November 22, 1963. If you were around back then, you certainly know the significance of that day. Or do you?
We all know that our 35th president was assassinated in Dallas. It's an event that haunts us even today -- nearly fifty years to the moment. It's indelibly imprinted on we survivors -- where we were and how we heard the news.
Yet two other greats died that same day. Within hours of the president. Their loss is hardly mourned, certainly nearly forgotten that it occurred at the same time.
But virtually no one on 22 November 1963 realized—and relatively few realize even now—that that day also saw the departure of the two other major figures, who were also world-shapers in their very different ways.
The two greats that were lost were as far from politics as you can imagine. These two, both men, were visionaries perhaps greater than JFK. Their words were read and their books sold thousands more copies than anything Kennedy wrote, Profiles in Courage included. Their literary works still are great sellers today.
These authors who's passing was glanced over at best, were totally ignored in the big picture despite the fact that they would have made front pages if they had died a day earlier. What is it they say, "Timing is everything?"
The two "ghosts" were C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy) and Aldous Huxley (Brave New World).
Philosophically and sociologically, they were titans. Their passing deserved a bit of recognition but sadly, a more instantly shocking sense of despair overtook this country. The presidents murder understandably overshadowed the more peaceful and orderly passing of these two pillars of future thought.
Death had moved remorselessly westward to claim his scalps. Lewis died first, in his brother’s arms, a few minutes after tumbling with a crash from his bed at the foot of the stairs at the Kilns, his house outside Oxford, at 5.30pm. He was just a week shy of 65. One hour later—12.30pm in Texas—the 46-year-old President was shot. At the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, Huxley’s second wife Laura, leaving his bedside with his request for an LSD injection, found the doctor and nurses in shock watching the news of the assassination; Huxley died, aged 69, at 5.20pm local time, just under eight hours after Lewis.
So perhaps in a few weeks, after we've tired of all of the Kennedy conspiracy specials and commemorations, we'll take a moment and hearken back to two of life's most interesting writers. As this post began, things in life (and death) seem to happen in three's. So here's three quotes from the other two missing greats.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.
The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.
There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, 'All right, then, have it your way.'
That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.
Maybe this world is another planet's hell.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Wise men of wordsmiths. Come November 22nd, I'll remember their 50th anniversary of passing. Join me?