One of the great characters in contemporary fiction is Capt. Malcolm Reynolds, owner of the cargo ship Serenity in Joss Whedon’s brilliant television show Firefly and the film named after the ship. At a pivotal moment in Serenity, Reynolds meets his main adversary, a nameless assassin we know simply as The Operative, and during their conversation comes an electrifying exchange that sums up Reynolds’ character in 11 words.
Operative: I have to hope you understand you can’t beat us.
Reynolds: I got no need to beat you; I just want to go my way.
Consider how powerful a message those words convey. I don’t need to convince you that my way is right and yours is wrong; I simply desire to live my life on my terms and let you live your life on your terms, as long as we do no harm to each other. There is plenty of room on this vast world for both of us. Continue reading →
Remember when the government flew off a fiscal cliff and collapsed because Congress didn’t pass an extension of the national debt? Remember when millions of kids starved because of cuts to the federal school lunch program? Remember in the early 1980s when the world supply of oil ran out? Remember when all those computers crashed on Jan. 1, 2000, because they weren’t programmed to register years that began with “20”? And oh, yes, and remember when the world ended after the ancient Aztec calendar expired in 2012?
For Throwback Thursday, I’m going all the way back to yesterday and all the other times I reminded you of the venerable H.L. Mencken quote: Continue reading →
I’ve always aimed to be kind and gentle, but I’ve caught myself lately going full snark. It usually happens in the privacy of my home in response to something some political hack said on the morning news.
I believe there’s something about politics that seals off a portion of the brain. I’ve seen otherwise rational human beings say the silliest things when in the throes of political frenzy. Continue reading →
By H.L. Mencken
Baltimore Evening Sun, Nov. 7, 1921
Found at the Mencken Society website, mencken.org
The following attempt to translate the Declaration of Independence into American was begun eight or ten years ago, at the time of of my first investigations into the phonology and morphology of the American vulgate. I completed a draft in 1917, but the publication was made impossible by the Espionage act, which forbade any discussion, however academic, of proposed changes to the canon of the American Koran. In 1920 I resumed the work and have since had the benefit of the co-operation of various other philologists, American and European. But the version, as it stands, is mine. That such a translation has long been necessary must be obvious to every student of philology. And this is Better Speech Week. Continue reading →
Thursday was Make Music Day. I missed it, although perhaps I did sense it in the air, because I did pull the guitar off the wall for the first time in ages and pick a couple of melodies for perhaps three minutes.
Every day ought to be Make Music Day. Heck, every day out to be Christmas, like the reformed Ebeneezer Scrooge keeping it in his heart all year. Every day ought to be Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Every day should be Bill of Rights Day.
Remembering what is good and right and gentle and kind ought to be a daily thing. Practice makes perfect, they say, after all. Continue reading →
Here in the safe place, I am protected from all the hate and rage and pinpricks and shoves and the microaggressions. You can’t touch me in here. It’s not allowed.
I see you out there, but I am safe. You run away, free, flying in the wind, turning your face to the sun, smiling, with all your dangerous thoughts and risks, but I am safe.
I can no longer see the world in all its colors and I can no longer hear the words that challenge what I believe, and I can no longer feel the wind that would turn my direction toward some other and new and challenging place; I am safe.
Safe inside these four walls with only this worldview, this way of life. No one here to tell me I am wrong or mistaken or misguided. I am safe.
You keep your freedom, I don’t want it. Nor do I need it, here in my safe place.
“What next?” – Ask that question every day.
Stop looking back – This is today.
But: An appreciation of past work is what I do. I’m happiest finding an unexplored or underexplored bit or literature or pop culture and sharing what I’ve found – like Firefly.
“I don’t care what you believe – just believe!”
Shepherd Book’s last words are imprecise. “Not caring what you believe” can lead you into the darkness of Clinton vs. Trump.
Belief in something bigger, a higher purpose, the betterment of our species, adding to the beauty – One would like to believe that’s what Whedon/Shepherd Book meant.
People believe they are so powerless nowadays, even though they have possessed the power all along, like Dorothy discovering she could have reached her goal anytime she wanted because she already had all she needed to do so.
We are born free and with the power to choose our life’s path, but people/governments/bosses/well-meaning fools beat down spirit and steal freedom and power, obscuring the truth that empowerment is of nature, of God – we are endowed by our Creator with certain, unalienable rights.
Children need to be taught that they are not free to infringe on others’ freedoms and rights, of course, but so much teaching these days is more about being a proper slave than about exercising responsible freedom.
“Like everything else, (Truth) was rationed by the governments. I taught myself to disbelieve half of what I read in the papers. I saw the world clawing itself to shreds in blind rage. I saw hardly any one brave enough to face the brutalizing absurdity as it really was, and describe it. I saw the glutton, the idler, and the fool applauding, while brave and simple men walked in the horrors of hell. The stay-at-home poets turned it to pretty lyrics of glory and sacrifice. Perhaps half a dozen of them have told the truth. Have you read Sassoon? Or Latzko’s Men in War, which was so damned true that the government suppressed it? Humph! Putting Truth on rations!”
“You see those children going down the street to school? Peace lies in their hands. When they are taught in school that war is the most loathsome scourge humanity is subject to, that it smirches and fouls every lovely occupation of the mortal spirit, then there may be some hope for the future. But I’d like to bet they are having it drilled into them that war is a glorious and noble sacrifice.”
Those are two excerpts from a book called The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley, which was not written last year but in 1919, just after the Great War to End All Wars. We’ve seen how that turned out.
Read more about Morley and an extended excerpt at this link:
Roger Mifflin reflects on the Great War