first. For you see, rage waits to become. It deduces what is clearly a self-evident proposition, a completion, a fait accompli, if you will. Rage is witting of what it wishes to enact, but waits for the impetus. And be aware that it will wait a thousand years if it must. It will crouch on the precipice and fold its waiting wings, transforming to stone in silent repose. But all the while, in that chrysalis of patience, it is drawing life from the appetency of fallen man. Steven Covey writes: “Rage feeds on many of the so-called daily orders of life; these are the many disorders of the mind and emotion. That which is unnatural or premature or psychopathic; all of these and many more are the essence of rage.” (Author’s paraphrase) We relate the following from Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Rhodes, and, if you will allow, my personal sidebar of history. In his book, MASTERS OF DEATH, Rhodes describes the activities of the SS killing squads that followed behind the Nazi occupation force in the Polish and Russian campaign. The SS Einsatzgruppen, as they were designated, was charged with the utter liquidation of any and all Jews inhabiting the occupied area. Rhodes describes the Einsatzgruppen’s primary task: “…organized by SS-Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler and his second-in-command, Reinhard Heydrich, to follow behind the German Army as it advanced into eastern Poland and the western districts of the Soviet Union beginning in late June 1941. The ostensible purpose of the Einsatzgruppen was to secure the rear areas from “partisans” and saboteurs. In fact, their assignment was to murder Jews, not indirectly by herding them into gas chambers but directly, by shooting them into antitank ditches, natural ravines or pits freshly dug by Russian prisoners of war.” In MASTERS OF DEATH, Richard Rhodes details the mechanisms of murder perfected through the exacerbation of a furious rage. Within the pages of Rhodes’ book are descriptions of atrocities beyond the pale of human reason, and of those miseries which prevail wherein rage reigns in its sinister and malignant glory.
And now we might ask yet one more question, but this time we will answer most succinctly. Did the Nazis love? The answer is yes, they did. The problem is not whether they did or not, but how they did. Some were in the category of common criminals of a most virulent strain. Their expressions of love provide a treasure trove for psychoanalytical study. Others proved to be decent and God fearing momentarily caught in a fatal attraction. From the latter we see a firmly established self and nationalistic love, while the former exuded a visceral and acidic rage. But how do we couple such love with rage whether individual or conjoined? It may actually be quite perceptive to couple self-love in juxtaposition with rage. They can exist in a somewhat discordant harmony. No two could present a more perfect coupling and bring forth more potentially baleful and psychopathic children. And these children are often filled with an aqua regia of caustic hatred. They can be twins of disaster and chaos with a certain appetency for life’s blood. The blood these wished for in particular was that of the Jews. The Nazis were an aneurism of fear and death exploding across the landscape of history. Their frightening rage was against those whom they considered an obscenity against superior culture. And so we have in the Nazis one of the most fascinating epochs of history, the rage and self-love that fueled it, as well as symphonic paradox.
But the history of human conflict is no mere periodic backdrop for man’s expressions of rage. This world is continually shrouded in the black of shadow and mourning. It has witnessed that long dark cortege snaking through the fields of rage and the suffering wrought. And soaring high above on that iniquitous thermal as it spies upon its good work is that ole dragon. And as it silently glides above its fertile ground its membrane wings shadow the endless black column winding through withered fields of Antietam’s 22,000 casualties, and Shiloh’s 23,000; it smiles over the Marne and Verdun. It scrutinizes the horrific brutality as the shrouded column writhes through the ironic gates of Auschwitz, and traverses the putrid earth of Babi Yar, anticipating its arrival at the iconic My Lai and lesser known Son Thang. But history never slumbers. Since these times mentioned there have been more wars and rumors of war, seemingly never to end. This is the work of perpetual rage as it lives in this world, and, may God forbid, in each of us. This is, indeed, our lot, our experience. It should be our prayer that we could extinguish this dragon's withering breath. Alas, for now at least, we can only do what there is within our power to do. Jesus said, "The poor you always have with you." As yet, He has not been proven wrong. Rage, too, will be with us as long a we inhabit our tremulous globe, for what is it that could extract it from the bosom of men.
So, as that ancient dragon circles above to see that his good work continues, let it not be seen to continue in us. As men rage against those who would live in peace, let us stand to their faces with our unwavering resolve. Rage may never quit in employing all of its machinations, but as long as good men have the will to be counted, rage shall never prevail.