March 13, 2017
STEPHEN IPPOLITO writes from Australia:
When I was just 17, many years ago, I met a very wise man who was then almost 100 and whom, unfortunately, I was only ever to meet that one time.
Rudolfo Cafiero came to Sydney in what was then still the British colony of New South Wales in the late 1890’s, just a few years before federation, from his native Meta di Sorrento, on the Bay of Naples. He had been a ship’s captain like many in his wider family, but his own branch had traditionally been avvocati (lawyers), and magistrates. Each of his father and grandfather had served their community in both capacities.
After retiring from work, Rudolfo thereafter spent most of every day in his library. He was a noted recluse. On the day that I met him, he had come to our house because there was a party to celebrate my matriculation and my becoming the first in my family to win a place at University where, he had heard, I would study law. It was the legal connection that drew him.
Rudolfo spoke little to anyone but towards the end of the evening he approached me and said: “Stefano,” (35 years later and he remains the only person to have ever called me that) “Let me give you the same advice my father gave me as I set out on my path as a young man. He himself received the advice from his own father and it will aid you both as a lawyer and as a man.”
Rudolfo continued: “In all things in life be guided by the answer to the old riddle: If you count the tail as a leg, how many legs does a donkey have?” I answered, “Five.”
The answer of course is not five, but four.
“It will always be four,” he said.
“Calling a tail a leg does not make it one. Merely calling something or someone by a name or label does not make it so…things are what they are and the truth is always what it is. Pretending doesn’t change reality. Recognise all things for what they truly are and act according to that truth. “
The 17-year-old me heard the old chap out respectfully and thought his advice sounded sage enough but obvious and trite because, being 17, I could not understand its profundity. I had not met and grappled with life yet.
I thought little more about my great-grandfather and nothing at all of his advice for years afterwards.
It was not until my 40s that I came, gradually, to see how rarely, if ever, in the rush of daily life do we stop to ponder the truth of something or someone and delve behind the superficial appearance or the title.
“There is no such thing as objective truth” is the message with which we in the West are daily bombarded. It is a deadly ailment at the heart of our society. For us in the West, nothing at all — no idea or value or deed — is of itself good or bad. Nothing is of itself life-affirming or life-denying.All moral systems and cultures are equally valuable and valid we are told — no matter that experience and common sense tell us differently. The value of everything lays in the eye of the beholder. (After all, “who am I to judge?”).
Perhaps the reason why the nations of central and eastern Europe are showing us the way to stand up to the globalist bullies is that these were the very societies who bore the yoke of Marxist-Leninism for decades and experienced first-hand how degrading it is to live under social orders predicated on moral relativism and rejection of the very idea of truth.
As a culture we need to pause and reflect.
We need to think a great deal more than we do upon the essential truth that objective truth exists. It is unwavering, immutably real and ultimately life-affirming.
Posted by Laura Wood in Uncategorized