The Kipling IF and 2013

Happy New Year 2013

It’s going to be a very Happy New Year IF –

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 we can wait without indulging in the hyperbolic histrionics of the corporate media which loves nothing better than a Deadline, A Crisis, A Cliff, A Disaster  — whatever manifestation of immediate interest can be reported (or in some instances created) for public attention; then we’ll find that most issues unfold and get resolved by civil discourse and patient work.

If we can accept that the Lie is the last resort of the self-serving, and dismiss the falsehoods and misrepresentations as the coin of deceitful transactions; then with a bit of self-education we’ll not get drawn into all the phoney “poutrages” in politics, not get distracted by the agitated polemics, and not get entranced by the diversions offered up by those who cannot compromise and will not govern.

Hate is the handmaiden of fear.  The fearful are those often too apt to demand that life give them security, give them guarantees, give them comfort, and relieve them of all anxiety.  It’s the refuge of those who being uncomfortable with themselves find no comfort with any unlike themselves.  I don’t understand the Kentuckian who put up a derogatory “holiday” display about the President of the United States; I don’t want to understand it.  However, all the presentation served to do was lower the man’s reputation among most thinking people, thus providing an example of what Madelaine L’Engle meant when she said ‘hate hurts the hater.’   Being patronizing doesn’t help either.

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;

Nothing wrong with dreaming.  However, ideology is a function of fantasy.  One of mankind’s burdens is the realization that ‘things’ could always be better.  The problems associated with how to make things better would be mitigated by less ideology and more pragmatism.  When ideology anchors the notion that it’s My Way Or The Highway nothing gets done, at least not in a democracy.

Elections come and elections go, and after each one it might be useful to ban the word “mandate.”   What the commentators usually mean isn’t a “mandate” at all, but a level of justification.   The winner is justified in his or her opinion, because most of the populace voted for the proposals presented by said winner.  Only the ‘imposters’ read the results as a ‘mandate.’

People have died for the right to vote — only to see opponents try to impose vote suppression legislation.  People have died for the right to free speech — but that can also be manifested in Hate Radio.  People have died for a free press — we are diminished by its use as pornography.  People have died for their freedom of religion — meanwhile members of one confession belittle and berate members of other faiths.  People have died for the freedom to assemble — but fools muster a mob.  People have died for the freedom to petition the government — and then we read of silliness of the secessionists.  The tools by which these rights were wrought may be rusty, but that may be only because they’ve not been used. Individuals may do offensive things in the name of these freedoms, but the damage can usually be mitigated or repaired by a community.  The prescription is already written for us:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

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!

– Rudyard Kipling

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