Four Lessons Larger than Life . . . .
Americans Must Stand for Something
Rather Than Falling for Anything
Though NOT believing in astrology, Ol’ Rajjpuut is a Libra, one of those well-balanced people who occasionally like to throw their weight around. Besides a strong preference for cheeseless six-ingredient pizzas and eating the entire apple except for its stem, he has a particular fetish for learning about things that happened on his birthday, October 16, throughout history. For example:
On October 16, 1859, John Brown made his famous raid of “patriotic treason” on Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia’s federal armory; in 1962, President Kennedy was shown the photos of missile silos in Communist Cuba taken a day earlier; in 1964, Red China got nuclear weapons joining England, France, the USSR and USA; in 1793, the beheading of Marie Antoinette by the guillotine; in 1946, the hanging of the original ten Nazi war criminals after the Nuremberg trials; in 1854, the birth of Oscar Wilde; in 1888, the birth of Eugene O’Neill; in 1919, the first popular speech in Munich by Adolf Hitler transforming him overnight into the de facto leader of the Nazi party in Germany; and also in 1919, the publishing of this poem:
The Gods of the Copybook Headings**
by Rudyard Kipling
As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four—
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man—
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:—
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
Let’s call that poem by Kipling, “Exhibit A” that the popularity of an idea or plan has no necessary relation to its wisdom or factual basis. Truly we human beings have a nasty tendency to “throw the baby out with washwater” and ignore history’s lessons until we repeat them as Kipling emphasized in his poem above. While it’s true that “a certain foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” the operative words in that saying are “certain” and “foolish” not consistency . . . it is the practice of consistently doing the right things and thinking the right thoughts and operating our businesses and our lives with the right “spirit” that leads to true success. If a vital 7-10% of success and a good life is based upon NOT being trapped by the past; perhaps the other crucial 90-93% is knowing what the hell we’re talking about, because we truly understand our own and all history and are somewhat expert in the areas we’re involved in. The next great lesson for our times is this from Ben Franklin, we’ll call it “Exhibit B”:
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
A third great lesson is this from Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich A. Hayek, we’ll consider it “Exhibit C”:
“Man does NOT and canNOT know everything and when he acts as if he does, disaster follows.”
And from the greatest and most tested of our United States’ Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, our “Exhibit D”:
“As I would not be a slave; I would not be a master.”
You well might ask, “What’s all this got to do with the price of Chinese tea?” Exhibit B: When Franklin says, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor safety,” he is talking directly about those who would give away your liberty by promising you that their upcoming “Nanny-State” will take care of you from cradle to grave . . . that is, socialists, communists, various Utopians and all manner of collectivists.
When in Exhibit D: Lincoln says, “As I would not be a slave; I would not be a master,” he is talking about those who would enslave you; would become your master as part of the huge government entity that would have its tentacles reaching into every part of everyone’s lives and emphasizing that both roles master and slave are hideous.
In Kipling’s poem Exhibit A: “The Gods of the Copybook Headings,” we’re reminded that change for change’s sake is a losing proposition now and always has been. Some of our traditions are at least two million years old; our culture and the experiences of the past have value and should NOT be discarded on promises of blue sky and concession rights in Atlantis circa 3000 B.C. An awful lot of grief has been created by Utopians and Utopian movements promising brand new Edens but never delivering.
And Hayek’s quotation, Exhibit C: “Man does NOT and canNOT know everything and when he acts as if he does, disaster follows,” is wisdom aiming to protect us against charismatic hucksters who want to sell us a pig in a poke. Just because someone has an attractive, confident personality and believes something with all their heart, mind and soul doesn’t mean they’re right or their words are true . . . and it doesn’t mean you should drink their kool-aid either. TRUE BELIEVERS -- whether they’re the Jim Jones,’ radical Islamist Jihadists, or Heaven’s Gate leaders or anyone following any of those folks – such TRUE BELIEVERS tend to be wrong about thirty times more often then they’re right and if we’re not circumspect and cautious they can lose us our lives, liberty and sacred honor and perhaps our very souls.
The 2008 election was a referendum on these four exhibits . . . the eclectorate got what they deserved: a charismatic huckster and true believer leading us toward his kool-aid. Unfortunately, 2008’s other offering was a progressive Republican who though he was perhaps one hundred times preferable to Barack Obama, was just Tweedle-dumb running against Tweedle-dumber. The biggest potential virtue of Barack Obama is in reminding all American voters of the four great truths represented by Exhibits A, B, C and D and reminding us how wonderful the United States of America is by threatening us seriously with its loss.
Ya’all live long, strong and ornery,
** What in the hell are “copybook headings?” In the old penmanship books they not only taught kids to print and write longhand, but did so with a constant barrage of wise counsel such as: “A penny saved is a penny earned.” “A fool and his money are soon parted.” “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” “Fortune favors the bold.” “Better late than never.” “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." “If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” Etc., etc.