I generally despise poetry. That said, there are a few poets I can stomach (it’s an extremely short list), and Rudyard Kipling is my favorite among them. He wrote a poem called The Sons of Martha, which I reproduce below (courtesy of the Literature Network):
The Sons of Martha
The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.
It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.
They say to mountains, “Be ye removèd.” They say to the lesser floods, “Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd- they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit- then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.
They finger Death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.
To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden- under the earthline their altars are-
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.
They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not preach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s ways may be long in the land.
Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with the blood some Son of Martha spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.
And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd- they know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the feet- they hear the Word- they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and- the Lord, He lays it on Martha’s Sons!
This particular poem is particularly appropriate these days, in my opinion. There seem to be a great many people donning the mantle of the Sons of Mary, blithely certain that God in the guise of the US Government will intervene between their folly and the consequences thereof. Far too many people apparently believe that the laws of cause and effect do not apply to them. “Consequences? Not my problem. I’m an American citizen/Christian/Democrat/Republican/insert-special-interest-group-here!”
Rather than rely upon the whims of some celestial voice or earthly government, I prefer to earn my own way. I refuse to blindly hope that things will turn out for the best, because I am incapable of blissfully ignoring the cold and unpalatable nature of reality.
All of those Sons of Mary out there who defer or shirk their responsibilities in the happy knowledge that someone else will pick up the slack, take notice- the Sons of Martha are sick of carrying your load.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re a good person. The Universe does not care. It also doesn’t matter what flavor of religion or politics you find appetizing. If you aren’t willing to carry your own weight and own up to the consequences of your actions, you are a parasite. Parasites exist by extracting what they need to survive from creatures that actually work for a living. The host creature- the Sons of Martha, in this case- must disencumber itself of the freeloaders draining it of vital nutrients before the drain becomes crippling.
Actions have consequences. Failure to act is itself an action, and also has consequences. “The bank shouldn’t have loaned me all that money!” does not negate your personal failure in choosing to ask for- and accept- a loan you couldn’t pay back. Furthermore, I see no reason why I should be forced to pay the penalty for your stupidity- again.
And it isn’t just me. Far more people buckled down and made the necessary sacrifices to pay their debts than have defaulted on loans. Those people are also getting soaked to pay for the minority of people too stupid or lazy or financially incompetent to pay their fucking bills on time.
It has been argued that some people failed to pay their bills through no fault of their own. People who lost jobs as a result of someone else’s failings, for example. I concede that there may be a tiny percentage of the people I am excoriating who may fit this description. In the bad old days of the early 80s, I was even one of them. But I didn’t find it necessary to shrug my burden off on the taxpayers.
I found a job delivering pizzas while my wife worked as a secretary. We contacted all of our creditors and worked out deals with them- they would each get paid a little bit every month. One of our creditors got paid the normal payment- plus as much extra as we could afford until it was paid off. Lather, rinse, repeat. We scrimped and saved and did without and dug ourselves out of the hole we’d dug ourselves into. And we paid off every fucking nickel we owed. With interest.
Notice that there was no appeal to God or Government involved. Sacrifice and self-discipline and a sense of personal responsibility are apparently not politically-correct terms these days, but those are exactly what is required on the part of those Sons of bitches Mary who are begging for the Gummint to come save them. Instead of manning up and dealing with the problem, these Sons of Mary seem to be bent on ruining everyone else.
I am tired of working my ass off to make a living, only to watch more and more of my money stolen by the Gummint to rescue deadbeats. What little remains is devalued by increasing inflation- which is the inevitable result from printing scads of fiat money to pay for ever-larger and more expensive Gummint programs for neer-do-wells.
This sort of Goodies-for-Undesirables program coupled with massive inflation (think of Zimbabwe) stand a fair chance of driving what’s left of our Republic into the ground and barking at the hole. Wealthy republics seldom last long- usually only until the People discover they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. This is exactly what is happening to the United States of America right now, and I am sorry (but not altogether surprised) to see it. We had a pretty good run- 233 years- but I fear we’re looking at the last days of this Republic.
I hope I’m wrong.
Current status: Pissed
Current music: Lucifer by Alan Parsons Project