Saturday, August 2, 2014


Kearney, NE – The famous essayist and writer of satire from Scotland, Thomas Carlyle, sat at a dinner party one day when someone, possibly annoyed, chastised him for talking constantly about books. “Ideas, Mr. Carlyle, ideas, nothing but ideas!” The Satirist in him came out at once. He replied “There once was a man called Rousseau who wrote a book containing nothing but ideas. The second edition was bound in the skins of those who laughed at the first.”
Ideas are powerful things. They make some men rich, and send others to their deaths. Some men put their ideas into books, which are lauded, and they are asked to speak everywhere, because of their ideas. Some men are ran out of town, shouted down and persecuted for even whispering their ideas. Some men, because of their ideas, no matter how good, even how perfect, have in the end been crucified.
Today, in a country halfway around the world from where I am now, two groups, the Israelis, and Hamas, clashed again. Almost fifteen-hundred people have died in the last twenty days from rockets, attacks, and shelling. And all because of a disagreement over ideas.
In the Gaza Strip there was an attempt at brokering a cease fire for seventy-two hours so the civilians that live on the strip could have some much needed relief. It worked well for about two hours, before falling apart. Now more people will die.
Disagreements over ideas are about as old as the world, when Satan disagreed with God who should sit on the throne. They fought a war over that. People are still fighting over their disagreements. In congress it is “should it be this fix to the immigration crises or that one.” In Hamas and Israel there are a dozen things to argue about, including “should the blockade be lifted?”
Often, one side does not know the others ideas. It is a tragedy, but true. Often in America, with all the media noise, the right and left still have no idea what is going on on the other side. I have never heard of a war won by an army that had no idea who they were fighting, and what their weapons were.
Those are there weapons. Those powerful ideas. And yet again and again people keep marching out not knowing what the other side has. And the bad guys usually are not even hiding it. So if you are going to go up against someone, know their ideas first. It can help you win. Don't just laugh at them, you might end up as book binding.

Andrew C. Abbott

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