How should one treat the death of a public intellectual?
Sir Roger Scruton recently left this veil of tears having succumbed to the sword of Damocles which hung upon him for six months prior. A man not without his fair share of detractors, the distinguishing nature of Scruton’s response to criticism illuminates his thoughts written for the Spectator prior to his death, namely that life means ‘gratitude’.
The term gratitude, coming from the medieval Latin ‘gratitudinem’ may seem a strange note to take when you were the subject of a hitjob. In his reluctance to cultivate ire against the New Statesman you see the definition of conservatism for which he held dear ― ‘The realisation that it is easier to tear down than it is to conserve’.
In an age where it seems ipso facto the case that when something is marred by the age in which it existed, then it necessarily should be expunged from the national consciousness; It is refreshing to see an instance of turning the other cheek.It was only the defence of his friend Douglas Murray, heeding the message of Edmund Burke that for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, that his name was cleared.
But what do these trials and tribulations matter in relation to the death that waits for us all? Again, the link between Burke and Scruton is drawn with Burke’s quote that ‘Society is a partnership of the dead, the living and the unborn’; being called ‘oikophilia’ by Scruton.
Oikophilia means love for one’s home. This comes naturally to most people, the citizens of the Republic of Ireland being a prime example of loving one’s home. However, this state of being like all desired states takes effort to cultivate. From childhood to adulthood we are told, and indeed ought to be told that we share this realm with those who we may come to dislike.
What is to be done with these people? In death, one’s enemies and one’s friends are levelled by the finality that comes to all. Hopefully, the spirit of gratitude will lead us to a state of being that resolutions with our perceived enemies come in life as opposed to in death.