The Value of Viewing Life

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill is much admired by Brits and us here in the States. Nevertheless, I'd like to take issue with several things. He should be given credit for saving Great Britain from Hitler's onslaught during WWII, but mere dogged determination is not always what is required in life. In reality, the Brits voted him out of office as the prime minister in 1945 even though he had successfully led his people through the war that had just ended. They were concerned about many of the issues of his past and future such as the terrible loss of life during the battle of Gallipoli during WWI, regarding the issue of home rule in India, and abdication of Edward VIII. Churchill wanted to retain the British Empire after WWII like it was prior to the war. He wanted to return to the good old days as if the war hadn't nearly ruined it completely. In hindsight, only Churchill thought that they could return to the golden days of yore.

My other issue with Churchill was that, aside from his imperial Weltanschauung, he is remembered for saying things that were not accurate. For example this often quoted thought, "If you are not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you are not conservative by 40, you have no brain." As a history teacher at the university level, he is wrong about the last half of his comment.

I'll go into editing Winnie's comment in a moment, but I want to diss him for plagiarism. He didn't say that I got that idea from Francois Guizot who was a historian and French Prime Minister who died in the same year Churchill was born in 1874. Guizot said, "Not to be a republican at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head." Georges Clemenceau, a more recent French Prime Minister, who wrote much of the Peace Treaty of Versailles, also borrowed Guizot's comment and edited it slightly, "Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head." Then Churchill rewrites both versions.

I will overlook that lack of attribution, but I won't overlook the wisdom of that idea no matter whose idea it was originally. I have written about liberals vs. conservatives many times.

However, it seems to me to be an educational issue and not one of age. I am not convinced that the young are liberal, and, as people get older, they morph into conservatives. I would be willing to argue that whether we are liberal or conservative has to do with thinking and our education, not age. Some very bright older people are or were liberals. For example, Carl Sagan, the astrophysicist who knew vast sums of information and had the ability to even help me understand a bit of it was a liberal. Sagan who died in 1996 at the age of 62 was no conservative or Luddite.

Stephen Hawking, who was born almost exactly a year before I entered the world, is not some conservative hiding in the cosmic debris of the universe. Hawking is still thinking at 70, and what he is thinking is not what was once thought and then enshrined in some conservative, no-nothing hall remembering the past.

These are just two very smart people, great thinkers who were not bound to the past. However, Churchill looked back hoping to go forward...into the future. Churchill could write and turn words into energy but made some very critical mistakes in thinking. He might have been liberal when he was 20, but he became very conservative by 40 and thereafter. Actually, I'm haven't come across any of his liberal writings or thoughts of his 20s. Churchill and conservatives in Britain and here in the States look to the past for direction in the future...a future that they are reluctant to reach.

Think of all the great liberals, their educational backgrounds, and their problem solving of social issues. I wrote about the great social movements from the Civil War to today. I arbitrarily picked the Civil War as a starting point. I could have picked any other time in the past with the same results. Nonetheless, there were no great social movements started by conservatives. Think about some great movement that conservatives pushed. I can't think of a single cutting-edge that they made to correct the past. There are none in the past century and a half or before.

Nevertheless, there are loads of politicians and would-be-leaders grasping conservatism as some Holy Grail. I am not dissing the Arthurian mindset regarding the Grail, but I am challenging the conservatives to think for once rather than merely repeating their jargon of the past. Conservatives repeat some old and decadent notion about sexism, racism, homophobia, rejection of global warming, etc. as if that is good enough for the present and future.

There are loads of conservatives, young and old that are fighting valiantly for the good old days that were in fact not good for many. Steve Biko said in the face of oppression in South Africa during the apartheid period, "I would rather die for a cause that will live than live for a cause that will die." Conservatives edit Biko's comment by saying, "I would rather live for a dead cause than die for a cause that will live." Think about spending your entire life saying to family and friends about all the great social movements, "Yes, but..."

That is not only a self-defeating mindset, but it is also a horrible mindset to leave for the next generation by which to remember you. What will the next generation think about you when you are gone? Will the next generation say of you that you thought and moved society forward or that you feared the future and stood still in the present or retreated into the past?

Where do you stand on equality of the sexes? The conservatives are waging a war against women. Todd Akin said of rape: "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Akin believes that if you are getting raped, you can stop fertilization by the rapist.

Rick Santorum said of a pregnancy due to rape that is a horrible gift from God.

Here we have two men determining what happens to women. Had the shoe been on the other foot and women were deciding what was best for men, I don't think that they would be that supportive of that type of sexism.

Moving into another realm of sexism, how do you feel about homosexuality? Is it a choice like many thought it was years ago, or is it a genetic issue that was determined at conception? I do not see any difference between homophobia and racism. Our sexuality or pigment of our skin is not a choice that we make sometime after we are born. However, Santorum thinks differently.

Had Santorum and company read anything in psychology, he and his conservatives would have long since come of age. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), which is the book written by the American Psychiatric Association's (APA), categorizes all the psychological disorders. Homosexuality is not considered a psych disorder and hasn't been for a long time.

Then there is global warming. It is obvious; the snows of Kilimanjaro are melting. It won't be long before the only snows will be in the title of Hemingway's book.

Mt. Kilimanjaro Ice Cap

Mt. Kilimanjaro Ice Cap

These two photos were taken of Mt. Kilimanjaro by satellites. The Landsat 5 satellite took the first photo in February 1993 and seven years later in February 2000, the Landsat 7 satellite took the second photo.

"The ice atop Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania has continued to retreat rapidly, declining 26 percent since 2000, scientists say in a new report. 85% of the ice cover that was present in 1912 has vanished. It is anticipated to be completely gone in 20 years. Surface melting like that seen in recent years has not occurred over the last 11,700 years." World Culture Pictorial

Global warming can be easily be seen at the North Pole, which is melting rapidly. Nevertheless, many conservative politicians don't buy the global warming problem. Doug Brady wrote in Conservatives 4 Palin about the global warming issue that "...shouldn't the Republican candidate oppose Democrat positions? Or am I living in the past and hopelessly naïve?" Well, you are living in the past and are hopelessly naïve.

Conservatives need to leave the past and look at the present. They could start by looking at the North Pole ice sheet which is rapidly melting:

For more information

Finally, the conservative reaction to Obama's healthcare reform is another nonstarter. We are the only Western nation and one of a few nations without universal healthcare. Healthcare isn't a human right for conservatives. I wrote this article about health care: The Luddites Are Back

I watch people in Washington or people who would like to work in Washington and wonder what their children or grandchildren will think after they are gone. Trees in Michigan might be the right size, but could that conservative lead America into the 21st century without going backwards into a much earlier century?

With the advent of the computer came the Internet and later YouTube. The world will have forever a video of a lot of nonsense coming from conservatives. I'd be cautious if I were a conservative about what I said in front of a TV camera...those statements will last a lot longer than they or their causes.

On the other hand, YouTube's recording the liberals also. Churchill said, "If you are not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you are not conservative by 40, you have no brain." Had he used his education and thought, he could have said, "Start as an infant and think, and never stop learning and thinking regardless of your age."

This is a true story about Jack, my grandson. He was toddling around in his driveway as I was babysitting for him one day. My car was parked in the driveway, and I reached for my keys to get something out of the car and inadvertently sounded the locking device, which gave a beep and the lights flashed. Jack was startled standing in front of the car on the passenger side. Seeing his reaction, I pushed the lock button again and again the beep and lights blinked. He looked around in an attempt to figure out what was happening.

Jack with key clicker


He noticed the passenger side mirror had a light on it, which blinked also along with the headlights and taillights. Jack stood there watching the mirror's light blink as I pushed the button again. Then in less than two nanoseconds, he turned on a dime and toddled to the driver's side of the car. He looked at the mirror to see if it was also blinking. He was probably 18 months old at that time.

On Having Gifted Grandchildren...It's All Genetic

We all need to be more like Jack. If a 18-month old is thinking at that level, he is outthinking many in Washington...

An old man and his grandson

An Old Man and His Grandson

Visit The Mentors and Me page to read more about this topic.

Forrest Gump Film Poster

Forrest Gump, "Stupid is as stupid does."

Visit the Stupid is As Stupid Does page to read more about this topic.