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Missive #90

I find it very ironic that Will Durant in The Story of Civilization Volume I: Our Oriental Heritage said “Most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice.” He then went on to publish 11 volumes of The Story over a 40 year period from 1935 to 1975. I have started reading Our Oriental Heritage which is 1681 pages in print so I’ll be reading it for a few days to say the least. All 11 volumes may take me a couple of years unless I do nothing but read them. Along the way I be providing you with some quotes.

Man is not willingly a political animal. The human male associates with his fellows less by desire than by habit, imitation, and the compulsion of circumstance; he does not love society so much as he fears solitude. He combines with other men because isolation endangers him, and because there are many things that can be done better together than alone; in his heart he is a solitary individual, pitted heroically against the world. If the average man had had his way there would probably never have been any state. Even today he resents it, classes death with taxes, and yearns for that government which governs least. If he asks for many laws it is only because he is sure that his neighbor needs them; privately he is an unphilosophical anarchist, and thinks laws in his own case superfluous.

Part of the function of parentage is the transmission of a moral code. For the child is more animal than human; it has humanity thrust upon it day by day as it receives the moral and mental heritage of the race. Biologically it is badly equipped for civilization, since its instincts provide only for traditional and basic situations, and include impulses more adapted to the jungle than to the town.

I saw two elk herds this morning. Each one had about 25-30 in the heard including about a dozen calves. I see elk two or three times a week but never this many. I have not seen a bull elk in all the sightings. They should have started to grow their new set of antlers by now but I have not seen any elk with antlers.

Thoughts on Tragedy, or
JR Doles Out “Tough Love” in the Wake of Katrina
By John Ross
Copyright 2005 by John Ross.  Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given

 Last night two men came in the place where I was eating dinner.  One was extremely muscular, semi-drunk, and slightly belligerent.  This, I have found (through decades of careful study), is a three-pronged combination fraught with danger. 

        On the plus side, it made for interesting possibilities, particularly for an observer. 

        With the muscular gent was a very mild and worried-looking fellow I would soon learn was his brother.  The muscular guy wanted to say something to me.  The brother wanted to keep him away, but the man was sitting next to me at the counter, so he really couldn’t.   The guy asked about what food was good to order there.  He was from New Orleans and had come to live with his brother in St. Louis.

        “I lost everything.  I had a boxing school.  Used to box, man, was a champion, now I teach it.  Look at that.” He flexed his arm and pulled his sleeve up to expose one of the biggest biceps I had ever seen.  “I lost everything, man, everything.  Friends, my business, my house, everything I own except my car and what I could put in it.”

        “I’m sorry for your losses, but I don’t feel too sorry for you, because you didn’t lose the most valuable stuff.  The hurricane didn’t blow away the knowledge in your head.  It didn’t put you in a wheelchair for the rest of your life.  It didn’t take away those,” I said, pointing to his arms.  “And it didn’t take away your family in St. Louis.”  The look on his face changed. 

        “Yeah, you’re right, material possessions, yeah, I got insurance, you’re right, but friends died, man…”

        “Oh, might they have lived forever?  I guarantee you some of them were going to end up in hospital beds with pancreatic or colon cancer, and that’s worse than being killed by a hurricane, to my eye.  All of your friends are going to die, sooner or later.”  His expression changed again, like didn’t know what to make of me.  I think he was looking to pick a fight, but realized he wouldn’t enjoy pounding me.  Suddenly a loud black voice caught his attention.  He looked around and spotted the source 20 feet away at a table.  His eyes narrowed.

        “And those fucking niggers, looting whatever they could.  Makes me want to join the Klan.”

        “What do you expect? The government takes away all their incentive to have stable, two parent families, and PAYS the women to raise kids with no fathers.  Then it gives the resulting violent young men a tax-free monopoly on the drug business.  Who do you think has it better right now, you, or one of those looters?  You think he’s got it better than you?”

        “Shit no, but-“

        “So who should I feel sorry for?”

        “You was down in New Orleans and you’d feel sorry for those scum?” he almost shouted.

        “Well, sure, while I was shooting them.  That’s what I do.  You teach boxing–I teach shooting.  And New Orleans is now what we in my field would call a ‘target-rich environment’.”  The big guy couldn’t help himself.  He started to laugh, and stuck out his hand.  His brother looked like he’d just witnessed a miracle.  They both looked a lot better when they left. 

        If you ever want to make a man not want to fight you, make him feel better about himself.

  John Ross 9/7/2005

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