Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Past Is Prologue

[UPDATE: This information is for my regular subscribers. My brand new REDBOOK MAGAZINE arrived in today's mail. Add it to the growing list of periodicals I'm receiving through the bounty of the universe. For further background on this, please back-track to my 9/15/08 blog entry.]

History has always been an area of interest for me. It attracts the storyteller in me I think. Although I haven't been as successful with this, I've attempted learning from the mistakes of others once I realized the innate wisdom of it. Again, let me stress, I'm still way on the learning curve of this, even at my ripe old age, but I do clearly feel this is a wise approach to situations.

When this concept dawned on me is lost to time. I do recall one sterling example of realizing the value of a related phrase that I spotted when I was about 20 years old. One day, while walking in D.C., I spotted one of the four statues around the National Archives Building. "The Future" carved by John Russell Pope, presents a woman lifting her eyes from the pages of a book gazing into the future. At the base is carved a line from The Tempest by Shakespeare: "What is Past is Prologue." It blew me away in its simplicity and power. To this day it haunts me some ten years later (smile).

Presently, I am tutoring a high school student who is homebound awaiting the birth of her baby. She is a good student and ardent in her attempts to learn during this time. Her one reluctant area is history. Her defense is that it is boring. Whatever history she's been exposed to probably wasn't offered with much relevancy to her. Blowing the dust off the colonial period and the American Revolution is one of my passions, so she's in luck. I am too. I have another (somewhat willing) audience. LOVE IT.

In the middle of explaining some dynamics of then General George Washington's battle record and the staging of England's largest military and government loss to date at Yorktown, it hits me on the head that we are in the throws of a frighteningly similar time. Unfortunately, we' might not be on the side we are used to being.

Washington had an uncanny ability to keep troops focused on the prize and upbeat for the cause. He lost nearly all his battles, but HE WON THE WAR! The British won most of the battles, but LOST THE WAR.

The British couldn't, for the life of them, fully engage the colonial citizens enough that they would continue following British government style (well, we didn't have any representation across the pond for that matter either) once they marched out of town and on to the next skirmish. Meanwhile, the British had much earlier dug themselves into horrible depths of debt thanks to the French and Indian War. The Stamp Act, kicking off the string of nasty taxes on the colonials to off-set that debt, was the brain-child of William Penn(Sylvania), advisor to crazy (literally) King George. It was the time that did try men's souls.


Allow me take a break from this mini-history lesson to ask this: does any of this scenario sound in the least bit familiar? Indulge me: How about if we put on the King's crown and the Iraqis get out the lead out with their musket balls? One clear, and disturbing, difference is that we aren't taxing the Iraqis at this point. For one thing, that isn't something a liberator does. But what I wonder is why, during this horrible financial time, are we pouring money into their country while they are enjoying a national treasury overflow?

My other question is this: does democracy AS WE KNOW IT, belong in that area of the world? Does it belong at the cost we are paying? Are we still invoking the "Domino Theory"? There is a reason why certain plants are indigenous to one area and yet can't grow in another. Sure we can harvest oranges in Maine, but only in a simulated indoor environment. Once we remove the overgrown bell jar the plants will surely wither. Will this occur in Iraq once we pack up and move back home?

Everyone deserves "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." That is the problem for me with our involvement in today's war. I want Iraqis to enjoy freedom much like we do here, but structured in a way that makes sense to their culture. That might mean that the brand of democracy we are installing might go the way of the allegiance of colonials once British soldiers left town or be as hard to find as a Maine orange.

My overriding concern, and sincere hope, is that we will fare better in this situation than the Brits did following their attempt to organize us. I am going to be keeping my eyes trained on the future.

In the end, when British General Cornwallis finally surrendered, he had someone else deliver his sword to Washington (poor sport) while the British military band played a popular tune then called "The World Turned Upside Down." A good dose of irony is never lost; but it makes me wonder what will be playing on our way home.

(not the Coldplay version)
If buttercups buzz'd after the bee
If boats were on land, churches on sea
If ponies rode men and
if grass ate the cows
And cats should be chased into holes by the mouse
If the mamas sold their babies
To the Gypsies for half a crown
If summer were spring
And the other way 'round
Then all the world would be upside down!
My overriding concern, and sincere hope, is that we will fare better than the British did following their attempt to organize us. Why don't you join me and keep your eyes trained on the future as well.


  1. Never a dull moment in this teacher's classroom...

  2. Whoaaaaa, good post.

    I'm on my way to a demonstration!!!
    Take a collection on your class for bail money.

  3. ScoopMurphy, you are too much! Your blog is great and I am passing it on. You should compile them after while and publish them in an old fashioned book!

    KS, RN

  4. Good to hear from you. Im writing with one hand and drinking Nyquil from another hand....the flu has hit me early this year. I blame Isabella as she most likely brought it in from daycare.....Isabella had a cold earlier this month, but she is over that; now its just me who has it.

    Congrats on the photo opp with Potsy!!!! You can scratch his name off your list of celebs to hang around now.

    So you are teaching history to your own version of a Juno movie.....hopefully she picks it up and passes it on to her child. History is exciting because it always repeats itself. Read her a section of the great depression..........we are almost there today!!!!

    Anway, hope you stay health and avoid the authorities this winter season.
    take care

  5. Well writ Ms. Scoop.

  6. Very diverse subjects!
    Love the quotes.
    How about sharing those magazines?


  7. God is still in Control. So in my great INFINITE wisdom I Say :