We Happy Few

Last night, we watched a recently released film that set the wheels in my head spinning: The Help. I’ll leave a professional critique of the movie to my husband, should he ever start a blog about movies, and stick with the content. I greatly enjoyed the film. While some of the stories it includes may come as an unpalatable surprise, it accurately portrays the struggles and injustices that characterized the lives of African Americans. The movie gives an example of the status quo, and the courageous minority that stood up against it. I began watching it in a detached manner, knowing that it portrays a reality of the past.

As I gradually saw the soul of the movie, which shows the discrepancy between the role played by the nannies and maids, and the appreciation awarded them, my opinion changed. The film does not just portray the 1960s. It continues to reflect our society today. The Western world, including Europe as well as the US, proudly points to the freedom of minorities, and society’s triumph over segregation. It champions the cause of freedom and equality in the global community. Yet, it overlooks a new form of inequality that has arisen under the very mask of freedom and equality. In the last two years, for example, Shirley Chaplin, a 54 year old British nurse, and Nadia Eweida, a British Airway employee, both lost their jobs for wearing a cross necklace, and lost the legal appeals they launched on the basis of discrimination. In the U.S. doctors, lawyers, teachers and people of other professions more and more frequently have to choose between their posts and their morals. For the sake of upholding a relativistic standard toward all points of view, they are forced to drop their own. Minorities now walk free, but God is confined to the kitchen, religion is kicked out the backdoor. Ethics are kept hidden and publicly rejected when they surface to ease societal pressure.

With a status quo of relativism, and intense pressure from the social forum, it can look discouraging, even scary at times, for Christians, or people of any belief that goes against the “tolerance” flaunted by society. It’s easy to get a little discouraged about the future, especially when you’re a parent, wondering what the world’s next generations will have to offer your children. Will my children’s lives be easy or hard, safe or threatened? Will they be dragged through the courts for their beliefs? Or will they live the lives we would hope for them to live? Free, happy, peaceful, fulfilled…

In that moment of pity and disappointment in the current world, and fear of the future world, I began to feel a warm surge of solidarity and brotherhood with those of us who cling to the soul of society, to the Divine Help that gives meaning, direction and hope to life, to the values that instinctively unite all humanity, telling us what is wrong. Perhaps there are fewer such people in the world now than before, and perhaps we are spread out across the world, struggling with similar difficulties in different states and countries. But, in reality, that only makes us closer together, and only makes the final victory, which, in one way or another, is already guaranteed, even greater. We don’t need to force our beliefs on others, because we know they are true.

While reflecting on all this, thanking God for my own life, which is a very happy one, and praying for the future of our children, I remembered one of my favorite speeches in all time. Instead of wallowing in the woes of society and bygone values, I should remember it more often, and feel privileged to be part of a happy few:

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
    To do our country loss; and if to live,
    The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
    God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
    By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
    Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
    It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
    Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
    But if it be a sin to covet honour,
    I am the most offending soul alive.
    No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
    God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
    As one man more methinks would share from me
    For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
    Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
    That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
    Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
    And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
    We would not die in that man’s company
    That fears his fellowship to die with us.
    This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
    And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
    Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
    But he’ll remember, with advantages,
    What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
    Familiar in his mouth as household words-
    Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
    Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
    Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered-
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Henry V St. Crispin’s Day Speech

1599

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