In the sermon on the mount, according to Matthew 5:5, Jebus H. Christ is supposed to have declared that the meek will inherit the earth. Why go and give those losers ideas? And now look what’s happened; everywhere you go the meek are flexing their muscles and demanding their pound of ground. And what are the bold doing? Cowering before the toothless onslaught, it seems.
Dunno ‘bout you, but I’m getting a bit tired of feeling I have to work out how to address somebody for fear they may take offence. I’ve long thought the lazy salutation ‘all right, mate?’ was crude and assumptive, but now there is a high degree of probability that such a hail-fellow-well-met would be countered by “Did you just assume my gender?”
We’ve all been there; minding our own business and along comes yet another opportunity to demonstrate that we are unthinking dinosaurs, all to ready to wield words as weapons to dismantle the self-esteem of the fragile-at-heart. Actually the phrase ‘self esteem’ has much to do with it, if you think about it. Once, such a fellow – and there I go again with the gender insensitivity – would be a popinjay, a self-regarding, pompous arse. But now it has been decided (by the meek, no doubt) that we should all value ourselves way above our worth.
So, what are we worth? Once we were valued by what we produced, what we did to make things better and how we lived out lives. Nowadays it seems it is the War of the Words as people are most highly remunerated not by economic productivity, which can be directly measured and compared, but by rhetoric, whose true worth is often literally immeasurable.
So many people now appear to make a living from spouting whatever pops into their vacuous little heads. From Ash Sarkar’s ludicrous ‘luxury communism’ to Femi Arseholuwole’s daily invented grievances. The truth, it seems has little value, people preferring to believe comforting lies, or rousing Owen Jones’ style, class-warrior tub-thumping. If only there was a bug going round, a common cold, to lay low these alien interlopers.
I had these thoughts while listening to the podcast version of the superb Moral Maze on the daily commute this morning. But as worthy and considered as are the arguments put forth, they consist entirely of words; words voiced without the problem or responsibility of putting them into action. It’s quite a lucrative business, I imagine, putting the world to rights, one enormous grant cheque at a time.
One of the ‘witnesses’ was David Miliband, the thwarted former Labour Foreign Secretary now making a fortune by anybody’s standards as a mouthpiece for International Rescue. Charity used to be a calling, a vocation; now it is quite the little earner. But for all his grandstanding, all his berating of the nasty capitalists for not doing ‘enough’, it was still all just words.
Don’t get me wrong, a stirring speech, a rousing injunction to go over the top one last time, a call to arms, a rallying cry… these, used judiciously and delivered from the heart, can often spur men to valour. But when you end up in a world where it is all jaw-jaw and not enough war-war; where the battles are fought entirely away from the action, where the men in the field lie listless awaiting leadership which never comes, nothing ever gets done.
In the words of the Immortal Bard: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead. In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility; But when the blast of war blows in our ears, Then imitate the action of the tiger…” Or, as Elvis put it, somewhat more succinctly, “A little less conversation, a little more action, please. All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me.” Common Sense has left the building.