A word in your ear

WE columnists delight in the opportunity to express an opinion and hope those reading our columns will agree; be inspired or enlightened; or talked about.

We in turn are inspired by others and what a rich vein is to be mined. Finding them useful when making a point, I collect them as women save pieces of jewellery for special occasions. Allow me to share a few of mine, which may give you food for thought too.

Ernest Hemingway, war correspondent during Spain’s civil war, had a message for today’s politicians: ‘No one man nor group of men incapable of fighting, or exempt from fighting, should in any way be given the power, no matter how gradually it is given them, to put this country or any country into war.’

In agreement, George Orwell: ‘One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war propaganda, all the screaming, the lies and the hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.’

One of the oddities of life is that men throughout the centuries and regardless of nationality made points difficult to argue with.

A favourite is that of Woody Guthrie’s: ‘As through the world I have wandered I have seen lots of funny men. Some rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.’

For those lacking get up and go, a little advice from one of the world’s great storytellers, Mark Twain: ‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour.’

Like you, I am an ‘old’ sentimentalist and appreciate lines like: ‘Those we love don’t go away; they walk beside us every day.’  Anyone who has ever lost someone dear to them may seek comfort from the thoughts of Alphonse de Lamartine (1790 – 1869): ‘Sometimes, only one person is missing and the whole world seems depopulated.’ 

Another of some comfort: ‘Death is the starlit strip between the companionship of yesterday and the reunion of tomorrow.’

Books could be written on dodgy tradesmen. Henry Ford said it in a line: ‘If you think a professional is expensive wait till you try an amateur.’

Across the centuries we hold contempt for those who represent us. ‘People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election,’ so surmised Otto von Bismarck. Another thought provoking comment from England’s Alexander Pope (1688- 1744): ‘A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.’

Don’t be too quick to condemn the disapproving Victorian Age. It is interesting that many quotations, from very eminent people, like Abraham Lincoln, could not be published today as they are considered politically incorrect.

In a free thinking future it will be considered remarkable that at the turn of the 21st Century, great writers, statesmen, poets and thinkers; men and women of literature, could not have their thoughts printed in today’s newspapers. These I keep to myself as there are not enough smelling salts to go around. As Mark Twain observed: ‘Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to.’

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