In “It Can’t Happen Here,” Sinclair Lewis said, “Every man is a king who has someone to look down upon.” Sadly, ALL of us have been in that position on occasion; but SOME folks tend to live there. Today, as I was reading in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “An inland Voyage,” I came across a perfect example. Stevenson was a Scot, but reading his words, you’d sometimes think that he claimed to be pure English. For instance, consider the following:
“Independent America is still the cross of my existence; I cannot think of Farmer George without abhorrence; and I never feel more warmly toward my own land than when I see the stars and stripes, and remember what our empire might have been.” Only a couple pages further on, he uses the term “dastardly Yankee.”
Now, at the time, Stevenson was a wise old agnostic of 28 years. Had he actually known anything about George Washington, he would have realized that he would do nothing in his entire lifetime that would come even close to making him the man of Christianity, courage and honor possessed by Washington. But, ignorance is bliss, as they say, so Stevenson happy spoke disrespectfully of one of the noblest men of the eighteenth century. After all, Washington was just a dastardly Yankee. Of course those dastardly Yankees had already kicked Britain’s backside twice* before Stevenson was born, and would SAVE Britain’s backside twice within a half century of his death. Perhaps he never even knew that the colonies didn’t WANT war with Britain, but simply grew tired of being abused as English citizens.
Another interesting reference was the one to “empire.” I’ve always said that the purpose of an empire is to conquer every nation possible so that the conquering nation may rob the others blind. (An example is India, the richest nation on earth before the Brits conquered it, but the absolute poorest after they stole everything of value and left.) Furthermore, the way to become such a power is to be the most evil, cruel, greedy and dishonorable nation in current existence. If you look at every empire since the beginning of time, you’ll find that to be true, with maybe some slight allowance made for the Greeks and the French. Naturally, the greater the empire, the more evil it is. Not coincidentally, the British Empire was the largest in history, yet Stevenson apparently thought it was wonderful and that, indeed, it should have been even greater, except for those dastardly Yankees! – I have to laugh here, because it was only because he considered it HIS empire that made it wonderful. Had it belonged to some other nation, I’m sure it would have been a most immoral state of affairs in his young mind.
Sadly there are still some Brits that have such attitudes; I run across one on line occasionally. Thankfully, though, many Brits seem to be pretty good folks, as do many folks in the States. I don’t include in that the political left of either nation, just for the record, and both of our countries are deteriorating in matters of morals and common sense. However, one thing I’ve learned by this point in my life is that normal, moral people are pretty much the same the world over. © 2017
*I believe that to be due solely to the grace of God, who apparently desired our nation to come into existence. Nothing else would explain some of the strange turns and twists of “fate” that allowed our victories.