Lthrnk Chllng

Charity & Leathernecks:

I changed the "Leatherneck Tartan" button at the top right to point to the Tsunami Blogger Challenge, in case any of you should wish to keep track of it. I put it there to keep track of the Spirit of America "Friends of Iraq" Blogger Challenge.

Grim's Hall was never intended as a fundraising device, although from time to time I do like to post links to worthy charities. We don't do blog ads or tipjars here, though I see nothing wrong with either. I just think of this blog as a Hall, a gathering place for friends and warriors. We do things by the old code at Grim's Hall. This is my home, not a hotel: nobody will try to sell you anything, and nor will I accept payment in exchange for hospitality.

For that reason, I'm always a bit reluctant to post requests for reader charity. I do it anyway. The one part of the webpage that hasn't changed from the very beginning is the tagline: "A weblog on politics, ethics, mythology, history, and the heroic life." Charity is an important part of all of those things, and particularly the last.

I find as I get older that it's getting harder to live "the heroic life." There are two reasons for this. The first is the problem of age. It was easy as a youth to believe in "eating and drinking heroically." Now, I find that even at the greatest feast I eat moderately; and a grand bout of drinking only makes the head hurt, while one's thoughts turn to the long-term viability of the liver.

The second is the problem of experience. The more you learn and the older you get, the harder it is to believe that anything you do is heroic. Every day I read about, talk to, or exchange emails with men whose lives are far more heroic than mine has ever been. I have been brave. I can remember mornings hiking alone over the tops of snow-covered mountains, with all the trees sheathed in ice, so that at sunrise it was as if the world was made of gemstones. I have fought, and dared, and done much. But aside from the stories, what good has come from any of it?

There is so little that we can do for those half the world away. Even if my duties would let me go, I have no skills that would help anyone. Beyond first aid, I know no medicine. I can dig and fill, and lash things with rope, but I am not trained in electricity or plumbing.

But there are those who are, and many of them are rushing to the aid of the peoples injured in this disaster. It is a very small thing to offer them a parting gift, some small money to speed them on their way, or to purchase medicines to use when they arrive.

A small thing, but not nothing; and a thing done for people you have never met, and never will. Some would say it is still no more than duty; indeed, some would say it doesn't even meet the duties we owe. Some ethicists have raised high standards on such questions, although others have said otherwise.

Regardless of whether you consider it a duty or a glory, no one will make you do it. It is a free choice made for noble reasons. If you are choosing the heroic life, such choices are the stuff of it.

I will not say that anyone who does not give has failed his duty. I will, however, praise those that do.

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