Sunday, August 14, 2005

Noblesse Oblige

A few quotes that have been helping me get through the past couple of weeks...

Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own; which is the chief reason for that kind reception it meets with in the world, and that that so few are offended with it. But, if it should happen otherwise, the danger is not great; and I have learned from long experience never to apprehend mischief from those understandings I have been able to provoke: for anger and fury, though they add strength to the sinews of the body, yet are found to relax those of the mind, and to render all its efforts feeble and impotent.

Jonathan Swift - The Battle of the Books
The following struck me forcefully with its unerring similarity to the cadences and content of a Bush speech. The sentiment of course is an extremely diluted sense of noblesse oblige. On the prescience of satirists again...
A sermon delivered to the congregation of the Church of the Holy Monument in Boggington by the Chief Constable.

"I say unto you that unless we maintain the bonds of free enterprise and free endeavour we shall be bounden to do the Devil's work," he announced from the pulpit. "Our business in the world is to augment the goodness that is God's love with the fruition of free enterprise and to put aside those things which the Welfare State handed us on a plate and thus deprived us of the need to which we must pay homage. That need, dear brothers and sisters in God, is to take care of ourselves as individuals and so save the rest of the community doing it out of the taxpayer's pocket.

Only this week , I have been encouraged to see how many Watch Committees and Neigbourhood Watches have been set up to augment that splendid work being done by the Police everywhere and in particular by the men under my command. It is not often that I have a chance or, I might say, the opportunity to do the Lord's work in the way he would have me do, namely, like your goodselves, to encourage others to free themselves from the shackles of passivity and acceptance and to go forth into the world to bring the positive and active blessings of health, wealth and happiness to those less fortunate than ourselves.

This is not to say that we must bow the knee to social need or so-called deprivation. Instead we must make of ourselves and our gifts in business and in wealth whatsoever we can. As the Lord has told me, there are as many numerous spin-offs on the way to Heaven as there are handouts on the slippery road to Hell. It is one thing to give a penny to a beggar: it is another to beg oneself. And so I say to you dear friends, assist the police wherever you can in the prevention of crime and in the pursuit of justice but never forget that the way of righteousness is the way of self-service and not the other way around. And so let us pray."

Tom Sharpe - The Midden (1996)

The shock of reading Jonathan Swift at his best cannot be discounted. The set up is done with a poker face and the exposition is so skilled that, when you realize just how far out of this world he has taken you, you can only laugh.
I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasse or a ragout.

Jonathan Swift - A Modest Proposal for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland from being a burthen to their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the public.
As they say, Eating People is Wrong.

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2 comments:

Bubu said...

u ok? been a while since u blogged...come on, i'm having withdrawal symptoms!!!

Gardner said...

What bubu said. Everything ok?