Craig Vick's Scattered Thoughts

Adventures in Virtual Community

A Salute


In August of 2005 I received the terrible news that a young boy, who had been one of my Sunday School students, was killed in a road side bombing in Iraq. As I remembered his joy of life I couldn’t help but weep. I complained to God about what was to me an unthinkable waste. I found no peace in the matter. I had been for the war. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the pain and sorrow that his parents went through.


I later found a small bit of solace in a most unexpected place. Last year I read, for the first time, Don Quixote. I had never read it before because I looked at it as a comedy and I have never been all that enthusiastic about comedies. I was in for many surprises. There’s a place in the book where Don Quixote, in one of his lucid moments, gives a discourse on the topic: which is better, the life of a scholar or the life of a soldier? As I read this it became clear that I had a very different standard for evaluating a life than that of Cervantes. Cervantes’ standard was that the better life is the one that gives the most for the community. My standard was that the better life is the one that has the richest experiences. Don Quixote concludes that the life of the soldier is better because the soldier sacrifices the most and without the soldier there could be no scholars. After reading this I will never again think of the life of a soldier as wasted. It’s a precious gift. Even if the gift is wasted by politicians and policies, the life itself still stands as a life well spent.


9 thoughts on “A Salute

  1. There is a beautiful film called _Elena_, about a Greek man in search of his mother’s executioner. She had been executed in a short-lived rebellion in Greece, though she was guiltless. At the moment the guns were raised to end her life, she lifted her arms and shouted, “My children!” Though she was being executed because of somebody else’s twisted agenda, she chose what she would die for–regardless of who killed her–and left that as her legacy.

  2. Thanks Margaret,

    I’ll have to find Elena. A life for others is never wasted even if taken.

  3. Renee, my sister, was reminded of something Jim Elliot wrote before he was massacred. The quote is something like this: “He is no fool who gives up what he can’t keep in order to gain what he can’t lose.”

  4. Craig, you’re not the first scholar to discover Cervantes as philosopher. A chap named Rostand did it some years after Don Quixote was published, when he wrote of the exchange between Richeleu and Cyrano:

    Richeleu: Windmills, if you tilt with them, may cast you down, into the mire.

    Cyrano: Or up, among the stars!

    My guess is, there’s a sermon in there, somewhere!

    Your Friend,

  5. That’s a great quote Chuck. I’m sure I can find a use for it in some future sermon.

  6. craig,
    i love “man of la mancha”…. the musical from quixote… it is incredibly philosophical and sings to me strongly of hope in a dark world… that in the end, our dreams for justice will win over… that in the end, mercy triumphs over judgment. but not without sacrifice here on earth.

    oh yeah another strong wonderful theme is the idea of unconditional love and grace….

  7. Lisa,

    That’s one of my favorite musicals too. We’ll think more on Don Quixote as we get deeper into Unamuno.

  8. Thank you Craig

  9. Thank you Steven. Given your many years of military service I’m honored that you took the time to read this.

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