Our lives are mere blips in history: insignificant in the overall scheme of things. Yet as we try to deal with the daily struggle to survive and thrive, we hope and trust it may be meaningful; that it has not been for nothing and we will be remembered more fondly than notoriously. Maybe not up in memorable lights for all of posterity like recent Olympians, or famous painters whose extraordinary works appear at GOMA in the exhibition of European Masters, yet memorable still to those near and dear to us. We will have made a mark in our life amongst those we love. Whether they love us in return is another matter.
Who knows how life pans out? And does it matter? For one, I relish wisdom from the ages. Old and New Testaments are sources of much wisdom as relevant today as a couple of thousand years ago. Another very old tattered book I value is 100 Great Thinkers, which presents the lives, thoughts and aspirations of outstanding men of philosophy, religion, economics and political theory – from the Babylonian law-giver Hammurabi to the more contemporary existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. An occasional woman is mentioned (I did say the book is very old). Contributions of each man are discussed within the social and philosophic framework of the time in a broad survey of man’s attempt to understand himself and his universe. Just what we are trying to do now in this era of COVID constraints.
Building on wisdom of history
While reading the potted history of these famous people a few interesting impressions emerged. Firstly, each made their mark in wisdom and leadership, often in very difficult times like the present, building upon the knowledge and wisdom of those who preceded them in history. Memorable philosophies were built on the gifted legacy foundation of knowledge to which they added greater insight pertinent to the particular era in which they lived.
Secondly, almost invariably, generativity and generosity of spirit pervades their philosophy. Like us, they made their mark seeking to leave the world a better place, richer in understanding.
An exception is Karl Marx (1818-1883). From his privileged origins in middle class wealth and university learning, Marx was the first to integrate, in masterly theses, the fields of history, economics and sociology, to create ‘scientific socialism’. Misery and poverty of workers, Marx believed, would be overcome by the destruction of capitalism and its wealthy owners.
We have since learned that destruction of any operating state, system, family and faith does not guarantee the glorious equality of outcome envisaged. Marx underestimated industrialists’ capacity to grow and change in societies based on Judeo-Christian ethics of freedom of individuals, known to elicit free speech, initiative and enterprise. Industrialisation brought billions of people out of poverty. Wealthy capitalists became managers of shareholdings rather than owners, bound to cede better pay and conditions for their workers.
In countries where Marx’s philosophies took root, destructive revolutions led to brutal dictatorial rule, starvation, imprisonment, torture and death that continue today. Thought and speech are monitored and controlled. Equality of misery is assured. Just ask the people of Cuba, Venezuela, survivors of Pol Pot in Myanmar, Hungary, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Russia, North Korea and China.
Lessons for today
History shows that destruction of a flawed system does not guarantee it will be replaced with the perfect one envisaged, however well intended, as has often been repeated in the history of communism. People value liberty. Holding onto lessons of history and wisdom from the ages that inspire our health, wellbeing, family and faith is crucial to contesting threats to freedom and benefits our forebears have won so dearly.
Yet today, from the top of the Mazlow hierarchy where many of our needs, even toilet paper, can readily be met, we need to be alert to the Marxist revolution simmering to destroy all that has been so hard won. Note the slow, deliberate erosion of our institutions through the promulgation of lies, deceptions, untruths and misrepresentation, evident in:
- The Great Reset of capitalism promoted by the elites making their mark on the world, in the Green New Deal, the great wealth transference scam, threatening us to pay up or risk catastrophe, years/decades/centuries in the future. All promises, like Communism, have proven false. Yet the Marxist goal of de-industrialisation and destruction of capitalism is rapidly being realised through this very propaganda.
- Extinction Rebellion seeking to make their mark in the world by staining our buildings, deriding our history, preventing the congress of ideas and industry. ER should be stopped in their tracks to feel the full force of the law, at least as much as a pensioner walking in the sun during lockdown or a pregnant woman in her kitchen.
- Politicians and bureaucrats from their ever expanding fiefdoms and increasing pay, who’ve made their mark in daily press conferences promoting their propensity to destroy businesses by arbitrary lockdowns for a virus we will have to learn to live with. At the same time restricting the communion of families and faith, weddings and funerals. Get the drift? Family and faith fragmented.
- Educators who’ve traded education for indoctrination, making their mark on other people’s children, betraying their profession and destroying children’s opportunities for literacy and numeracy. A curriculum stacked with climate change propaganda, gender fluidity, evils of colonialism (never the benefits) and race baiting ensures life options for their captives are limited and depressing.
- Media social activists, no longer journalists, making their mark as key influencers on TV, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, to the empire of the ever offended, undermining truth and resilience. Add activist judges and doctors.
- Military leaders who’ve made their mark failing responsibilities. Who’d send a sociologist to investigate battlefield behaviours, demoralise veterans, and undermine the morale of serving personnel – at least those who haven’t painted their pinky with nail polish? Their real job is to produce force and equipment battle ready, seeing as how we are likely to need it soon the way China is posturing. Didn’t that woke?
- Corporate oligarchs, not satisfied with being the richest men on the planet, tend to think they are also the smartest. Like all great communist leaders, they make their mark on the world by controlling what we can hear, see, learn, think and do. On the inclination of an algorithm seeded with misinformation, they can change the course of opinions, elections and history. We can be cancelled, disappeared. How mighty are these feudal lords! How base we plebs! Time for a reality check!
- Financiers who Velcro their reputation to the woke green agenda by choosing not to finance any fossil fuel projects like coal mines or power stations essential to providing base load power and revenue for health, education and their electric car frolic. In effect, these fools open the market wide to more honest and intelligent investors interested in servicing manufacturing, jobs and energy to the people, especially the poor of this country. What a mark to make!
Making our Olympian Marx
We are ever enriched by traditions, modified, not discarded. Even the Olympics which so enthralled me over a COVID lockdown, are steeped in history, legend and mythology, from which today’s traditions are drawn. For 12 centuries between 8th C BC to 4th C AD, games were held every four years. Circuses are ever important. Modern Olympics resumed in 1896. Symbolism of the lighting of the torch continues, though no longer lit by parabolic mirror and sunrays as at the ancient temple of Hera in Greece.
The modern Pentathlon incorporates skills needed by an ideal Greek cavalry soldier of the era operating behind enemy lines: swimming, equestrian, fencing, pistol shooting and cross country running. Even the marathon stems from the run by Pheidippides from the town of Marathon to Athens, a distance of around 40K, to carry a message of Greek victory.
History and tradition enhance the significance of making a mark winning Olympic honours. Our mark may not be made in winning an Olympic medal, but in supporting and celebrating those who do. At the same time, every bit as remarkable, is living with respect for others and gratitude to those imperfect people who’ve gone before us. Initiative my orphaned grandfather showed escaping from a Dr Barnardo’s home in London when 11 years old, working his way on a ship to Australia, is alive and well in enterprise driven by his descendants today.
We can use the wisdom of discernment to speak out strongly against those gods of the new religions, the new self-appointed lords of our universe who seek to destroy, in order to control, in the best Marxist tradition, rather than adapt the traditions that have brought us to this privileged state. We can claim responsibility for our children, without relinquishing their minds to savage indoctrination and the cocaine high of online capture. If we can do that we will have made our mark.