There I was beset with problems. These weren’t your mundane issues like running late for an appointment or losing my keys. They were life-changing challenges that I was attempting to resolve. To make matters worse, the initial problems cascaded into other significant issues that exacerbated the original problems.
Midst my emotional angst, three famous historical people floated into my mind as if they intentionally wanted to assist me in facing my maelstrom. Thomas Paine was the first to drift into my troubled mind. Paine wrote The American Crisis a week before Christmas in 1776. It addressed the problems George Washington faced with his rag-tag army, many of whom wanted to quit.
Washington told his soldiers to read the first pamphlet of The American Crisis on December 23. This quote was the first paragraph of a series of thirteen pamphlets.
These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
Due to Washington’s order to read The American Crisis, his army remained together. Very early on December 26, Washington and his army crossed the icy Delaware River. Only a third of his army could row across the river, but they attacked and defeated the Hessian troops who fought for the British.
As I thought about Paine’s insight about “the times that try men’s souls,” I pondered his comment that hell and tyranny are difficult to be conquered. Trump and his MAGA minions are what Paine would describe as tyrannical. Even though Trump claimed that the election was stolen from him, he admitted to some staff members that he had lost. There isn’t a court in the country that concurred with Trump’s lie about the stolen election. There is absolutely no proof other than Donald the Dumb’s assertion.
Trump knows that the election was stolen, and he is aware of this truth, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Surely, Trump isn’t aware of that statement attributed to Joseph Goebbels, the head of the Ministry of Propaganda of Nazis during WWII. Goebbels and Hitler lied. However, it isn’t a lie that the Nazis failed at conquering the world. This is another truth, Goebbels shot himself the day after Hitler did the same thing.
Another name floated into my troubled mind: Bobby Kennedy, my most important mentor. When Bobby faced problems and could not resolve them, his recommendation was, “Hang a lantern on your problem.” If you let people know about your dilemma, they will respond and present possible solutions to your vexing issue.
What rattles me is how some in Washington will lie and compound the lie with more lies. Both parties have had their times of dishonesty and resultant stupid additional lies. However, in the past half dozen years, the right wing of the Republican party has been in a moral abyss. Tragically, they aren’t using a lantern.
Lastly, I thought about Gilgamesh. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, he wanted to find immortality. Therefore, Gilgamesh went on his quest to find immortality and found the only immortal in the world, Utnapishtim. Utnapishtim told him to find and eat a particular flowering plant because that alone would assure him everlasting life. Gilgamesh found this plant and returned home to Uruk with the plant, intending to eat it.
However, a snake ate it first. As a result, the snake achieved immortality, but Gilgamesh grasped that immortality wasn’t possible. He stated, “Forget death and seek life.” He lived out the remainder of his life doing good and noble things. An equally interesting point is that Gilgamesh did achieve immortality. For over four millennia, everyone knows of Gilgamesh.