“Hunt out and talk about the good that is in the other fellow’s church, not the bad, and you will do away with all this religious hatred you hear so much nowadays.” – Will Rogers, 11 March 1923
This quote from Will definitely applies to the churches in the U.S. but it equally applies to many other things that are problematic in our country today. As I commonly state on my other blog over at RedLetterLiving.net there are currently more than 39,000 different versions of the Christian church in the world. Most are the result of splits around different beliefs about this or that. We seem to always be looking at why we should be different and split rather than what we have in common. If we only took Will’s words to heart I think the number would be vastly different.
The political parties in this country have now devolved into hatred for each other over our differences. We can no longer seem to come together for what we find good in ourselves. We no longer seem to be able to compromise. Much of this division is totally unnecessary if only we would swallow a little of our pride in believing that we are the only ones who have it right about this or that.
I have found that sometimes it is better to just say “I know this is not the way I would have done (fill in the subject) but that’s ok. Not everything in life has to go totally our way in order for us to be happy. When we insist on that happening then we most assuredly doom ourselves to frustration and constant bickering. That is not a way to live during our brief time on this earth.
“This country is a thousand times bigger than any two men in it, or any two parties in it.” – Will Rogers, 2 November 1932
I seem to often get ground down by the politics of the day. Especially with all the gridlock and bickering that is always there. Thanks Will for reminding me that the country is a thousand times bigger than all those ornery folks in Washington or the two parties that now occupy space there.
Outside the Washington beltway and several State houses there is still a lot of good going on in this country and lets never forget it. As Will says “Politics is applesauce”.
“The minute a thing is long and complicated it confuses. Whoever wrote the Ten Commandments made ‘em short. They may not always be kept, but they can be understood.” – Will Rogers, 17 March 1935
What is even more amazing it that Jesus turned those ten into just two. Love God and Love each other. How could it be simpler than that.
“There is nothing that sets a nation back as far in civilization as prosperity.” – Will Rogers, 2 April 1933
Yeah Will, prosperity does seem to bring out the animal in many of us. Just look at the Robber Barons of the early 20th century for evidence of that. Heck, you don’t even have to look that far back, just look at the 1%ers now who will do just about anything to maintain their wealth. Prosperity brings out the best in a few but the worst in others.
“…elections are a good deal like marriages, there is just no accounting for anyone’s taste.” – Will Rogers, 10 May 1926
You got that right Will. Of course when you made this quote Calvin Coolidge was president Hoover was just around the corner to replace him. I guess you were a pretty good predictor of the future. I had the very same thoughts in November 2004 when Mr. Bush was given a second term. I couldn’t understand the taste of the electorate that year.
“It takes a long time to find out how wrong you are sometimes.” – Will Rogers, 8 August 1933
I’m not sure why what Will declares here is true but I think it has something to do with our stubbornness. Once we get locked into a particular idea it is just so hard to admit that we might have been wrong to start with. I know it took the radical stands of Ronald Reagan for me to finally admit that I belonged to the wrong political party if I belonged to any party at all.
I know everyone who is a member of the human species takes a long time to find out how wrong we are but I kind of think this is more dominant with us in the U.S. than it is with most others. We strut around the world telling everyone else what is wrong with their way of thinking and then sending in our military if they don’t agree. As the Bible says we need to take the plank out of our own eyes first.
Sometimes we totally ignore how wrong we might be and never get around to admitting it. I kind of knew even in the beginning that I was probably in the wrong profession when I started out my engineering career so many years ago. I ignored what I knew was probably wrong for thirty years. It is not that I didn’t have some fun and made some contributions in the profession I ended up in. It is just that I now know I have gifts that were unfulfilled. Now I am trying to make up for those years when I should have been doing something else. But that is life I guess, better late than never…..
“This is a great country. You never know where our heroes will come from.” – Will Rogers, 7 June 1933
One of the great things about this country is that anyone who is fortunately enough to have just the right circumstances come about can be a hero for future generations. Many have sports heroes who they admire for their ability to do a particular thing like putting a ball into a hole, hitting it with a stick, throwing it to a teammate. I can’t say that any of those qualities make someone a hero to me. But to each his own when it comes to heroes.
My heroes are more of the intellectual or humanitarian nature. Obviously, to anyone who has read much of this post knows that Will Rogers, Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, John Steinbeck, and Gandhi are among my heroes. This group range across the spectrum as far as wealth and influence go. Some came from poverty, some from privileged classes. Most just went about their daily business with other people’s welfare in mind. Those are my kind of heroes.
I, like many others, have become a big fan of the british TV series entitled “Downton Abbey”. It is a story about an early twentieth century aristocratic family and all the “commoners” who served them. The intertwining of all their lives is what makes the show endearing. I must admit that I am an antagonist when it comes to a privileged classes especially inherited wealth. So, it somewhat surprised me to be attracted to this show.
Even up until recently many of the countries in Europe were very class oriented. That is if you were born into a particular class that is where you stayed for your life. Moving outside of your class was just unheard of in those days. I’m sure this continues to some extent even today but I think it is quickly disappearing; at least I hope it is.
The United States is a country that has always been about opportunity for all. Anyone can go as far as their drive, ambition, and intellect allow them. That is what makes this country great. I am troubled by the current trends toward aristocracy in this country that is taking place due to inherited wealth. The top one-percent of the population control a very large percentage of the wealth of the country. This troubles me greatly some times.
“[War] won’t stop till there is as much brains and scientific study put to aid peace as there is to promote war.” – Will Rogers, 1 June 1929
Of course these words were spoken not long after World War I which was inaptly titled the “war to end all wars”. Of course it didn’t accomplish that noble task. President Wilson tried his best to put together the United Nations to insure no more world wars but like these times there was just too much Republican bravado going on to prevent that from happening.
I wonder what the world would be like today if he had managed to assemble a world organization with some teeth to collectively deal with rogue nations such as North Korea or Iran. If that had happened maybe we would have some money to spend on how to aid peace. Sadly we will never know as that was like so many other things a missed opportunity.
When we start out trying to make everybody have Moral elections, why, it just dont look like we going to have Marines enough to go round.” – Will Rogers, 26 May 1928
After Mr. Bush discovered that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq he turned on a dime to say that he invaded Iraq so that the people would have moral elections. It looks like that argument is older than I thought as here is Will’s quote from eighty-five years ago saying the same thing. We didn’t have enough Marines this time around either. He ended up sending every able-bodied person he could find including those who are supposed to be guarding our nation. Those weren’t even enough so he hired “private contractors” at several times the Marine wage to do some of the necessary killing for him.
And look where that all got us. We have an extra trillion dollars of debt, thousands of kids with missing limbs and still no moral elections in Iraq. Just the same old sectarian fighting and violence as before. When will we ever learn to keep our noses out of other countries business.
No slick lawyers, or income tax experts can get you out of a national sales tax. It’s so much on the dollar on every luxury you buy. Then, if you like to live in luxury, the poor fellow knows you are paying for it and he will even encourage you to buy more so it will help out the government. November 2, 1924 Will Rogers
This morning’s post was about closing tax loopholes so I thought I would continue with that thread this afternoon. I am one that believe that a significant amount of our taxes should be raised with a national sales tax. As Will says in the above post it will almost assure the “poor fellow knows you are paying for it”. That is if we can keep the friends of the rich otherwise known as the “Grand Old Party” from filling the sales tax with giant loopholes for planes and such. And that is a giant “if”.
But always remember this, that as bad as we sometimes think our government is run, it’s the best run one I ever saw.” – Will Rogers, 18 December 1932
Sometimes the ever-present trollers who come across my blog have to scream and rant for me to just get out of the country if I hate it so much. To them if anyone has any criticism of the “Good Old USA” then somehow they are traitors to the country. But their rants often have the opposite effect on me. They tell me that I got their attention with what I was saying and I must have hit a nerve as they took the time to rant.
I guess there are others who don’t feel comfortable saying anything negative about their country. To them that just seems unpatriotic or at least not loving your country. I look at it the other way around. In order to keep our government on a righteous path we citizens need to constantly be on the guard against corruption and graft. In order to make the country better for future generations we need to criticize where criticism is needed. We need to make sure that the people who we choose as our leaders are the best possible and have high moral standards that we constantly measure them against.
So, even though you might see me criticize often on this blog I , like Will, think it is the best run country on earth and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. But, then again I probably don’t say enough good things about this country. Maybe I should do that more often…..
Betrayed by friendship is not a bad memorial to leave. – 16 June 1931 Will Rogers
Will, I had to think about this one to understand what you were talking about. I think it means that is it better to have friends even if some end up betraying you than it is to have no friends at all. That’s kind of deep but knowing you as I do I suspect that is your point. It kind of like the one about “its better to have love and lost than not to have loved at all”.
Yeah, some friendships can result in betrayal but that is just the chance you take. I have one encounter with betrayed friendship in my life and that did hurt me pretty deeply. But I have lost several friends due to taking a different paths in life. One of my best friends of past years is now someone who I would never associate with. He has gone from a compassionate and caring person to someone who is reeks of prejudice and spite for those outside his political and religious beliefs. I don’t really understand how that happened?
I have had other friends, some I considered pretty close who never even tried to keep communications opened when we were ejected from a local church over failing to fall in line with all the denominational beliefs. I don’t regret having those friends even though I now realize just how shallow they were I deemed them good friends at the time and was sad to see them drop away.
Friends are hard to come by and to lose them for stupid reasons is hard to accept. But that is just life I guess. But there are some friends who just seem to love us no matter what our circumstance or beliefs are and they are our canine ones. Thank heavens for them. As Harry Truman said years ago “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog”. Maybe we should expand that to life in general.
There is people so excited over this election that they think the President has something to do with running this country. – 30 October 1932 Will Rogers
I am going to leave the quote above to pretty much stand on it own. Many want to blame the president on everything that happens in the country. “It rained so much today, it must be the president’s fault”. I am more of a realist maybe. I don’t think any of those yahoos in Washington have much to do with what happens in the country. And thanks heavens for that!
I hope we never live to see the day when a thing is as bad as some of our newspapers make it. – 19 July 1934 – Will Rogers
In Will’s day newspapers were pretty much the only place to get a glimpse of the daily news. Except for a few monthlies, magazines had not come into common use. Of course the Internet and cable news networks were fifty or more years in the future. Will Rogers had two very famous quotes in his day “I never met a man I didn’t like” and “All I know is what I read in the newspaper”.
Fast forward to today and newspaper, at least the print variety, are going the way of the horse and buggy. Even the news magazines have come and pretty much gone. But what is here now is 24/7 cable news and thousands, if not millions, of different Internet news sources. Many people just feel overwhelmed by all this information available so as to tune out all but those who seem to agree with their current worldview.
Even though we have in-your-face news now it seems that many just don’t have the time to even glimpse at it, let alone attempt to absorb it. I think part of the problem is that things have just changed so much in the last fifty years relating to living. The typical family of years ago was the dad who had a good secure eight-hour a day job earning a living wage and the mom who stayed at home to nurture the kids. Zoom forward to today and most families, even if they are two parent households, which most aren’t, are often holding down three or more low wage jobs between them just to put a roof over their heads and food on the table. When you work 12 – 15 hours a day there is just not much time to for anything else.
Getting back to the topic of Will’s quote above, cable news and many Internet sources thrive on creating conflict and controversy where it doesn’t really exist. They seem to be like the kid in the school yard who was always prodding his classmate into fighting each other. I am one who takes the quote above with some seriousness. What we see as urgent today is never as bad as those guys make it to be and that includes the sequester that everyone seems to be dreading now.
The difference between our rich and poor grows greater every year. Our distribution of wealth is getting more uneven all the time. . . . A man can make a million over night and he is on every page in the morning. But it never tells you who give up the million he got. You can’t get money without taking it from somebody. – 1 June 1930 Will Rogers
As Will points out here the difference between the rich and the poor has always been greater than many of us would like to see but I really don’t think in Will’s day it was even remotely as wide a gap as it is today. The latest statistics show that there is about $58 trillion of wealth in the U.S. But as the chart to the right shows 80% of the population controls only 7% of the wealth. That is about $10,000 per person for 80% of us. The top 1% average $7,000,000/person.
But as Will further points out that there is just so much wealth that can be owned. There has been a twenty fold increase in billionaire in the last twenty years. In order for the money to come to them it had to come from someone else. Of course we all know where it came from. It came for the wages and benefits of the 80% that have actually decreased over that same period of time.
I’m not a financial wizard but it really doesn’t seem like rocket science to me to understand that if we want to grow our GDP we must have citizens who have the money to buy additional goods and services. The 1% can only buy so many jets and yachts. In fact most of their increased wealth is likely just sitting in off-shore accounts accumulating interest. When the elite among us insist on stagnating wages there are no additional resources to grow our economy. It is a Catch-22 and that I can understand so why can’t the big shot economists in the gOp figure it out?
If I was a President and wanted something I would claim I didn’t want it. For Congress has not given any President anything he wanted in the last 10 years. Be against anything and then he is sure to get it. – 5 May 1923 – Will Rogers
I can’t understand why each president seems to have to learn this lesson on their own. But, I think President Obama finally gets it. If he wants something to happen the best thing he can do is to remain quiet about it. Mr. Boehner is constantly harping that the president is not involved enough in the legislative process but what I think he really means is that he wants to know what the president is for so he and all the other sheep in the GOP led house can line up against it.
I imagine it is hard sometimes to put together a list of what you are against. Especially for those House Republicans. They just get lazy on occasion and don’t want to do the work to make up their own “against” list. That is when they insist that President Obama do it for them. A perfect example of that is the immigration reform plan leaked by the White House. It was certain to be “DEAD ON ARRIVAL” before it even left the White House door.
I am waiting for Mr. Obama to evolve into the next phase of Will’s strategy. I expect that soon he will come out with a list of things he is against. If he is good at it the conservatives will want to get everything on that list into law as soon as possible. But the secret is to make sure that Mr. Boehner and company are convinced that he really is against them. Mr. Obama is a pretty smart guy so I pray that he get good at this game so we the people might be able to get something good from the 113th congress. But in reality I kind of doubt anything productive will come from that bunch….
But, I’m just a simple guy so what do I know……
Somebody is always telling us in the papers how to prevent war. There is only one way in the World to prevent war, and that is, FOR EVERY NATION TO TEND TO ITS OWN BUSINESS. – June 28, 1925 Will Rogers
Will I know you are right about this but it seems that eighty years later our country still can’t seem to understand your words of wisdom. We still want to get into every nation’s business as if it were our own. There are those in the Senate, particularly Mr. McCain and that bunch, who have not seen a war they don’t want to get into or one that they want to get completely out of. They continue to huff and puff about Iran and that is just what the leaders of that country want. They crave the attention. Even when we “declare” victory we always leave many of our soldier there for an eternity. Over fifty thousand troops are still in Korea and Germany and those wars were supposedly over more than sixty years ago! We just spend too much time in other countries business!
In the Senate confirmation hearings for the secretary of Department of Defense these guys were down right vindictive of the nominee. I couldn’t believe the nastiness of the rhetoric that Mr. McCain had for his one time close friend! If only we just stayed out of other countries business as you told us we could eliminate needlessly putting so many of our kids at risk and maybe find a way in lieu of balancing our budgets on the backs of the poor of reducing our deficits.
Let’s make it a new doctrine of the 21st century to tend to our own business. The first thing to do to accomplish that is to resign from being the policemen of the world. The rest of the world just doesn’t want us to play that role anyway. Lets just tend to our own business and let everyone else tend to theirs….
But we are both just simple guys so what do we know….
No man is great if he thinks he is. – 1 March 1929 Will Rogers
Vanity is a powerful force in us human beings. We all like to think that we are great in one aspect or another. After all, none of us want to go through life thinking we have not made at least a small dent in this world. Some are humble about their greatness. Gandhi and Mother Teresa immediately come to mind in that category. But for every humble person there are thousands who think they are greater than they are.
Thinking you are great when you aren’t is something that seems epidemic in Washington DC. It must be something in the water that creates that illusion. Anybody that has done any studying of our current political scene knows that 99.9% of what goes on there is about power and self-preceived greatness. I swear I just can’t understand how the Capital Building can even accommodate all those inflated egos without exploding.
But lets not limit inflated egos to the beltway. They are also massively prevalent in some of the more affluent parts of our society. Any guy who managed to find a niche that allowed him to make some money thinks the rest of us are idiots. Some of these folks believe because they made a few bucks that they are now great and can rule over the rest of us with their greatness. They tell their employees how they want them to vote. They keep wages low so that they can brag about all their ever accumulating wealth. They just love being a big fish, even in a small pond.
Thinking that you are great is something that all of us, me included, need to get over. God, who is the ultimate judge of greatness, loves that little baby who just died in Africa due to malnutrition just as much as any of the rest of us. When we thoroughly understand that then we just might able to achieve some small level of greatness.
Thanks Will for your words of wisdom….
I have always regretted that I didn’t live about 30 or 40 years earlier, and in the same old Country, the Indian Territory. I would have liked to got here ahead of the ‘Nestors,’ the Bob wire fence, and so called civilization. – Will Rogers
I have mentioned on the right column of this blog that I am part native American and proud of it. Sometimes these roots seem to come to the surface on this blog. This quote from Will did that.
Many times in my life I have dreamed that I was a mountain man in the Rocky Mountains. One of my favorite movies is Jeremiah Johnson which is about those folks. I have watched it so many times I can just about quote the dialog before it is said.
So, I am kind of like Will here; I wish I had been around before civilization polluted this “good old country”. I live near a small town of about 2,000 people but that even seems crowded now and again.
Our financial ills will never be settled till you fix it so every man will pay an income tax on what he earns, be it a farm, grocery store or municipal or government bonds — Will Rogers March 21,1933
Will’s words above were spoken during the heights of the depression but even then the rich were finding loopholes to avoid paying taxes. I have never understood how “unearned income” is treated any differently than the income the average guy has to sweat in order to earn. But for some reason, and I’m sure the politicians had their hand in it, “unearned income” is taxed at a lower rate called capital gains than when it is earned by the sweat of your brow.
To take advantage of this loophole most wealthy people do not actually have much income that is “earned”. That is they get their income from the wealth they already have. For instance more than 80% of Mr. Romney’s income was considered capital gains; that is how he and so many other rich guys can get away with paying less percentage of taxes than most of us. More…