Charles Krauthammer is an American syndicated columnist, author, political commentator, and former physician whose weekly column was syndicated to more than 400 publications worldwide. In August 2017, he stopped writing his column and being a commentator on Fox News, due to his battle with cancer.
Within the last few days Charles Krauthammer in a letter revealed that his battle with stomach cancer, in his words, “is over.” The aggressive cancer, initially thought to be responding to treatment had returned leaving Charles with but a few weeks to live.
Charles further writes in his farewell letter, “I leave this life with no regrets.” It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.” The words “a wonderful life” reminds one of the film, starring James Stewart. In the climax George Bailey receives a note from his guardian angel stating: “No man is a failure who has friends.” And Charles affirms that such was a blessing of his life. Among his known friends were also those unknown to him. Those, like myself, who were avid followers reaped much from his brilliance, mastery of his craft and keen wit. His brilliance is confirmed in that he, unlike many of his profession, intended and was able to reach the common man.
Charles discusses in his most recent book, “Things That Matter,” the event that led to his paralysis. It occurred when he was a college student studying psychiatry. He dove into what be mistakenly believed to be the deep end of a pool causing trauma to his head and immediately losing all feeling from the neck down. As a result of this tragic life changing episode he told friends that he thought of death every day. Not an unexpected practice considering his situation. But his daily dwelling was not in the morbid sense. Rather it impelled him to live a life of one who has known, unlike most, that our time on earth is not an extended guarantee but only for the moment that we are in. That explains why he could write such a farewell letter that opened the reader to think him courageous; to face death with such calm.
Fear of God is the idea of living in respect, awe, and submission to Him. Essentially this means having a clear trust in God. No one knows what is in the heart of anyone, except for the individual and God. Whether a heart is ablaze in faith or in some far corner exists a smoldering ember sustained by hope. Which ever the case, there are those who may not inwardly possess a fear of God, yet have directed their lives as though they did. A person who has a fear of God, knowingly or not, need not be considered courageous in facing death as Charles. Rather, they appear to be a person who is assured. Charles, although strange to say, is now quite fortunate, for he has been given time to prepare for what lies before him. If he had been taken from life in the pool accident, as so many lives are cut short without warning, what preparation was possible? Those who have not the inclination as Charles to think of death each day are not making preparation. And sadly for many, past indiscretions stand before them as specters left unamended.
In the film, “Meet Joe Black,” Brad Pitt plays the role of death who has come to claim the life of a successful CEO, Anthony Hopkins. The character played by Hopkins is an honorable and caring man, not only for family but also those who share in his business; higher-ups and workers alike. At the end of the film when it is time for death to usher Hopkins from this world. Both reluctantly stand at the end of a bridge looking over all that will be left behind. The CEO tells death, “It’s hard to let go, isn’t it? Death answers in the affirmative. The CEO replies: “Well, that’s life.” The CEO then turns to death and continues the brief departing question and answer session: “Should I be afraid? Death responds: “Not a man like you.”
May we take a lesson from the life of Charles Krauthammer. Live life fully and with integrity, as though you possess a fear of God. One who does need not fear death.