Light! Nature’s resplendent robe; without whose vesting beauty all were wrapt in gloom.
The following doggerel may serve to dramatize the point here at issue:
There lived two frogs, so I’ve been told,
In a quiet wayside pool;
And one of these frogs was a blamed bright frog,
But the other frog was a fool.
Now a farmer man with a big milk-can
Was wont to pass that way;
And he used to stop and add a drop
Of the aqua pura, they say.
And it chanced one morn in the early dawn
When the farmer’s sight was dim,
He scooped those frogs in the water he dipped,
Which was a joke on him.
The fool frog sank in the swashing tank,
As the farmer bumped to town.
But the smart frog flew like a tugboat screw,
And he swore he would not go down.
So he kicked and splashed and he slammed and thrashed,
And he kept on top through all;
And he churned that milk in first-class shape
In a great big butter ball. 1
This humorous verse strikingly depicts the human situation in today’s U.S.A.
1. There’s the farmer who cheats. He obtains the water for free and sells it for milk. Competition? Quite the opposite: the something-for-nothing syndrome! This nicely symbolizes getting paid for not working and the thousand and one other deviations from the private ownership, free market, limited government way of life. In politico-economic affairs, it is an affront to the Golden Rule. Were all to do likewise, all would perish!
2. Then there’s the “blamed bright frog.” What strength of character can we assign to humans who are similarly oriented? Never say die! That frog could. not guess what would save his life. He knew less about butter-making than I know about Creation, if that be possible. Even as we mortals, he was unaware what form his salvation would take, or even that he would be saved. But he exemplified a spirit that should feature our lives: the will to prevail!
3. And last, the fool frog who, when confronted with an obstacle, behaved as do ever so many humans when faced with cheaters galore: they give up the ghost, throw in the sponge, abandon life’s high purpose.
Wrote John Wilmot: “ ‘Tis a meaner part of sense to find a fault than to taste an excellence.” This insight requires reflection if its message is to be heeded.
Obviously, it is the better part of wisdom and good sense to seek excellence, and not be constantly distracted by the countless faults of mankind. To “taste an excellence”-to seek the right and the good-is an objective that should, in my view, feature our mortal moments. To do otherwise, is to miss life’s golden opportunities. It’s a matter of which way the eye be cast-toward the mess we’re in or toward the what-ought-to-be; we can choose the darkness or the Light!
The countless faults of mankind are incessantly thrown up at us. Freedom devotees by the tens of thousands allow themselves to be so distracted by the bad that they are blinded to the good-which is thousands of times greater! Merely bear in mind that the eye cannot be cast in opposite directions at the same time.
Why is the bad so blatantly broadcast, causing mass distractions, while the good, ever so much greater, is silent for the most part and has to be sought out? This requires an answer to the question, “What makes news?” The mass media give the answer.
What qualifies as news? Mostly disasters-the bad-only now and then the good-the successes. A jet plane crash is news. Newspapers, TV, radio publicize it the world over. But try to find any reporting on the hundreds of millions of miles flown safely every week. The successful is an unevent: no mention. Hijacking? That’s news! Why? It’s a disaster-bad and exceptional; but passengers by untold millions have never been hijacked. Is my more than 2,000,000 miles of safe flying news? Indeed not!
A thief robs a bank. News! Millions of citizens day-in-and-day-out, year-in-and-year-out are honest. They promptly pay their bills and keep their promises. No news!
This commentary has to do only with the few who are devoted to the freedom philosophy. What destructive tendency has the media on us and what might the remedy be? A strict observation of the correct answer would be a boon to everyone, including freedom’s opponents. The following is how I presently see the media’s effect and its remedy, though, admittedly, it is a matter of forever probing.
As related to politico-economic affairs, the media, with a few notable exceptions, profusely present the fallacies of socialism as if they were sound. If you listen to radio or TV reporters and commentators or read the daily news or spend time with most weekly and monthly magazines, you listen to and read messages that spell sheer calamity to anyone who understands and believes in human liberty.
Now it may well be that you are one of the exceptional few who can allow such a message of socialism to go in one ear and out the other, shrug it off for the nonsense it is and let it go at that. In that case, lucky you!
But suppose you aren’t one of these lucky few. What happens? Wholesale distractions which result in despair, discouragement, pessimism-all is going to pot and ruin! The bad is so overemphasized that the good cannot be seen. You suffer, and freedom suffers, because there is one fewer among us who has faith that the good will prevail. And without an abundance of such faith, freedom is a lost cause.
Edward Thomson, quoted at the beginning, was doubtless referring to the light of day. However, his dramatically phrased thought is precisely as relevant to the “Light” of an enlightened mind. Phrase it this way:
Light! Mankind’s resplendent robe; without its flowing inspiration, man is wrapt in gloom.
Seek the Light! Be not distracted from so doing; let nothing stand, in the way, not even all the faults of socialists. Henry Ward Beecher offered good counsel: “Every man should keep a fair-sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends.” And, I would add, the faults of his opponents. If their nonsense causes our gloom, they’ve won-and without knowing why.
What is my formula for escaping the gloom? I try not to hear or read any of the nonsense-just ignore it. So how do I know what’s happening? As to the bad, it’s in the atmosphere and can be felt in one’s bones, as the saying goes. No careful attention is necessary.
Actually, if I can avoid being distracted by the bad, I can know far more of what’s going on than can those who spend their time wandering in this murky swamp; I can spend all of my time on seeking the good-which is enormous. This allows me to draw comparisons between the bad and the good, whereas those who see only the bad can make no comparisons; they are in a blind alley. They are unhappy, while I am enjoying every moment.
Why seek the light? This is precisely the same as asking, “Why do what’s right?” It is only as the right is found and practiced that errors are discovered and dismissed. In our workaday world, it is only as the miraculous wisdom of the free and unfettered market is apprehended that socialism will fall by the wayside.
Wrote Henry Clay, “I would rather be right than be President.” So, let us stand with him for the right-for human liberty, peace on earth, good will toward men.
1 Extracted from “Story of a Kicker,” by Holman F. Day.