Archives For Will Rogers
“A fool that knows he is a fool is one that knows he don’t know all about anything, but the fool that don’t know he is a fool is the one that thinks he knows all about anything. Then he is a dam fool.” – Will Rogers, 7 August 1927
This is one of Will’s more philosophical quotes. Those who think they know everything are just damn fools. I have certainly run across my share of these folks. Many have even passed through this blog on occasion but thankfully they don’t stay long.
“I don’t care who you are, you just can’t reach middle life without having done and said a whole lot of foolish things.” – Will Rogers, 28 December 1934
I think cleansing my soul might be a good way to start off this new year and what better way to do it than around a quote from Will Rogers. I will personally attest to what Will said in the above quote. I did some pretty foolish things in my years. At the tender age of 17 I became addicted to nicotine. That addiction would last for over thirty years before I finally broke it. Looking back I can see where I missed so many opportunities because of my smoking. One of the girls I was thoroughly infatuated with in college quickly let me know that she was not interested. I’m sure now a big part of it was because of my smoking and resulting foul smell.
One of the things I learned later in life is that the teenage brain is just not fully developed in many areas. This resulted in many foolish ideas during those years. I was so in love with my first car that I was convinced that I would rather die in a crash rather than lose my car. I also drank too much in my high school and college years. That made me do even more stupid/foolish things.
Another foolish thing I did in my youth was to consistently vote Republican but since I have now sworn off political stuff I will say no more about that….
We all do foolish things in our lives but seem to conveniently forget about most of them when we are dealing with today’s youth or with those who might have had to more seriously deal with the consequences of their foolish things. I think Will is trying to tell us to give them some slack. As the old saying goes “there but for the grace of God go I”.
Ah, I feel a little better now so bring on this new year.
Oh, by the way the picture above is of Will sitting in a chair swinging his ever present lasso while writing a blog post. They called them newspaper columns in his day. Let’s all strive to do a little better this year than last and to try to think a little less about ourselves and more for others; especially those down on their luck.. Isn’t that the least we can do???
“There is one rule that works in every calamity. Be it pestilence, war or famine, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” – Will Rogers, 1 November 1929
Notice this quote was only a couple of days after the giant stock market crash starting the Great Depression. That day wiped out a lot of “paper” fortunes and a lot of real jobs. It would be more than a decade before we began to really recover. And that even took a world war to accomplish. While we have faced many more calamities in the years since nothing compares to the Great Depression.
Will Rogers was one of those rich guys and I’m sure he lost thousands of dollars on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929 but you never heard much from him lamenting his personal loss. His main concern was for the common guy to lost his often 80-hour a week below minimum wage, even though there was not such a thing, job and could no longer support his family. He, unlike many in the upper percentages of wealth, was more concerned about the common good than personal gain or loss. That, with the exception of a few, seems to be a rare commodity in today’s world. And that is why he inspired me and is a hero of mine…..
“I think the same fellow who started that self-made man gag started that other asinine expression, ’100 per cent American.’” – Will Rogers, 28 October 1923
Will was just not one to parse his words. He spoke what he thought. I like to think I am like him in that regard. I also like to think that I also, like him, do it in a respectable manner without rants and personal attacks. At least I try to do that.
Will was turned off by certain phrases and these two above were on that list. To him there is no such thing as self-made. We all owe a debt to the society that sustains us. We all depend on others for what we have in life. Our mentors, our heroes, and yes even our advisories shape who we are. No one is ever self-made.
Likewise there is no such thing as 100% American. We are a very diverse country with many different opinions and beliefs. What makes us great is our willingness to accept others views even when they differ from our own. At least that is what has made us great in the past. In today’s USA I’m not sure that idea has legs anymore.
So when I hear all those out there saying that they are somehow 100% American I, like Will, immediately am cautious of what words may follow.
“A nation is just like an individual. If a man’s neighbors all hate him and he is continually in trouble, and all his fights and troubles are always over in the other fellow’s yard, he must be wrong.” – Will Rogers, 30 March 1927
Why we continue to always be fighting in the other fellow’s yard is beyond me. I am very thankful that for the most part our fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. We will likely on leave a couple hundred thousand of our soldiers there but that is considered a withdrawal by modern standards. .
I am very thankful to our president for not getting us into more fights in Syria and Iran. But I am kind of waiting for the next shoe to drop. One of my biggest disappointments with President Obama is he is listening to all the generals way too much. That and his killer robot drone program totally disappoints me…
“And that’s what makes us a great nation. We take the little things serious, and the big ones as a joke.” – Will Rogers, 15 September 1933
I must admit that getting away from the politics of our nation the above quote rings pretty true of these times. But, in these times everything is a joke in politics. I bet when Will originally penned these words in 1933 many people weren’t taking the serious things to do with the Great Depression as a joke! But that was just Will Rogers for you; he tried to put some jovial spin on everything to lighten the mood. I wish I were as good at that as he was…
Many of the original founders of our country were hesitant volunteers in that nation building process. They say that all the time that George Washington spent in New York, which was the nation’s capital at that time, were spent dreaming about his Virginia home and wishing he was there. Jefferson and Madison were much the same. Many of the great leaders since that time have also been reluctant to serve.
I don’t know exactly when it happened that being a politician became a full time job. I guess I will have to put that on my never ending to-do list to find out but according to the quote above it must have been before Will’s time. I am coming to believe that about the only way to get anything done in that stagnant city of Washington is to enforce some pretty strong term-limits. There doesn’t seem to be any other way to get many of those folks to go home. The only other way I can see if for our judicial system to dig into shutting down the gerrymandering practices that have assured an almost life time appointment for most of the yahoos in the House of Representatives. I am a dreamer but I really don’t see either of these things happening anytime soon.
Another way we could image to get them out is to educate the voters about the issues and hand and who is doing what about them. The reason the incumbents seem to get re-elected so much is that their names are about the only ones they know when they enter the voting booth so that is the button they push. Thomas Jefferson said a democracy stands only on an informed electorate. If that is really the case we are in serious trouble right now.
We have got to find a way to convince the hesitant volunteer to once again get involved in politics. He would serve his time and then go home so that the next person can try his/her hand. Yes, I realize that I am a hopeless dreamer here.
“Too many people spend money they earned..to buy things they don’t want..to impress people that they don’t like.” ― Will Rogers
You know Will you are on to something here. I know you were around when all the saber-rattling was going on in Europe in the early 1930s. I know you had at least a preliminary taste of what Hitler would bring onto that region but you missed out on the second war to end all wars. We tried to stay out of that one but our now Japanese friends insisted on coming across the Pacific, at least half way, to attack us.
But you are right in that the Atlantic and Pacific have probably kept us out of a lot of the trouble those guys in the other side of the world seem to always be in. If only those Wright brothers had not invented the airplane we might still be able to live peaceably among ourselves. And of course, you would probably have lived a few more years to give us even more of your wit and wisdom. But then again there is that sticky black stuff we depend on so much over there… Why haven’t we stripped ourselves of that addiction yet??
On 15 August 1935, Will Rogers and Wiley Post were on their way from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Barrow, Alaska, when they encountered some heavy fog. Post knew they were near Barrow, but due to the conditions, was having difficulty spotting any landmarks. After spotting a small native camp near Walakpa Lagoon, Wiley Post landed the plane to ask for directions to Barrow. After Will and Wiley got out and stretched their legs, Clair Okpeaha, one of the natives, directed them towards Barrow.
Upon take off from lagoon, the plane began a steep accent, and banked sharply to the right. At approximately two hundred feet, the engine backfired and stopped. The plane tumbled downward, and struck the water, killing both Will Rogers and Wiley Post instantly.
The above quote comes from the Will Rogers Facebook page today. In my mind Will Rogers was one of the premiere statesmen of the twentieth center. His wit and wisdom helped many through the dark beginning days of the Great Depression. I mourn your loss even 78 years after the fact.
Be careful you might just get what you plan for. I seem to have to learn that lesson over and over again through my life. I am a planner to my soul. When I was six years old you could often find me out on the dewy grass on a summer night staring at the stars and wondering/planning what my future would look like. And for the next sixty years I have continued to the same thing.
In my very early years I played out scenarios, even though I did not know that was a word back then, on where I might be heading. But one of the most fundamental problems in my life is that I have never seemed to come to a final conclusion about my fate. I seem to still be stuck in “what do I want to do when I grow up” mode. So, I guess I am a pretty good planner on the non-foundations things but not so good at the more important stuff. Maybe I am a more serious procrastinator than I am a serious planner.? I have probably made thousands of unplayed plans in head throughout my life. But, there were many that happened; some good and some not so good.
Looking back over the last six decades, I am very glad that I am a planner. It made me excel in some areas of life, particularly the information technology field that I chose as my second career. Without good plans software turn into “garbage in – garbage out”. In some areas my plans have gotten my into trouble from time to time. I found, like you said Will, that I had to work my way out. Sometimes my plans were just too grandiose; but most times they were just not challenging enough to encourage constant growth.
In my senior years I have learned to back off a little with my obsessive planning and just let things happen. I currently have a project of turning my 20+ year old truck into a micro-RV. This is a long term and unplanned project. I do what I feel like doing on any particular day. I have learned that free styling has its advantage sometimes. I try to live in the moment more than I have at any other time of my life. Maybe I will get into less trouble that way. Who knows??
Maybe I am looking at the politics thing all wrong Will? As you say if our congress is doing nothing maybe that is a good thing. Maybe when they do things is when they get in trouble? I know this is one of your more popular quotes, but I kind of think you get it wrong in at least a couple of areas.
- When one small portion of the population lords it over all the rest of us we have to depend on our government to give us the muscle we need to correct the situation.
- When our citizens are dying unnecessarily because of lack of adequate healthcare someone has to come in and do the Christian thing and help our brothers out.
- When someone comes along and threatens the very foundation of our democracy by trying to squelch the vote some with some power needs to stamp that out.
I am primarily a “power to the people” type person. I believe that government should stay out of my way as much as possible and let me make my own mistakes and successes. But when the problem is much bigger than I am I need help and that is where government “should” come in. The problem with this idea is to elect people who know the difference.
You didn’t have a lot of confidence in the people in government in your days and I guess I don’t either. Especially the last dozen years or so when the clowns and wing-nuts took over. I’m just not sure that it is the “legislative body” as you say is the problem but instead it is the yahoos who we elect to fill those seats. Currently all the seats seem to be filled with people who are more concerned about themselves and their particular political leanings. There just doesn’t seem to be anyone looking out for good of the country anymore. There are just too many wing-nuts who are clinging to the most extreme views of the world today.
Like you Will, I try to be an optimist. I think it is possible to push the current ones out and put in more centrist minded folks to take care of our basic needs. It might take a while but I still think it can happen. But one of the necessary prerequisites is that people turn off their favorite cable news channel and look at what is going on with their own eyes and brains.
But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know.
All of us have an ego but in some it is much more inflated than others. Our current politicians seem to have much more than their share of ego. But there also is plenty available to us outside the political sphere.
It seems to me that one of the primary characteristics of people who think they are great is that they constantly are looking inward. They come first and everyone else is a very distant second. After all, to them, the world is focused on them. Giant egos get us into so much trouble. I think that one of the reasons for such high divorce rates is egos clashing. The divorced couple never grow to being a team because each is too focused on their individual needs. A successful marriage depends on one degree on tempered egos.
When you are always looking inward you just don’t see beyond yourself. Now don’t get me wrong, an ego is a good thing up to a point. We should be rightly proud of moments of significant accomplishments. We should pat ourselves on the back for all the hard work we did to accomplish it. If we have no ego then we will probably have no self-esteem or self-respect and that is not a good thing. When we only think of ourselves as a worthless piece of snot, as some suggest we should, then we are no good for ourselves or anyone else.
No man is great if he thinks he is. I have seen several people in my life who very much match this phrase. But, fortunately I have also met many who put others ahead of themselves. Of course Jesus Christ is the perfect example of that and he expects us to follow his example as much as we are able. Jesus was about serving, not be served and that is the opposite of ego if I have ever seen it. Like almost everything else in life your ego is not a black/white thing but instead is what shade of grey you choose to live in.
I don’t know Will I think you might be a little off track here at least in terms of today’s America. We don’t seem to be able to forgive our neighbors of anything. We are constantly bickering with each other as to how to do this or that. We seem to be just so afraid of each other that we find it acceptable for one person to kill another if they just feel threatened. Too many of us are of the mentality that having a gun is the answer to all our problems with those “other” people. When did most of us become “other” people?
Stupidity seems to almost be the norm now instead of a “possible exception” as you say. When the politicians among us spout the most absurd political beliefs we just seem to take it in without any thinking. If that is not stupidity I don’t know what is.
Now before any of you start accusing me of “painting with too broad a brush” I want to add some exceptions here. Yes, there are those among us who still have a lick of sense and can see through all those wild claims by others. They can see through it and mark it off as trash that it is. I think this is more true for all us Midwesterners than it is for all you folks huddled around our coastline.
Finishing up here Will, I guess we have devolved as a country since your day. We no longer seem to be willing to forgive anyone of anything and there doesn’t seem to be any weakness that we are willing to give a pass on….
When some nation wants us to help ‘em out they use the same old “gag”, that we should exert our “Moral Leadership” and, like a yap, we believe it, when as a matter of truth, no nation wants any other nation exerting a “Moral leadership” over ‘em even if they had one. – Will Rogers
Will it amazes me how eighty plus years ago you can tell us so much that we think is somehow new today. Moral leadership, yeah that is a good one. I remember President Bush using those words over and over again to get us into some pretty deep troubles. He would always say it is necessary for us to force democracy on every country in the Middle East. Ok, so he didn’t use those exact words but that is what he meant.
As ignorant sheep all those yahoos in congress got in line behind his bravado. A trillion bucks in debt later they started to wonder just how valuable our moral leadership really was. Then came the Arab Spring where so-called democracies sprang up on their own. Anyone who is even a casual observer of U.S. history knows that a democracy must spring from within. Forcing a democracy on someone just doesn’t work. I hope we have at least learned that lesson for our money?
All of my conservative friends were so excited to see a democratically elected president in Egypt last year. So was I. They were convinced that Egypt was just the first of many democracies that their president would be responsible for. When I say democratically elected I certainly don’t mean a Democrat elected; they would never celebrate that.
But it seems the Middle East versions of democracy just don’t have the staying power of ours. After just fourteen months they threw out their president and their new constitution. It will be interesting to see what they eventually replace them with.
Getting back to Will’s quote above it is obvious that Mr. Bush did not invent the idea of moral leadership. In fact he is only the latest of a long line of conservative presidents who have touted those words. As Will points out moral leadership when you break it down is nothing more than sticking your nose in someone else’s business and that is seldom actually welcomed. We are having some serious problems right now with that crew in DC but I can’t imagine we would embrace any “Moral leadership” from another countries leader showing us how to resolve our current situation.
Maybe that is the solution for our current gridlock in Washington. Just shut it down and go fishing. But remember to turn off the money spigot before they leave. There is a lot of hot air in that area of Virginia that needs to be blown out to sea.
In my younger bachelor days I had a fifteen foot bass boat that I took around the country. I really wasn’t much of a fisherman but I guess I caught my share. It was more about being out there on the lake than anything else. Being that close to nature and its corresponding serenity was what it was all about. Everything else just tended to melt away during those hours.
If those yahoos in Washington need anything it is to wash away all the bitterness and spite that has enveloped that city. They need to chill out and discover that “it” is not always about them and their re-election campaigns. They need to understand that the billions of bucks that they hand out daily is not theirs but belongs to those who elected them. They were sent there to do the people’s business to accomplish the greater good and to provide for the general welfare of the whole country. In other words they need to learn how to be the statesmen that their predecessors were.
Another saying that was popular from Will is that the best thing congress could do for the people is to take a two-week vacation. But, given the circumstance I’m sure two-weeks is not enough. Hell, I’m not even sure two years is long enough.
But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….
Let’s face it, no one likes to think that they are common. We all like to see ourselves as different from everyone else. As teenagers we spend an inordinate amount to time to make ourselves different. So much so that teenagers all end up being pretty common.
About the worst insult you can give anyone is to call them common. Many of us refuse to believe in statistical analysis that can show in advance what we think or who we will vote for. If we are that predictable then we must be pretty common.
But we all have to eventually face the fact that outside our immediate families there is very little about most of us that will remain after we are gone. Our thoughts and actions will pretty much be thrown on the trash heap of time.
Will thought of himself as a pretty common guy and therefore didn’t get the “big head” very often but he is one of the few who actually outlived his body being six foot under. His words and inspirations will live on because of that fact. So maybe the answer to all this gibberish is to not get too upset about being called common. Who knows who the next Will Roger might be? Who will be the next guy that has much wisdom beyond his share?
But I am just a common guy so what do I know.
Since I have been trying to chill out more lately I have been going back to a source of mental stability in my life and that is the words of Will Rogers. The words above should be the bible for all of us who want to know what is really important to do with your life.
I am an altruist and being one much of my life is now centered about others who have much bigger challenges than I do. I think that is a pretty noble thing to focus on in life and I am trying hard to do just that. But that doesn’t mean that you have to throw your personal happiness out the window to accomplish it. In reality you got to take care of yourself too or you are no good to anyone.
As Will says, in the general scheme of things we are all only here on this earth for a short spell and then we pass on as all of our ancestors have. While we are here we need to get a few laughs in life. Many of those laughs should be focused back on ourselves. It is healthy to often laugh at ourselves. It keeps us from being so self-centered and that is also a very important lesson to learn.
Doing the best you can is all anyone could ask of you. In order to do our best we must do the work to make that happen. I know it might be easier to just veg out in front of the TV or computer screen but if we really want to do our best we must work at it. That means learning about history so we don’t make the same mistakes our parents and grand parents did. That means we got to do the work necessary to be a productive member of society. Getting a proper education is critical to that. If only all of us did the best we can, can you even imagine how much greater this world would be?
I take Will’s last words here to mean live a life of simplicity. You might have a different take on them but that is what they say to me right now. He tells me not to get hung up on the material things in life. They just aren’t that important. As a matter of fact losing many of our most valued treasures might actually be a good thing in the overall scheme of a fulfilling life. Keep your life simple and you will be happy. Don’t worry about the stuff you don’t have or the stuff your neighbor has, or the stuff you might lose. That as Will says is just applesauce.
Thanks Will for helping me to keep my life on an even keel and to know what is really important.