Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lost in a Dark Wood

Medieval and Renaissance artists loved to paint and sculpt  the images of philosophers and poets like Aristotle and Virgil. They were pagans but Christians believed that inspired by the Holy Spirit, they revealed, in a limited, natural way, Christ and the gospel. It was Virgil, after all, who guided Dante, 'lost in a dark wood' up the steep mountain of repentance in the Purgatorio, until, at the very gates of paradise, the poet had to turn back and return to the first circle of hell.

Yes, I know, Dr. Salvador Allende was a Marxist, albeit one who was democratically elected. He had his faults and failings, not the least of which was appointing Augusto Pinochet head of the armed forces in the forlorn hope that Pinochet could be trusted to defend democracy instead of destroying it. But he had his virtues too. Allende's very first act when he assumed power in 1970 was not to arrest all of his political opponents but to sign an executive order insuring that the poor kids who lived in the slums got a glass of milk each day to strengthen their bones and teeth. For him the larger issues of the Cold War were obscured by the tin and cardboard shacks where so many of his fellow citizens were forced to live.

Allende was the first of thousands to be killed in the coup that overthrew his government on September 11th, 1973, forty years ago today.

Marxism is rightly discredited: how can people be forced into paradise? But from the confines of the dark woods of a world where half of the people in it struggle to live on less than $2 a day, there are far worse guides than a doctor who became president of his country to give milk to poor children.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it is important to find the good in everyone and celebrate it Much to celebrate here.