Thursday, June 16, 2005

Downing Street memo - Letter to a German friend

You said to me "The greatness of one's country is beyond price. Everything is good that contributes to its greatness, and in a world where everything has lost its meaning, those lucky few, who, like us young Germans, are fortunate enough to find a meaning in the destiny of our country, must sacrifice everything else to it." I loved you then, but at this point we diverged. "No," I told you, "Everything must not be subordinated to a single end. There are means which cannot be excused, and I should like to be able to love my country, and still love justice." You retorted "Well you don't love your country."

That was five years ago. We have been separated since then. And I can tell you that not a single day has passed during those long years without my remembering your remark "You don't love your country." No, I didn't love my country, if pointing out what is unjust about what one loves amounts to not loving. No, I didn't love my country, if insisting that what one loves measure up to the finest image you have of her amounts to not loving, then I do not love my country.

That was five years ago, and many men in France thought as I did. Some of them have already been stood up against the wall facing the twelve little black eyes of German "destiny", and those men, who in your opinion, did not love their country, did more for it than you can ever do, for their heroism was that they had first to conquer themselves. But I am speaking here of two kinds of greatness, and of a contradiction about which I must enlighten you...

-Albert Camus, First Letter to a German Friend

downing street memo


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chilling, and profound. This is a Camus for our times. I've never read these passages before. Thank you. I'll remember them for years to come.


17/6/05 20:13  

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