"Ah, love, let us be true

To one another! for the world, which seems

To lie before us like a land of dreams,

So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;

And we are here as on a darkling plain

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,

Where ignorant armies clash by night."

— Matthew Arnold 

I sat on a bench at the heart of the Auburn University campus adjacent to what I believe they still call "The Quad." It was a Saturday morning, the first weekend of that year's spring break week, and I had chosen to remain in Auburn in lieu of taking yet another debauched beach vacation. Accordingly, the campus was sparsely populated and absent of its regular hustle and bustle of students. 

I remember it was quite peaceful, a perfect place for quiet study. 

Yet, instead of silence and solitude, the campus was abuzz with a latent life I had failed to notice before. I suddenly became distracted as the usually banal backdrop of my college days came into unusual focus. I was struck immediately by how different the creation of man is compared to the fluidity and vastness of God's creation.

To my left in the distance, the gray concrete of Jordan-Hare Stadium jutted into the air, rising like a suspended iceberg of stone in space. For a moment, this immense castle in the air even seemed to sway between the trees. But, of course, it was the trees that were swaying with the wind, effortlessly changing the frame of that colossal man-made structure before my eyes.

I shook my head and looked down at the page in front of me. I hadn't come there to daydream — time to get to work.

I was meant to be catching up on the reading my polka-dot-socked progressive feminist of a professor had assigned for the break. I'm sorry to report Auburn University was not immune to the leftward drift of American academe, nor was my spring break immune to homework. 

The essay had something to do with revolutionary social democratic movements percolating around the globe — or some other such commie gobbledygook. The words on the page spelled out how there was now an increasing state of division, alienation, and even different degrees of war overtaking the Western world, which required left-radical protests in the name of democracy to rise up against the militarized police state and the late-stage capitalist status quo.

The message it seemed to give me was a harsh, saddening truth: 

Kill or be killed! 

Destroy or be destroyed! 

Oppress or be oppressed! 


I sighed, taking my eyes away from the page, and fixed them on the horizon. God's creation in that moment seemed much too peaceful and benevolent for this message to be true. I suppose Auburn is called "The Loveliest Village On The Plains" for a reason. A land of dreams.

That's when a very strange thing happened. At least, it seemed strange to me. 

Two bees began buzzing over my head — two big fat carpenter bees if I remember correctly. 

Against the backdrop of the blue and white sky, I watched them intensely as they began ramming and jostling one another for territorial dominance in that new season of spring. They were unmistakably at war. 

Descending with rapid pace from twelve feet above, I then witnessed one bee best the other, pinning his opponent in mid-air and violently smashing him to the earth. The conquered bee then lay there smote and twitching on the ground, as the other bee patiently hovered a few inches above to make sure his enemy would soon become as static as the concrete below. The twitching eventually stopped, and the victor ascended into the air.

For a few moments, it seemed God's creation had confirmed my homework's ominous imperative. 

Kill or be killed! 

But then a much more rebellious notion stirred in my heart and rose to my mind, as outraged feeling transformed into liberating thought. 

We are not bees. We are more than the clever descendants of apes. We cannot be reduced to lowly animals shackled by the necessity of our instinct. We, human beings, are something more — something made of divine spark with the ability to rise above nature's cruel fates and stand strong like stone structures in the sky.

Since that day on Auburn's campus, I occasionally revisit this odd memory and its insight, especially when the world seems "a darkling plain swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight where ignorant armies clash by night." 

I do indeed fear the bad omen that politics is losing its pretense — that the more the struggle for political power comes to dominate our personal lives, the more beastly men will continue to behave out of what they perceive to be necessity and instinct. 

Maybe, if we are more true to one another, love, we will remember we are much more than political animals.

Joey Clark is a native Alabamian and currently, the host of the radio program News and Views on News Talk 93.1 FM WACV out of Montgomery, AL M-F 9 am-12 noon. His column appears every Tuesday in 1819 News. To contact Joey for media or speaking appearances as well as any feedback please email newsandviews931@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819news.com

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