A Light in the Darkness: Charles Fawcett, Exemplar of Moral Courage

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  Gospel of John, 1:5

ac_fawcett01Maybe it’s time to demonstrate that Ned Kelly’s Pub is not only concerned with bashing liars, dissemblers and moral cowards (aka, most Western journalists and “public relations” agents.) The reason why Catherine and I fight a kind of “guerilla war” on our blog, against such vermin, is because she and I believe in the reality of Positive Good even more than we believe in the reality of Evil – because Evil’s power is limited only to negating, denying or corrupting Positive Good. (All you fellow Tolkien fans out there, take heed! The Orcs were Elves who became corrupted, and Gollum-Smeagol began his life as a Hobbit who took a wrong turn but kept his Hobbit-nature even including his love of fishing and riddles, and Saruman was a White Wizard who kept his God-given nature even beyond his willful corruption. Evil is real, but its reality is parasitical upon Positive Good.)

Catherine and I love Positive Good more than we hate its corruptions into Evil, and I’m delighted to say I’ve found a beautiful example of Positive Good, which I’d like to share with our audience.

I discovered this news – this obituary of a good and great man – through the blog of Professor Deborah Lipstadt, an American historian who has been doing a Yeoman’s job of refuting the growing “Holocaust-Denial” industry, and of exposing the recrudescence of racism and other kinds of hate-mongering in America and Europe. She writes about her pleasure in blogging about Charles Fernley Fawcett – about whom more, momentarily:

Often this blog devotes space to characters who do no good and who do much bad. It’s nice to devote space, even at this sad moment, to someone who did so much good.

I can add little to the obituary to which Professor Lipstadt linked, so please read it for yourself, here.

Shortly before he died, and evidently knowing his life was nearing the end, he inscribed by hand in a book of poetry, “With a heart full of thanks that I’ve done my best.”

What a way to end a well lived life! With simple and authentic confidence – devoid of vanity and without publicity- that you have “done your best.” As Sophocles said, “Call no man happy until he is dead”, because you can never judge the quality of a life until it is over. Tyrants and plutocratic titans like Mao and Ken Lay don’t end their lives that way – and Rupert Murdoch and Dick Cheney wouldn’t end their lives that way, if they died today – not with THAT rare, coolly corundumic, kind of peace of mind and heart – not the way Charles Fawcett did – even if they might have tried to convince themselves that they had lived good lives, as all men always tell themselves, as all men tend to lie to themselves. But Charles Fawcett was able to die with peace of mind and heart without lying to himself. He, and his moral courage, and his truthfulness incarnated and exercised through praxis, were very real. Because he made those qualities real, willfully, courageously, honestly, truthfully.

I am reminded of – although offhand I don’t remember the title or the author – a poem by an American, circa 1960s, and it went something like:

“Now I will show you something awful”, and then the poet describes a self-defense move of ripping someone’s eyes out, and then he asks, “And you, what horrible unspeakable deeds have YOU MADE YOUR LIFE WORTH?”

I think, the life of someone like Charles Fawcett, ought to remind us that we’re only alive for a few moments – very soon, very quickly, we return to dust, “ashes to ashes” as the Christians say on Ash Wednesday – and it’s a hard task to live the kind of life that would justify our killing or harming someone else to save our own lives.

Dear Reader, what is YOUR life really worth, to your fellow men? Have you ever risked your life for the sake of others, without regard for fame (let alone for material rewards or personal power), like Charles Fawcett did? Has the guiding polestar in your life been your love for truthfulness and integrity? But I’m not asking the question correctly, because truth and integrity mean nothing without charity, and Charles Fawcett was a man of courageous integrity AND charity!

St Paul wrote:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal….And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, but the greatest of these is charity. 
I Corinthians 13:1,13

And dare I say – well I will say, especially to any professional journalists or academics among our readers –there was very little in Charles Fawcett’s life which was “fair and balanced”, and almost nothing in his life or in his deeds was “objective”.

I invite all of our readers to join me in a toast (well, you know me, a series of toasts) to the life of Charles Fernley Fawcett. But I will NOT say, “May he rest in peace”, because he ended his life in the kind of “peace which surpasses understanding” to which we, the still living, can only aspire. We are not yet “resting in peace”, but his life is, in a rare and rarified way, the only way of any kind of eternal life, the only kind of eternal life.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Life is in session! Ladies and Gentlemen, ARE YOU PRESENT?



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16 Responses to A Light in the Darkness: Charles Fawcett, Exemplar of Moral Courage

  1. HKSojourner says:

    Geek correction of the day:

    Gollum/Smeagol was not originally a Hobbit per se, but rather derived from a race that were distant cousins of the Hobbits.

  2. Ned Kelly says:

    Ah, so he was Irish then.

  3. Ned Kelly says:

    I mean, Tolkien modeled the Hobbits on the English, ergo Smeagol was Irish. And leave it to an Irishman to obsess for hundreds of years over how the English tricked him and stole something from him. “Thieves! They’re tricksy thieves!”

  4. C.A. Yeung says:

    Sojourner and Ned,

    You guys got me digging all my Tolkien archives. From what I can find, Smeagol was a descendent from the Stoors, which would have been the ancestors, rather than the cousins, of the Hobbits. It sounds more like Tolkien is modelling Smeagol on a demented form of the last Viking, instead of the Irish.

  5. Ned Kelly says:

    No, Catherine. The analogy of the Vikings in the Hobbit Shire, would be Men like Strider/Aragorn.

    The true analogy is:

    Hobbits = Anglo-Saxons

    Men = Vikings

    Smeagol’s tribe, the Aborigines of the Shire, = the Aboriginals of the British Isles, whose contemporary exemplars are the Irish.

    Irishman/Smeagol: “They – those nasty Hobbitses (the English) are THIEVES! TRICKSY, PERFIDIOUS ENGLISH! They STOLE from usssss!……”

  6. HKSojourner says:

    Honoured to be designated Frodo, though prefer to be Pippin, the cheeky young ‘un.

    “Smeagol’s tribe, the Aborigines of the Shire, = the Aboriginals of the British Isles, whose contemporary exemplars are the Irish.”

    You left out the Welsh, old boy.

  7. Ned Kelly says:

    Oops, you’re right. That was sloppy of me, to forget that the Welsh are the aboriginal British, and the Irish are really displaced Africans.

    By the way, we’ve added another character to the Tolkien game in the above post. “Saruman’s Hag”, see just beneath Saruman, and a relevant video clip about her.


  8. C.A. Yeung says:

    Ned Kelly said, “… the Welsh are the aboriginal British, and the Irish are really displaced Africans.”

    Oh dear! I hope Mel Gibson is not reading this. God knows what kind of English/Jewish conspiracy he is going to film about next.

  9. Ned Kelly says:

    Mel Gibson is one of those types of Irish Americans who think the English crucified Jesus under the influence of an international conspiracy of Jews, Communists, FDR and Churchill.

  10. Ned Kelly says:

    By the way, Catherine, when I saw you write “Sojourner and Ned”, for a moment I had a Freudian slip of consciousness and thought you wrote, “Sojourner and Nerd.”

    I guess that means that when it comes to being a Tolkien enthusiast,
    even a heavily armed Australian bandit in a makeshift helmet can be a nerd.

  11. Charles Fernley Fawcett was a dearest friend since my adolescent years .Please read my blog for a remembrance on Charlie. I spoke to him just a few days before his death. His voice was the same joyful and strong voice, but something pierced me through the heart. I would never speak to Charlie again in this world or on this sphere.

    He also helped many Muslims. I shall be writing about Afghanistan and Morocco.

    Loved your post on Charlie Thank you. . Enjoy Ned’s Pub even if I am abstemious.

    Contessa Isabella Vacani

  12. Ned Kelly says:

    Ms Isabella, I’m grateful for your comment and satisfied to be informed that what I wrote about him has met with the approval of
    one of his close friends. I’ll take a look at your blog shortly.

  13. Jeanne Rejaunier says:

    Charlie was a dear friend of mine as well. I have posted a remembrance of him on Contessa Isabella Vacani’s website, and also please see the memorial slide show honoring Charlie on my YouTube channel:

    “Charles Fawcett: Celebrating the Life of an Incredible Man.”

    Jeanne Rejaunier

  14. Ned Kelly says:

    Dear Ms Rejaunier,

    A warm welcome to you (and a virtual glass of any Australian wine of your choice), and thank you so much for contributing to my blog yet one more remembrance of Mr Fawcett from yet another one of his friends. Obviously I never met knew him personally; therefore I am surprised to be honoured by hearing comments of approbation of what I have written, now from two of his true friends.

    Absent your instructions to the contrary (lawyers call this “self-executing authority” ;-), I will take the liberty of posting a link to your above referenced article posted on Contessa Vacani’s blog: http://isabellavacani.blogspot.com/2008/02/more-memories-about-charlie.html

    …well written – because so personal and authentic (or as my alter-ego-bandit aspect would say, “This woman doesn’t talk bullshit”) – and if you don’t mind my saying so, I agree with Contessa Vacani’s assessment of your own photo as (in her words) “attractive”, or as I would say, “yeah, she’s alright!”
    And my Lady, Catherine – another favoured daughter of Venus – agrees.

    And about the musical background of your youtube tribute to Mr Fawcett: I appreciate how the American military melody, “Taps” was interpreted – in your youtube tribute – in a very life-affirming way, not like final music about “the end”, but in a jazzy way suggesting a continuing song, a continuing story, a continuing life.

  15. Good Morning Ned . How are things down at the Pub”

    Your erudite and sensitive comments in reference to Jeanne Rejaunier’s tribute to Charlie Fawcett on YouTube are bang on.
    I t is 10:04 in the morning here in the Italian Riviera and I shall have my domestic open a bottle of Gavi dei Gavi which I will quaff as a toast to Charlie and to you, to Jeanne and to all the CHARLITES during a luncheon which I am hosting on this rainy and dark day. Our Mediterranean is raging before our eyes.

    This is a pub after all, is it not?

    Now, now don;t make one of your revolutionary retorts about the fact that I am unable or unwilling to open a simple bottle of stout. As a pianist, I am very sensitive about my hands and have a horror about cutting them in any way.

    By the way, I am intrigued by your comments on my essay on Chet Baker and drugs. I always considered him the James Dean of Jazz, only more handsome-
    once upon a life.

    To be continued.

    Contessa Isabella Vacani

  16. Ned Kelly says:

    Dear Isabel,

    Thank you SO much for gracing my vulgar pub (well, my Lady Catherine, who is the descendant of many generations of Chinese scholars, is UNLIKE me, unlike I who am a bandit descended from Scottish and Irish thieves!)…
    ….well, thank you, Isabel, for making my pub a BIT less vulgar, with your company! 😉 🙂

    Not to mention your beauty and the beauty of your friends whom you have invited here (including the eloquent, pretty and CREATIVELY melodious Ms Rejaunier, whose lovely red hair reminds me of the thick red hair of my sisters – who, like me, are also descended from bandits and pirates of the North Sea, but never mind…. 😉

    And as you have said that you will “quaff a toast to Charlie and to you” – what, to ME? You mean, I will be toasted in the same breaths which toast Charles Fawcett?

    Wow! Now THOSE are the BEST kind of drinking-companions (either in person or virtually via internet) which I have ever had. Except of course for my Dad who died before the internet-age. EXCEPT for a few young Russians who attacked me in 1998 because they heard me speaking English, and then one of them took a punch at me, and I ducked, and then when he was on the ground (with his nose and his eyeglasses broken) I offered him my hand to pick him him up from the ground, and I offered him a cigarette (a Russian cigarette), and then he and his friends said to me, “AH! You smoke RUSSIAN cigarettes! (Made from American tobacco, but they didn’t know that. 😉 YOU are a friend of Russia! We invite you to drink vodka with us, to toast friendship between America and Russia, and remember our old alliance against the f—ing Fascists!”

    Yep, THOSE guys were some of the best drinking companions I ever had, those Russian bastards who attacked me in one moment and then became my friends the next moment after they got a sense of what I was made of, what my “mettle” was.

    Anyway. Isabel, you have asked me, your host, “this is a pub, is it not?”

    Yeah. Yes it is. So please just be my guest and sit down, and order any potation of your choice, in good company. And as for your worry about your pianist’s “sensitive hands” opening a bottle of stout, well…

    …first I’ll attempt to open one with my teeth. But no, I have perfect teeth and I’m a vain man. So…

    …well all we need is a bottle-opener. That’s the way of the Sufis, AND the way of all sensible Buddhists, AND the way of all sensible Christians – and sensible “atheists” too. Just use a bottle-opener. Very simple.

    And Isabel, I promise you that neither your hands nor your words will ever be “cut” or otherwise wounded in my pub. Thank you for bringing your gifted, healing hands to my place.

    And as you said “to be continued”, please do continue.

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