“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Change, they say, is the one constant we can always count on.
A constant that we human beings do not always embrace.
We all like knowing that some things will always be there.
Anchors, if you will, that help keep us tethered in the often tumultuous sea of life.
Life, it seems, is a place where we are often tossed about like a rag doll.
We yearn for the sights and sounds of those things we know and have known
that call out to us of the familiar.
I think we often call them “roots”…
Now granted a few of us embrace change, the truth is that most of us loath it.
Doors close while windows open—and yet trying to convince us that the closings
can be a good thing is an entirely different matter.
In yesterday’s post, I touched on the notion of tradition—
for me it was a bit of a family tradition…
Granted, it might be a tradition that is rooted in some good ol southern grease,
it’s a tradition none the less and one I’m glad to be able to pass on and share in.
I found that yesterday’s quote by Somerset Maugham, tradition is a guide and not a jailer
actually speaks volumes to the times in which we are now living.
And we are indeed living in some very strange times!!!
We have been pleading for life to become “normal” again, yet at the same time,
we are in the full throws of the birth pangs of unchecked helter skelter change.
It is a time when we see a society throwing out both the baby and the bathwater
along with anything else that speaks of where we’ve come from and of
the things that “they” deem as unnecessary baggage.
Tradition, to our society, is no longer seen as a warm embrace but
rather that of a jailer—a set of chains that must be severed and cut.
Be it a statue…
the name of a street or school…
a television show…
a movie, music, actors, actresses, musicians
values, morals, religion, et el.
If it was, it is to be no more.
And so it was with the recent death and passing of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, that
I was once again reminded of this notion of tradition and change.
For all of my 61 years, there are but a few things in this world that have remained constant.
That of family,
our three tier form of governing of check and balances,
the Seat of Peter…that of a pope guiding the Catholic Church,
and that of the British Monarchy.
And for those 61 years of mine, whereas various leadership has come and gone,
family has sadly come and gone, the map of the world constantly remains fluid,
the Queen, along her Prince Consort, have been what seems to be the only two worldly constants.
They wed 12 years before my birth.
She became queen 6 years before my birth, the same year my parents wed.
As far as I was concerned, she, and they, simply always…were.
Over the years the Royal family has ebbed and flowed in the fickled minds of “the people”
The relevance of a monarchy has often been questioned.
It is no secret that the Windsors are certainly a fractured family lot.
And why Americans should even care is an entirely different conversation.
And yet, Elizabeth and Philip have remained.
Philip, a bit of a curmudgeon, was known for having a wicked wit,
a twisted sense of humor who enjoyed telling off colored jokes and whose comments
would be often better kept unsaid.
Many often felt he possessed a sense of apparent arrogance.
He was assumed to be one of the haves in a world of have nots.
Yet I dare say that most generations after mine probably have no idea that Philip
was truly a product of the school of hard knocks.
His life really was that byproduct of a terrible dysfunctional upbringing.
Born royal, yet as a child he was stripped of home, throne and identity.
His family exiled.
His mother was institutionalized.
His father ran off with a paramour.
And his four sisters married Germans, moving to Germany and supporting the Nazi cause.
Philip would be left literally alone as a child.
He had no money, no home and no family to speak of.
He was the definition of a latch key kid…a kid with neither latch nor key.
He joined the Royal Navy at age 18.
He had no choice but to become a strong self made man—it was either that or
simply succumb to a cruel world, turn over and die.
I myself was not always a keen fan of Philip but this is coming from a person who
had never met nor known the man—so my perceptions came from things read and images seen.
No personal encounter so no real reason for a like or dislike.
But what I do know is that Philip believed in tradition–he was a staunch believer
of tradition and being disciplined by such.
Yet oddly, he was one who could also readily embrace change.
He demonstrated such an adaptation to change with a proclivity for the
rapid growth of technology.
Something that many of his generation often found confounding.
He also demonstrated his ability to change when the stability he had so yearned for,
found finally in his marriage and quickly growing young family, would be forever transformed.
Philip was a part of that Greatest Generation, having served as an officer in
His Majesty’s Royal Navy.
He loved the ocean and felt most at home when at sea.
He was athletic, dashing, smart and keenly disciplined.
He was a man’s man— a trait that this current culture of ours does not deem as
much of a positive trait.
Yet on the other hand, I for one find strong masculinity a refreshing and a most positive trait.
I believe in the importance of strong male figures in the lives of our growing children.
Our children so desperately need examples and guidance—they hunger for it.
They need to know and see what it means to be willing to go the extra mile.
They need to see sacrifice and even disappointment while one manages to keep that oh so
British stiff upper lip. Watching as one opts not to complain or whine…
but rather watching as one rolls up sleeves and jumps in with both feet…
and just starts doing.
Being proactive and not reactive.
Sadly and even oddly, it seems one grandson was lost despite having such a personal
Philip demonstrated such perseverance when he gave up the Naval career he so dearly loved
in order to support his young wife as a newly crowned Queen.
Going from the head of his household to suddenly having to spend the remainder of his life
always walking one step behind his wife must have been demoralizing…
and yet he never skipped a beat.
We don’t know what went on behind closed doors, but what we do know is that when
it mattered, Philip did what had to be done.
He had to renounce who he was, in order to become a young queen’s servant and consort–
renouncing himself only to have to reinvent himself.
That’s what true men do—
Elizabeth did not lord this over her husband, but rather keenly understood the mix
of emotions that came with the sudden death of her father the King and how that now
altered her marriage forever.
The important lesson here for all of us is that both Elizabeth and Philip each knew that
there was something greater than themselves…and that was
the wellbeing of a Nation and that of its people.
People like Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip matter because they teach us lessons.
They teach us that one often has to let go of self and selfish wants in order to
do for and serve others.
True leaders lead by example—not by agendas nor by self-seeking interests.
This couple has demonstrated a depth of perseverance for over 70 years.
I think we are all the better for their example…
What others offer is up to us as to what we opt to receive.
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.