Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Strange Death-fellows: Lewis, Huxley and Kennedy

Forty-one years ago on November 23rd 1963, three famous people died: C.S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley Whether by natural causes or conspiratorial bullet(s) all three went to meet their maker on the same day. Peter Kreeft wrote a book about this strange co-incidence some years ago.

The interesting thing is how significant the work of Lewis and Huxley remains and how insignificant the works of John F. Kennedy, yet, in life, Kennedy was at one time the most powerful man on earth.

Lewis and Huxley were mere scribblers, writers in ink - - and Kennedy, the darling of Cape Cod, rich ladies and the military industrial complex, was el Presidente, the ruler of one of the most powerful countries on earth. They (Lewis and Huxley) remain; he (Kennedy) is a mere footnote, and a not too nice footnote, to history. One day, he will be only a President in a list of Presidents, as powerful in his day as the Popes of history and, eventually, as indistinguishable as the hundreds of Popes that serve only as ladder steps in a line.

Consider today. Think for a moment about those who rank and have status and are popular - - where will they be tomorrow? Where indeed? Who are the Huxley’s and Lewis’ of our age? Who are the ones who say the things that others do not wish to think about? Who are they who point out the “Hideous Strengths” and the “Brave New Worlds” of our time?

My friend Lorne Gunter recently wrote a piece about how people such as the Canadian journalist Peter C. Newman are lauded in their day for licking the boots of those whom they serve while those who have the courage to challenge the status quo are not so lauded - - people such as Ted and Virginia Byfield of the Report Magazine in Canada for example.

Gunter is, of course, correct. It is much easier to go with the flow and be the darlings of the day - - the Atwoods, the Newmans, and the Trudeaus who drifted with their times will likely be forgotten in history long after many lesser-lauded but ultimately more talented people are remembered. For every Atwood there will be an Alasdair McLeod, for every Newman a Byfield and for every Trudeau a Borowski or a Diefenbaker.

So, tomorrow, we shall raise our glasses to toast Huxley and Lewis, and Kennedy, we shall pass over in silence.

Iain T. Benson ©