A Well-Lived Life

A Life Well Lived

by Andy Joppa


“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

Mark Twain


On June 8, 2018, Charles Krauthammer, penned (in part) the following letter:


“My doctors tell me their best estimate is that I have only a few weeks left to live. This is the final verdict. My fight is over…I believe that the pursuit of truth and right ideas through honest debate and rigorous argument is a noble undertaking. I am grateful to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny. I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”


By now, I’m sure you’re aware, the great Charles Krauthammer is near death.  For me, few deaths generate a deeply felt emotional response or suggest the potential of a near unfillable vacuum.  The death of Dr. Krauthammer will do both. Not everyone is replaceable…some leave a yawning chasm in the human experience.  The last few months have been replete with reports that his health was improving, but that has unfortunately not proven to be the case.  I’ve had few real heroes in my life…Charles Krauthammer is near the top of the list.


Krauthammer overcame the burden of quadriplegia to live a life to which most fully enabled people could only aspire…but never reach.  A truly remarkable man.  Unlike all too many in the modern world whose bodies are free, but their minds are caged, Krauthammer was restricted in body, but his mind was free to go wherever his powerful intellect could take him. Many who watched him on television were not even aware of his health problems.  He never approached his audience looking for a special allowance because of his circumstance. His sense of humor was unwavering.


Of course, I’ll offer the obligatory comment…I didn’t agree with everything Krauthammer said…I would argue with him often as he spoke on TV. I’ve been wrong a lot…and…I presume he was also wrong on occasion.  This doesn’t matter.  Krauthammer was an ally of anyone who cared about ideas and believed that it was only their open, unrestricted, debate that offered the chance for humanity to move forward.  He believed it was the essence of the human process.


I try to consider who stands in the wings waiting to pick up the banner that was  ably carried by Charles Krauthammer for so many years.  Unfortunately, at this point, there is no one who seems able or willing to enter the fray with the same strength, integrity and objectivity of Krauthammer.  Below, I’ll let the good doctor speak for himself.  If you’re not familiar with his ideas or his approach, these comments will be a sampling of who he was…for, he was his ideas. (bold is mine)


·        “In explaining any puzzling Washington phenomenon, always choose stupidity over conspiracy, incompetence over cunning. Anything else gives them too much credit.”


·         “The trouble when people stop believing in God is not that they thereafter believe in nothing; it is that they thereafter believe in anything. In this century, ‘anything’ has included Hitler, Stalin and Mao, authors of the great genocidal madnesses of our time.”


·         “The greatest threat to a robust, autonomous civil society is the ever-growing Leviathan state and those like Obama who see it as the ultimate expression of the collective. Obama compounds the fallacy by declaring the state to be the font of entrepreneurial success. How so? It created the infrastructure – roads, bridges, schools, Internet – off which we all thrive. Absurd. We don’t credit the Swiss postal service with the Special Theory of Relativity because it transmitted Einstein’s manuscript to the Annalen der Physik.”


·        “I don’t really care what a public figure thinks. I care about what he does.Let God probe his inner heart.”


·        “Politics is the moat, the walls, beyond which lie the barbarians. Fail to keep them at bay, and everything burns.”


·        Highfalutin moral principles are impossible guides to foreign policy. At worst, they reflect hypocrisy; at best, extreme naivete.”


·        “America is daily attacked for cowboy interventionism and arrogant unilateralism–then simultaneously attacked for not acting unilaterally to cleanse the planet of all tyranny.”


·        “Know thyself’ is a highly overrated piece of wisdom. As for knowing the self of others, forget it. Know what they do and judge them by their works.”


·        “To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil. For the first side of this equation, I need no sources. As a conservative, I can confidently attest that whatever else my colleagues might disagree about—Bosnia, John McCain, precisely how many orphans we’re prepared to throw into the snow so the rich can have their tax cuts—we all agree that liberals are stupid. We mean this, of course, in the nicest way. Liberals tend to be nice, and they believe—here is where they go stupid—that most everybody else is nice too. Deep down, that is. Sure, you’ve got your multiple felons and your occasional war criminal, but they’re undoubtedly depraved ’cause they’re deprived. If only we could get social conditions right—eliminate poverty, teach anger management, restore the ozone, arrest John Ashcroft—everyone would be holding hands smiley-faced, rocking back and forth to “We Shall Overcome.”Liberals believe that human nature is fundamentally good. The fact that this is contradicted by, oh, 4,000 years of human history simply tells them how urgent is the need for their next seven-point program for the social reform of everything.”


·        “For the purposes of a pluralist society, the Bible is not about fact. It is about values. If we were a bit more tolerant about allowing the teaching of biblical values as ethics, we’d find far less pressure for the teaching of biblical fables as science.”


·        “…every once in a while, a single person arises without whom everything would be different. Such a man was Churchill. After having single-handedly saved Western civilization from N*zi barbarism–Churchill was, of course, not sufficient in bringing victory, but he was uniquely necessary–he then immediately rose to warn prophetically against its sister barbarism, Soviet communism.”


·         “I’m not a global warming believer. I’m not a global warming denier. I’m a global warming agnostic who believes instinctively that it can’t be very good to pump lots of CO2 into the atmosphere but is equally convinced that those who presume to know exactly where that leads are talking through their hats.”


·        “It is part of the trivialization of politics that we give endless attention to the inner life of the politician – his private thoughts, his inner demons – at the expense of his outer life.” 


·        “The playbook is well known. As Czech president (and economist) Vaclav Klaus once explained, environmentalism is the successor to failed socialism as justification for all-pervasive rule by a politburo of experts. Only now it acts in the name of not the proletariat but the planet.”


·        “Orwell was wrong. You don’t need repression. You need only the sensory overload of an age of numbingly ephemeral social media.”


·        “Obsession with self is the motif of our time.”



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