Saturday, December 6, 2014

The World Needs More Tinkers and Tailors, Fewer Soldiers and Spies

Scooby Two met a tailor today. Or at least the life-size sculpture of a tailor. With real wire-rim glasses. We were at the Museum of Country Life in Turlough, not far from Castlebar, Ireland:

It was a gray, drizzly day, perfect for being indoors.

I've always found museums and history fascinating. I like to read the descriptions of the people depicted, the context of the times in which they lived, see the rather crude tools (at least by modern standards) they used to carve out their way of life. I'm always fascinated by the ingenuity with which they used the materials available in their surroundings for building homes, making clothing, feeding their families.

There was an especially interesting section on the uprisings that led to Irish independence from Great Britain in the early 20th century. The panels spoke of wealthy landowners accumulating all the land for themselves and suppressing the farmers, of the farmers forming organizations to fight for their rights and fairness, of the government trying to suppress the protesting people.

Sounded a lot like the United States and Great Britain today. In fact, when we entered, there was a TV with video of protests and police swinging billyclubs and throwing tear gas to quell the uprising. At first I thought it was live news of the protests in America over the killings of black men or boycotts of WalMart and fast-food joints for their paltry wages. But it was actually an historic Irish police-sponsored exhibit, and they seemed rather proud of the evolution of their suppression tools and tactics. We covered the entire permanent collection of the museum but opted to skip the temporary display which seemed to exult the police power.

Seems to me that my generation and the ones after in America and other western democracies have forgotten what it means to fight for freedom. We were born after WWII, when it looked like democratic societies might succumb to global dictatorship - indeed, some British leaders thought Hitler was a rather nice guy and hoped if they were nice to him he wouldn't invade them. The US tried to stay out of the war, but Pearl Harbor changed that (whether it was a Japanese idea or an FDR conspiracy, as some believe).

The American revolution - stimulated by government oppression - is only a section in the history books, and the brilliant Constitution crafted by the nation's founders is steadily eroded by the President, Congress, the NSA, the CIA, Wall Street, and others who manipulate the system for their own aggrandizement.

For the past 100+ years, America has been at near-constant war, whether boots on the ground or drones in the air. Have you ever asked whether it's as much about funding defense companies and less about spreading democracy? Now the "war" seems to be spilling into the "homeland" with militarized police states arming to squash any dissent, left or right, black or white or brown.

It's been often said that "those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Whether it's suppression of Irish farmers or American workers, the government response seems to be the same regardless of century -- ignore them, make life difficult for them, cheat them, and if they dare speak up against injustice, smash their heads in so they know who's in control!

One interesting tactic of the Irish rebellion against the UK was to "burn the big houses" of the wealthy Brit landowners - not to harm the individuals but to drive them out of Ireland. Wonder if that's why the elite in the US are building the police forces? Perhaps they fear the protests will eventually turn against the wealthy puppet-masters who are pulling the strings?

I think Scooby Two would agree that the world needs more tailors, more people creating things to benefit other people, and fewer SWAT squads to intimidate the populace. As the Irish showed, the persistent people will prevail, no matter what brutal tactics the government may try. That's a lesson of history Americans should recognize!

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