In ancient times, firebearers rode ahead protecting coals to light a signal fire for their tribe. In our time, we strive to do the same with our culture.
In the book “The Road”, Cormac McCarthy created one of the darkest visions of human nature. A world without society, community, or trust, and where death was ever present. Throughout, the man and his son endure starvation, helplessness, the oppressive cold, and worst of all: the depravity of their fellow man. Seeing horrors beyond imagining, the boy begins to give up. He begins to want to die. He cries to his father, telling him that the fragile beliefs he was given; stories of helping those in need, of being kind, of having hope are false, and he would rather be dead than live a lie in a dying world. The father tells him that they can’t: They’re carrying the fire.
McCarthy doesn’t define the fire. The fire is something that’s handed down through the generations. It’s an ethic, a way of existing that preserves the knowledge of those who came before us. It’s the selfless use of this knowledge to ensure others are protected from existential threats of the past. The fire is what sustains us when the odds are against us at every turn. When the worst of people have the most power, and when reason fails leaving us alone with instinct and determination.
Native Americans tribes had a firebearer: One who was dedicated to keeping the fire. He’d carry embers or tinder in the hollowed buffalo horn, and ride ahead of the tribe when they moved. Arriving alone to face whatever dangers lurked, it was the firebearer’s job to start the fire which would provide warmth for his people, and signal them through the night. He took the risks knowing it was his duty to endanger himself, rather than allow all his people to struggle against the cold under the darkness. He shoulders this burden to allow those more vulnerable to have the comfort of the group.
In this way, the man in “The Road” knows that he and his son travel this bitter path alone, away from the light of those things that make life worth living. He knows that together, they’re taking the last light of humanity to somewhere safe. Someplace away from the violence and oppression. And he knows he’s carrying something precious and infinitely valuable.
Some among us are called upon; by our nature, by our culture, by heritage… we are called to forge ahead through the sticks and rocks of the unthinking mob. We’re called to carry the fire through the lonely dark. We’re called to deliver it safely so that the generations that follow us have a choice between servitude or freedom. Liberty over the gilded yoke. For those of us called to carry the fire, the road will be hard, lonely, and dangerous.
Ignore the Static
Society is filled with noise these days; who and what is toxic, acceptable, politically correct, ad nauseum. Ignore all that. Here’s the truth of the matter: You’ve got to be able to adapt.
Carrying the fire means we have to be alive. That means have an eye towards self preservation, preservation of skills and knowledge that allow humans to survive and form advanced societies, and don’t get caught up in the politics. Eventually, the politics will catch up to us, and at that point, our tribes have to survive in order to need a fire. In the meantime, devote yourself to becoming resilient. Done right, it can be pretty enjoyable, it’ll help you bond with your family and friends; and it’s generally more satisfying.
Build a base of skill that is stronger and proven over the millennia to outlive the Fate of Empires.
There’s no reason to get caught in pointless arguments. Our job is simply to be ready to carry the fire for those who need us. We’re most successful if we set the example. The fire may die to nothing more than coals as our world changes, but if we die, they die with us.
What we need is to find and support one another. Work as hard as you can at being beyond reproach. Let your every action speak to your worthiness and willingness to carry the fire. Be an example for others to follow; Mentally, Physically, Tactically, and Technically. Don’t waste time trying to fight against the mob or their irrationality. Be better than the average. Educate yourself, get or stay fit, and strengthen your character. We will outlast this, as our principles have outlasted the Dark Times in the past. No one knows how long the road is, only that if we stop walking it, the fire will die.
Teach those who will learn, have purpose, stay ready, and carry the fire.