The Sons of Martha Have Had Enough

3 03 2009

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The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,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

… Cheaper to Die by the Vote

17 12 2007

I read an Op-Ed piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by an ex-NBC correspondent (and current University of Georgia Associate Professor of Journalism) named Dan Hazinski. Mr. Hazinski is apparently peeved about the wild and unruly nature of what he calls “citizen journalism”. You can find the article in its entirety here.

Mr. Hazinski then goes on to describe the manifold potential horrors from such unregulated “journalism”, and calls on the major news organizations (his words, italics mine) to apply discipline and monitoring of free speech and free press. I’m pretty sure freedom of speech and freedom of the press are what the 1st Amendment is designed to help protect. Of course, the 1st Amendment applies only to actions of Government. Mr Hazinski seems to want his “major news organizations” to (somehow) regulate everyone else’s free speech and press- that makes it all better.

Mr. Hazinski, how should your “major news organizations”  enforce this regulation? More to the point, how could they? Viewers and readers are abandoning the “major news organizations” in droves- driven largely by the lack of substantive content, pandering to the lowest common denominator, and sheer unprofessionalism exhibited by mainstream “journalists”. I suggest removing the beam from your own eye before mentioning the mote in ours.Here are Mr. Hazinski’s actual recommendations, copied directly from the article linked above:

  • Major news organizations must create standards to substantiate citizen-contributed information and video, and ensure its accuracy and authenticity.
  • They should clarify and reinforce their own standards and work through trade organizations to enforce national standards so they have real meaning.
  • Journalism schools such as mine at the University of Georgia should create mini-courses to certify citizen journalists in proper ethics and procedures, much as volunteer teachers, paramedics and sheriff’s auxiliaries are trained and certified.

Let’s take a look at the first item. “Major news organizations … establish standards … substantiate citizen-contributed information …

That sounds like a problem belonging to the “major news organizations” not the citizens. If you- as a journalist- received a tip from an anonymous source claiming that Barack Obama was a direct lineal descendant of Ethelred the Unready  and was therefore by right King of England and the United Kingdom, you would not immediately rush to your editor yelling, “Stop the presses!” Would you be more likely to do a little basic research to see if there was even a vague possibility of accuracy first? Why aren’t your journalistic brethren and sistren doing this now with “citizen-contributed” content? If your “major news organizations” are already failing to police their own behavior, why should anyone rational consider allowing them to police anyone else?

On to Number 2: “… clarify and reinforce their own standards …

Hmmm. I thought that was what we talked about in Item #1. If you want your mainstream media organizations to clean up their own acts, I approve. They (and you) have no business trying to clean up mine- except by setting a good example.

… and work through trade organizations to enforce national standards so they have real meaning.

Might have to run that one through the English-Greater Obfuscese  translator. To what “trade organizations” do you refer? Writer’s unions? Editor’s unions? Aunt May’s Guide to Professional Speaking? Blogging for Dummies? How are these “trade organizations” supposed to enforce these notional (not a typo) standards? If Uncle Wiley from East Armpit, Alabama wants to write a blog about how Jimmy Carter was the greatest President ever, will Aunt May’s Professional Speaking Enforcement Team descend upon the ancestral Wiley tar-paper shack and lock Uncle Wiley away for failing to properly use a semicolon?

Item number 3: “Journalism schools … certify citizen journalists …”

Let me see if I got this straight, Mr. Hazinski. You want Journalism schools to determine who does and does not have the right to free speech or free press? Did I miss some of the nuances in that third item? What the Hell have you been smoking?

If you- as a former journalist by profession- want to enforce standards of journalistic integrity, perhaps you  should begin with the “major news organizations” you would permit to regulate the free speech of others. If you do not like the content or doubt the accuracy of something written, broadcast, published, or blogged, there are several remedies at your disposal. Among these remedies:

  • You could ignore the subject
  • You could ignore the author/speaker/whathaveyou
  • You could take legal action for libel or slander

Note that none of these options  involve depriving the author/speaker/blogger of his or her rights to free speech or free press.

A side note for those of you who have not been paying attention: The Constitution of the United States does not grant rights to the people. Government cannot give you rights- it can only limit them or take them away … until you (the People) forget about your rights and vote to limit or remove them. The Constitution is mostly involved in limiting the actions and powers of the Government. Those rights you think you get from the Gummint are inherent, inalienable, and part of your birthright as Americans.

Whatsoever, for any cause

seeketh to take or give

Power above or beyond the Laws

suffer it not to live!

– Excerpt from MacDonough’s Song, by Rudyard Kipling

Mr. Hazinski is- of course- entitled to his own opinion. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is- of course- entitled to accept or reject any material according to their policies. I am also (despite Mr. Hazinski’s apparent disapproval) entitled to my opinion, and I can publish it on my blog. I can even urge everyone who is taking (or considering) courses in Journalism from the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia to seriously reconsider that choice. Any “journalist” who proposes such monumental poppycock does not- in my opinion- understand his own profession well enough to be a good teacher thereof. For those of you who wish to delve further into how the “major news organizations” got to be major news organizations, I highly recommend a thorough study of early American History. The “major news organizations” of the late 18th and early 19th centuries bear uncanny resemblance to the political bloggers of today.

But Mr. Hazinski does not approve.

Current status- Flabbergasted

Current music- Storms in Africa, by Enya