Friday, December 30, 2011

A knight of faith

My father in law died this Christmas (2011)  at the age of 89. For many of his friends and family, he was in many ways a hero, what one in ancient days you would call a knight. This I have in the days after his death reflected upon.

"In order for one to be a hero, do not so much reflect on what he does, like how he does it," says Soren Kierkegaard in Either-Or. It is, according to Kierkegaard not what you do that is important, but how to do it. This "how" includes the manner, method, gravity, sincerity, and of the resistance the individual meets in his own mind which must be overcome, and the decision and the doing of what is decided. To do something is about the action, regardless of being large or small. Everyone can do something. If you totally deserve the name hero depends on the how.

Thinking about what it means to act, requires that you ask the necessary question, "What is action?". Our time is characterized by a confusion over what action is. People has forgotten what it means to exist, and therefore are confused about what it means to act. Our times worships, what my father in law is often called "the outside, everything which is for external use". If you live in an illusion or not plays no difference in our time. Acting can obviously mean something that is done externally. This is what often is called aesthetics. Acting aesthetically can really change the world we live in, but the acting person remains unchanged. Individuals who change the world but remains even untouched and unchanged, do not satisfy the requirement to act in the strict sense, according to Kierkegaard in Either-Or.

Thoughts about death, as I have for my father in law passed away, can be done in many ways and these thoughts are in general not act. But by thinking about their own death, as one naturally does when standing face to face with it, thoughts can become action. Here lies the
development  of subjectivity, to meet oneself and ones existence in the face of death. A subjective approach of this nature is action, if it is sincere and serious enough to influence and transform the thinking's life. The action does not require any external and visible characters, but can actually remain internal and invisible to others.

Action in the strict sense is an inner action." To consider the ten options are not action, but only when I choose one of them, does the option become an opportunity." The subjective thinker is acting, because his thinking transforms himself and his life. Kierkegaard puts in Either-Or an emphasis on what happens in the soul when he decides what action is.

My father in law was a man of action and devouted believer, which was both wonderful and a paradox at the same time. His faith influenced his actions. Faith demanded of him that he resigned all his own expectations, with all the pain it might entail through a lived life, but he had a faith that God would grant them. My father in law knew that to expect the impossible, like Abraham, is unthinkable without fear. Duty, according to my father in law was an expression of God's will, and when a man does his duty, he is doing the will of God. As a knight of the faith, my father in law was absolute in his commitment to his God, and understood that this commitment is the most important thing for a human being. Finally, on Cristmans day 2011, he had to resignate, alone. Every knight of the faith is alone in his faith.

Now I am left with memories, but with a possibility. "Only by carefully reflecting on myself, can I manage to understand, how a historic Individual has carried out his life when he was alive, and only then can I understand him, when my understanding keeps him alive" (Kierkegaard, Postscript).

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