Vital Signs

Don Quixote at West Point

A recent incident at West Point involving my wife and our little daughter has given us much to ponder.  The initial responses, and later silences, of the military authorities were both surprising and perplexing.  I became even more reflective and pensive, however, after my own well-informed and honest and very candid West Point classmates further illuminated my deficient understanding and corrected my illusions by their own much more deeply discerning comments.

What might a Don Quixote himself have thought, said, and done—in light of his chivalrous naiveté and generous (though often cynically mocked) illusions and his own tradition-mindedness—had he been present there and encountered this “Tremendous Trifle” and “Prodigy” in his path?  For, as we shall see, it was a sudden and surprising challenge, indeed: a somewhat staining adventure with a Very Model of a Modern M.P. Soldier.  And soon there came his Defenders, his moral supporters and protective sympathizers.

How would Cervantes himself—or  G.K. Chesterton in his Return of Don Quixote (1927)—have presented this scene and some of its implications?  For, despite our reputed modern freedoms, it is still the case that we have as many Masters as we have Moral Vices.  However, moral vices may certainly produce illusions of autonomy and freedom.

On a Wednesday morning in late October...

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