Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ars Longa, Vita Longa

You can tell from my title that a little Latin is a dangerous thing.

On two recent contentious occasions I pulled the same cliché on my children: be nice to each other because "life is short." The same reply both times from the eight-year-old was no it isn't. She's right; it takes me directly to Flannery O'Connor's "The Enduring Chill," in which the aesthetically miserable protagonist is happy to be dying so he can make his mother feel bad; when he finds out he isn't dying but will be suffering from a chronic disorder, his reality shifts and he must (or is privileged) to deal with his family feelings.

Perhaps some unexpected event could separate us from our family members, in which case treating them right each day would certainly show appreciation for the other and minimize regret.

More realistically, we should be nice to each other because life is usually long, and to live it in hatred and contention, to live it without turning the heart, would leave the familiar world utterly wasted.


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