West Baden, IN – “Cunning only helps once, for after that, you have a reputation for it, and no one trusts a cunning man.”
In the Greek stories of the Iliad and Odyssey, among the many characters are several, almost professional liars. One of them lies so often that by the end of the stories, he cannot get anyone to listen to him when he says just about anything, no matter how probable that is true. Simply the fact that he said, by the time he is done, causes people to stop listening.
It is, by the way, one of these tricksters who thinks up the idea for the Trojan horse, and another one convinces the Trojans to pull it inside their city. In the future history of mankind, it is not likely that anyone with any sense of history would pull a fifty foot tall horse into their city without checking inside. The trick has already been used once. If the Greeks had another city to invade, it would have been beyond difficult, even had they not lost seemingly almost their entire army.
Many films and novels about politics are full of sudden, brash statements by politicians, who have had enough, and are ready to finally fight, burning all bridges, and finally telling the truth.
In the early 2,000s, during the Bush presidency, prime minister of England Tony Blair was attacked for his close relationship with America, and asked why he did not just tell the president off.
In the film that came out around that time, Love Actually, there is a scene in which the prime minister of England does just that. “We are a small country, but also a great one. We are the country of Shakespeare…It has been said that bullies only respond to strength. In the future, the president can expect me to be much stronger.” In English theatres, the scene was greeted with cheers and applause. And Blair was asked by the media why he did not do that, “why not stop being an American colony?” He refused to.
Tony Blair understood something about history. It goes on. We cannot burn our bridges, or we may find ourselves on an island with the tide rising and nowhere to go. It makes a great story line, but not good strategy. In films there is an ending. In politics there is a tomorrow.
Andrew C. Abbott