Unamuno’s last speech
I wonder if there is maybe a legacy in that blank verse that was Unamuno’s life, a legacy that we, Christians following Jesus in Spain, should take.
30 MARCH 2015 · 19:10 CET
This is a reflection from Evangelical Focus’s director, Pedro Tarquis, regarding the Unamuno, friend of Protestants Prize Award ceremony that took place last march, 21st.
It is hard to explain with words those heart’s reasons that the reason does not know, just like what happened last Saturday, march 21st, at the vice- chancellor’s office of Unamuno’s House-museum in Salamanca.
In that same office, on October 12th, 1936, Miguel de Unamuno dressed up with the rector’s gown to go to the University of Salamanca for the celebration of the National Day, an event to exalt the national-Catholicism feeling, presided by Franco’s second hand man (Millán Astray) and the dictator’s wife, Carmen Polo.
Right there, jus moments before departing, he put in his pocket the letter of Pastor Atilano Coco’s wife. He was his friend in Salamanca, and he was arrested in one of Franco’s prisons, waiting to be executed, despite all the efforts that Unamuno made.
In that envelope, he scribbled his speech on the march, while listening to all the fans´ shouting. He stood up and declared with a clear voice: “You know me well, and you know I cannot remain silent for long. Sometimes, to remain silent is to lie.”
Millán Astray then responded: “death to intelligence! Long live death!” And Unamuno said: "This is the temple of intelligence, and I am its high priest. You are profaning its sacred domain. You will win, but you will not convince. You will win, because you have enough brute force, but you will not convince, because in order to convince it is necessary to persuade, and to persuade you will need something that you lack: reason and right in the fight.”
That was his last speech.
Atilano Coco died alone, executed on December 9th. Unamuno also died alone, just 22 days later, at his office desk, on December 31st, 1936.
And some days ago, at that same room, the echoes of “you will win, but you will not convince” have resonated. By the hand of the painter Miguel Elías and his Unamuno’s portrait with the same title. By the pen of Alfredo Pérez Alencart and his poem, inspired by the portrait and its title .
And by the hand of the Spanish Protestants, during the Unamuno, friends of Protestants Award ceremony, given to the painter Miguel Elías.
Right there, at the vice-chancellor’s office, this time in the voice of pastor Asun Quintana, the echoes of deep ideas, lay sermons and the Gospel’s sparkles of light that impressed the Basque writer, resonated once again.
I can assure that the whole audience that packed up the room was impressed by the event.
Multicultural, politically plural audience, far form evangelical ideas. Just like Unamuno understood his thirst of truth in this life, and of life of truth, rooted in a deep searching of the Bible texts.
Sometimes, history has ellipsis, prophesies to be fulfilled, seeds waiting many years to sprout. Salamanca has experienced one of those moments, a reflection of a whole country.
And I can promise that it seemed I could feel Don Miguel de Unamuno’s footsteps in that vice-chancellor’s office, satisfied because this happened.
And I wonder if there is maybe a legacy in that blank verse that was Unamuno’s life, a legacy that we, Christians following Jesus in Spain, should take.