Saturday, November 22, 2014

"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs"

I'm going to give Colbert King the benefit of the doubt and assume that he had the best of intentions when he wrote The lessons of November 1963. But seriously...comparing our current situation to the moments after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated is WAY over the top and dangerously inflammatory.

Right now, President Obama and the Democrats are going about the business of governing in a terribly polarized political environment. On the other side of the isle is a party with no solutions that is having a massive freak-out. Some of their people are comparing temporary relief to 5 million undocumented immigrants to Japanese internment camps, suggesting the possibility of ethnic cleansing and warning of violence and anarchy. Instead of all the hype, these guys could simply do what President Obama has suggested over and over again...Pass A Bill (i.e., try governing themselves).

The very last thing we need right now is for people to start comparing all that to a presidential assassination and transfer of power. It invites us to join in the hysteria rather than provide an alternative. In other words, it inflames rather than enlightens.

A much better approach is the one that embodies exactly how President Obama tends to handle these kinds of things. It comes from the poet Rudyard Kipling.

If, A Father's Advice to His Son

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools...

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

1 comment:

  1. Irony of course, is that my grandfather gave that poem to me when I went to university. That isn't the irony - the irony is that Kipling was a colonist and a racist.

    The irony doesn't change the message.

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