You Are Not Cattle, You Are Men

Hope… I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor – that’s not my business – I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that.

We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful.

But we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls – has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say “Do not despair”.

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die [now] liberty will never perish…

Soldiers – don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you – who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate – only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers – don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.

In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written “the kingdom of God is within man” – not one man, nor a group of men – but in all men – in you, the people.

You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfill their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers – in the name of democracy, let us all unite! Charlie Chaplin – “The Great Dictator”

Four Groups

I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent — their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy — they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent — he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief. Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord

Vermonters are Cynical Idealists

A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. Ralph Waldo Emerson “Self-Reliance,” 1841

I am definitively biased when it comes to this quote, seeing as I am from Vermont myself: that I agree with Emerson’s summation should go without saying. I do think he was on to something, though: while not necessarily geographically linked, there is absolutely a subset of people who have a predisposition to self-reliance. You know the ones: the folks that are always trying their hand at something new, always have pet projects and things they want to learn or do, because they feel it is worthwhile to know how to do something. The people who, even when they’re hit by setbacks and are on the ropes, they’ve got a smile on their face.

I wouldn’t consider them optimists, nor would I consider them pessimists — frankly the folks I’ve met like this run the gamut on whether the glass is half full or half empty. Instead, I prefer to think of this delightful subset of people as Cynical Idealists. Anyone who has spent any serious amount of time in Vermont will know that the official state pastime is complaining. We’ll complain about the weather, we’ll complain about flatlanders, we’ll complain about that pesky varmint that keeps eating the tomatoes. We’ll complain about the snow, and the mud, and the black flies and the mosquitos. We’ll complain about taxes, complain about the cost of gas or the cost of milk, we’ll definitely complain about the cost of heating the house through the winter. If you have an idea or a plan or a project you want to work on, we’ll go to great lengths to pick it apart until you’re wondering why you ever brought it up in the first place. We’ll complain about damn near anything, given the time and opportunity to do so.

And then, after we’re done complaining, we buckle down and deal with it. We complain about the sudden two foot snowstorm, at the same time we’re digging ourselves out. The ideas and plans that we nitpick, once we’re done poking holes in it, we patch it up and do it. You’ll hear a Vermonter complain all year, point out all the things that are wrong, and then if you ask them “Well, why don’t you just move somewhere else?” the answer will be “Now, why on earth would I want to do that?” This is cynical idealism, plain and simple: we’ll point out all the problems and flaws, and then work towards that ideal anyway. It’s a particular attitude that evolves out of pragmatism (in that there is still a sense of “this needed to be done, so I did it”), but is its own thing (“this SHOULD be done, so I did it”).

It’s not just Vermonters and New Hampshirites that are like this, not by any stretch. I’d say perhaps we just seem to have a higher concentration of them. I wish there were more cynical idealists in the world: there’s something very special, and very useful about the productive naysayer.

Banksy: On Grafitti

The people who run our cities don’t understand graffiti because they think nothing has the right to exist unless it makes a profit, which makes their opinion worthless. The people who truly deface our neighbourhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across our buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff. Banksy, via [an errant gallifreyan].

Osho: Being in Love

The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it is not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of the other person – without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other. Osho, Being In Love (via [an errant gallifreyan]).

Ira Glass: Creative Work

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. Ira Glass