As I write this, it is the eve of the 2016 election. And I am haunted.
Imagine a time when a nation is being pulled apart by hostile agendas, uncompromising political forces demonize one another and there seems to be no clear choice for people who value the rule of law, their faith, and honor.
Imagine a time when secular “isms” demand a dogmatic, unquestioning loyalty that matches and even exceeds religious zealotry.
Imagine a time when households are divided by political fury.
It sounds alarmingly recent, but it is the stage for General Escobar’s War a novel by Jose Luis Olaizola, written not in 2016 but in 1983 concerning events of the Spanish Civil War occurring in 1936-39. A historical novel based on the papers of Antonio Escobar Huerta. A true story.
It might seem the most manipulative hyperbole to compare the events of the Spanish CIvil War to the dissonance of the current American political dynamic. Yet, the events of that struggle would probably have seemed like hyperbole had they been suggested ten or fifteen years before they occurred
Reading this novel created an all too unnerving echo of what we can see happening around us today. The situation today may not be as complicated or dire, just yet, as the events of 1936-39, but the resonance is there. It is not at this time as harsh, but it is distressing to see the growing tension not just between political agendas, but the schism from that tension infecting families.
There is a weight of fatalistic sorrow in General Escobar’s War that would soon become oppressive were it not for the title character’s steadfast nature. Antonio Escobar Huerta is no cardboard hero. He worries. He frets. He experiences dread, fear, hope, anger and uncertainty. But, through it all he holds fast to faith and honor. In short he is a man who senses a reality beyond the immediate. The good General Escobar realizes that surrendering what is moral and honorable is to lose anything that truly matters.
Such a realization is beyond inconvenient. As readers it might be disquieting for us to contemplate. For General Escobar it was a doom. So read this book. Ponder if you would ever dare bring down such a doom upon yourself for the sake of those virtues that are the mortar of our “sure and certain hope.” I believe that you too will be grateful that there have been men and women like Antonio Escobar Huerta scattered throughout our history..
You might also find yourself praying that they are among us still.