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ST EXUPERY-3 - Whatever War's Outcome, France Will Be...
Whatever War's Outcome, France Will Be Different heroic and human; a glimpse of that Nation Getting Spiritual Rebirth, Thompson Says By DOROTHY THOMPSON It is not what prime ministers an-d foreign ministers said that I remembar from these never-to- be-forgotten weeks in Europe. I wrote down what they said in a diary afterward, at night The viewpoint and information were interesting, even important. But other things that people said I did not need to write down- They were words that could' not be forgotten. forgotten. It is perhaps a year since I read that beautiful book, "Wind, Sand and Stgrs," by Antoine de Saint- Exupery. It seemed to me to express express the knightly spirit of an epoch not yet born. It was hard, In it I caught society that Whitman prophesied'—a society based upon "the dear love of comrades," where differences of birth and social rank and inequality inequality of gifts were harmonized, in no regimented or mechanical order but in a symphonic music of life; the arftniration of the poet for the mechanic and the mechanic mechanic for the poet; the attraction between the gentle and the rough, each strengthening or polishing the other; a natural order of society, society, based upon devotion to a common air. A brotherhood. These airmen. I thught, know nationality no longer, in terms of geography. Th-ay fly so high, so swiftly and so far. Borders between between nations are invisible and' senseless in that transscendental sphere. When they asked me in Paris whom I wished to see, I said, "An- toine de Saint-Exupery," thinking thinking "A man at home on earth and in the sky." But he was at the front, flying a reconnaissance plane. Home On Leave Still he had two days' leave, and' so we met, in Paris. It seemed to me outrageous that he should be risking his life daily in the most dangerous of the s-arv- ices. Reconnaissance planes are slow. They fly deep into the heart of enemy country, and fly alone, photographing fortifications and factories and troop- movements. They are insouciant spies . . open" espionage dangerously arrived arrived at They cannot insinuate themselves into information, posing posing as friends and allies. They are easily detected' by the airplane finders. Casualties in their squadrons squadrons are very high. A man hardly has a fifty-fifty chance over a course of weeks or months. I told him so. After all, other men can fly planes, I said. But you can write you see things, things 'ahead.'France will need you. Europe will need you. No Rifht to Write "You are absolutely wrong," he answered. "Nobody has the right to write a word today who does not participate to the fullest in the agony of his fellow human beings. "If I did not resist with my life, I should be unable to write. And what holds true for this war has got to hold true, for everything. The Christian idea has got to be served'; that the Word is made Flesh. One must write with one's body." He tried to elaborate this, rather hesitantly. "The reason why we are in this' war, why there is a Hitler, why our whole civilization civilization is crumbling up is because this has not been so. Our words and our actions are not one. We say things and pretend to believe things, but what we say is not translated into the deed". And th-e deed is divorced from Faith, from the Word. And so, since we have not been all of a piece ourselves, personally, and in all our institutions, institutions, we have been divided souls and a divided society ..and therefore therefore we have been an impotent society. To be free means to be trustworthy. Otherwise no one is safe in freedom. A democracy must'be a brotherhood'. Otherwise it is a lie." I do not say that Antoine de Saint • - Exupery "represents" French "opinion." But he is representative representative of something growing in France and, in another way, in England. There is a mysticism of this war. Among the intelligent youth one hears fewer attacks on the Germans than, one hears against themselves. They speak of Hitler as the Antichrist, but they say that this scourge and destruction destruction have come because of their own faults. When Paul Reynaud said, in one of his last speeches, "If you say that only a miracle can save France, then I answer that I believe believe in miracles, for I believe in France," there was more than •empty pathos behind' his words. The belief in France has nothing to do with the old association of "gloire"—glory. It is marked by a profound humility. We'll Win In End I doubt whether in generations, the legend of St. Joan, of the Maid who saved France, by a miracle, because she fought with God, has been so vivid as it is now. People say quite simply, "We will win in the end, one way or another, if we are good enough." They know now, in France, that frivolous waste of time, inconsequential inconsequential playing of politics, weighing weighing of personal interests and downright corruption have contributed contributed to the French military weakness and' lack of co-ordina- in in It a

Clipped from
  1. The Paris News,
  2. 11 Jun 1940, Tue,
  3. Page 8

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