I invite you to sign The Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration

Theodore's Memorial Video

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

America Needs to Listen to Rudyard Kipling

Another 'Empty Sky' Note

Today is September 11, 2012.  Eleven years ago today our country was hurt terribly by the death of so many people who had lived their lives in relative peace and prosperity.

I hope everyone spent some time in prayer for the repose of their souls.

Today, we had embassies in Egypt and Libya attacked by folks who treated us with the utmost disrespect.  Israel continues to worry about Iran's development of nuclear weapons, and they are not getting much help from one of their closest allies.  That ally, by the way, is us.  U.S.A.  America.  Our president said he did not have enough time to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but he does have enough time to appear on the David Letterman show.

I am so happy our President has his priorities straight.

While swimming in our pool this evening, we heard the deep thwup-thwup of military helicopters off to the south of us.  We saw the lights of three separate aircraft traveling together and low on the horizon.  Nothing else flies like that and sounds like that.

All of this turmoil in the world reminded me of something our current president said four years ago.  He said he would sit down and talk to our enemies, and things would get better after they just got along with one another.  Well, it appears as if his 'conversations' have not worked very well.  I get the feeling that our president is perceived as the geek with the 'KICK ME'  sign taped on his backside, and all of the kids in school are busy connecting their shoes with his rear end.

It is time for a change of leadership.  One can only hope. 

All these little facts running around in my head got to remind me about a story by Rudyard Kipling.  This is a story about what happens when the wrong man is assigned to lead a country.  In this case, this is just part of the country.  I invite you to read it in full; I shall cut and paste as I see fit to make this story fit my argument. 

The Head of the District - find it in its entirety here.

As with most of his stories, Kipling starts with a poem; note the first two lines:

For we must bear our leader's blame,
On us the shame will fall,
If we lift our hand from a fettered land
And the Queen's Peace over all,
Dear boys,
The Queen's Peace over all!

 The story begins with a man named Orde dying by the side of a flooded river.  He is accompanied by his assistant, a man named Tallantire.  Since he is the Head of the District he holds one more meeting with the native tribesmen before dying:

"Men, I'm dying," said Orde quickly, in the vernacular; "and soon there will be no more Orde Sahib to twist your tails and prevent you from raiding cattle."

"God forbid this thing!" broke out the deep bass chorus. "The Sahib is not going to die."

"Yes, he is; and then he will know whether Mahomed speaks truth, or Moses. But you must be good men, when I am not here. Such of you as live in our borders must pay your taxes quietly as before. I have spoken of the villages to be gently treated this year. Such of you as live in the hills must refrain from cattle-lifting, and burn no more thatch, and turn a deaf ear to the voice of the priests, who, not knowing the strength of the Government, would lead you into foolish wars, wherein you will surely die and your crops be eaten by strangers. And you must not sack any caravans, and must leave your arms at the police-post when you come in; as has been your custom, and my order. And Tallantire Sahib will be with you, but I do not know who takes my place. I speak now true talk, for I am as it were already dead, my children,--for though ye be strong men, ye are children."

 Unfortunately Tallantire is not chosen to replace Orde.  Instead a man who appears to have all the qualifications for the job is selected:

The very simplicity of the notion was its charm. What more easy to win a reputation for far-seeing statesmanship, originality, and, above all, deference to the desires of the people, than by appointing a child of the country to the rule of that country?

The man chosen to be the Head of the District was inappropriate for many reasons; the main one was that the people he would oversee had absolutely no respect for him.  Here Tallantire complains about having to deal with this new guy:

"How on earth am I to explain to the district that they are going to be governed by a Bengali? Do you--does the Government, I mean--suppose that the Khusru Kheyl will sit quiet when they once know? What will the Mahomedan heads of villages say? How will the police--Muzbi Sikhs and Pathans--how will THEY work under him? We couldn't say anything if the Government appointed a sweeper; but my people will say a good deal, you know that. It's a piece of cruel folly!"

One of his colleagues advises him to do his best to support the new leader:

"It's grievous enough, God knows, and the Government will know later on; but that's no reason for your sulking. YOU must try to run the district, YOU must stand between him and as much insult as possible; YOU must show him the ropes; YOU must pacify the Khusru Kheyl, and just warn Curbar of the Police to look out for trouble by the way. I'm always at the end of a telegraph-wire, and willing to peril my reputation to hold the district together. You'll lose yours, of course, If you keep things straight, and he isn't actually beaten with a stick when he's on tour, he'll get all the credit. If anything goes wrong, you'll be told that you didn't support him loyally."

Almost immediately the troubles start, and the Head of the District wants to know what the situation is:

"I--I--I insist upon knowing what this means," said the voice of the Deputy Commissioner, who had followed the speakers.

"Oh!" said Curbar, who being in the Police could not understand that fifteen years of education must, on principle, change the Bengali into a Briton. "There has been a fight on the Border, and heaps of men are killed. There's going to be another fight, and heaps more will be killed."

"What for?"

"Because the teeming millions of this district don't exactly approve of you, and think that under your benign rule they are going to have a good time. It strikes me that you had better make arrangements. I act, as you know, by your orders. What do you advise?"
The native tribes had seen that a weak and inappropriate leader had been put in charge, and they took full advantage of it.  In the end, a lot of people lose their lives as the tribesmen started looting and killing in the District.  Eventually they are suppressed, but it comes with the loss of many lives on both sides.  The leader of the tribesmen comes to make peace with Tallantire, who ends up temporarily in charge of the District again:

"Who art thou, seller of dog's flesh," thundered Tallantire, "to speak of terms and treaties? Get hence to the hills--go, and wait there starving, till it shall please the Government to call thy people out for punishment--children and fools that ye be! Count your dead, and be still. Best assured that the Government will send you a MAN!"

"Ay," returned Khoda Dad Khan, "for we also be men."

As he looked Tallantire between the eyes, he added, "And by God, Sahib, may thou be that man!"

While I am not advocating a return of British Imperialism, I am trying to stress that our president has not impressed anyone in the Middle East as being a strong leader.  As a result, we have experienced nothing but diminished power and influence in the area.  I hope that the next president of this country will reverse our course in this area; I fear that the price will be paid by our young men and women in the Armed Forces.  As it says in the poem at the beginning of this story, we must bear our leader's blame.  In this case, probably with our own lives.

No comments:

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation
Now restored with the help of some cement!

Prayer to Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Mary my mother, take my hand today, and all days.
Lead me away from all occasions of sin.
Guide me in fulfilling your last words in the Gospel,
"Do whatever He tells you."

I am An Amateur Catholic Blogger!

Amateur Catholic B-Team Member