Sunday, May 28, 2006

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

Thanks to Tam for reminding us of this poem. Kipling wrote "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" in 1919, and it would seem we haven't learned a blessed thing since then.

Here are three stanzas that seem to capture the feeling.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."
Poems - 'The Gods of the Copybook Headings'

Why are we so willing to believe that we can have everything and it will cost us nothing? Why are we so willing the follow the leaders who promise us easy solutions to complex problems? Why do we never learn from history?

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