Monday, November 3, 2014

Words of Steel and Soul

When [Churchill] walks into the House, it is as if History itself materializes before our eyes, and is holding us accountable.
-- From Leo Rosten’s essay, “Winston”

Obama fatigue is setting in. Indeed, I’ve gone from Obama fatigue through full-on Obama Epstein-Barr to end-stage Obama narcolepsy.
–Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg’s description of how he is experiencing the speeches of President Obama can just as easily be said of the majority of our political leaders on both sides of the aisle. [WARNING: Long Sentence] Here we are facing terrorists, the return of a cold war with Russia, economic disaster, disappearing borders, Ebola, and the continual disintegration of our Constitutional freedoms, and our leaders seem to think it best to put us to sleep with words that say everything and nothing so we won’t notice our houses are being ransacked.  Whereas Winston Churchill “armed the English language and sent it into battle,” present day politicians bastardize the English language, so we won’t notice the nature of the great battles before us.

In times of great peril we need leaders whose words instill vision, courage, and hope, not words that put us to sleep both physically and psychologically. We need bold, bare-naked words that leave no doubt as to exactly what is being said. We need words of steel that slap us across our collective face and challenges us to get a grip and stop whining about petty grievances that only distract us from our real enemies, both domestic and foreign, who are determined to destroy us and our nation,

Consider some of Winston’s* words:

“The deadly, drilled, docile, brutish masses of the Hun.” No political correctness, here!

“Hitler has liberated Austria from the horrors of self-government.”

“It is better to be frightened now than killed thereafter.”

Describing Parliament: “Good honest men who are ready to die for their opinions, if only they knew what their opinions are.” Sounds familiar.

On Prime Minister Baldwin’s government: “So they go on in a strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift…all powerful to be impotent.” Ouch.

When Parliament was jubilant over Chamberlain’s deal with Hitler:

“All is over. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, Czechoslovakia recedes into darkness….It is a fraud and a farce to invoke the name [self-determination].

We have sustained a defeat without a war….We have passed an awful milestone in our history…The whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged….Terrible words have been pronounced against the Western democracies: ‘Thou are weighed in the balance and found wanting.’”

“And do not suppose this is the end….This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year….”

Words matter. How we perceive the person speaking also matters. Once we lose respect, once we doubt the integrity of the speaker, even the most erudite sound to us as so much white noise. Leo Rosten makes this point when he writes, “It was Churchill’s very refusal to be ‘expedient’ or utopian that made him the one man whom England, on the brink of disaster, had to turn.” Winston’s words had the ring of trustworthiness.

The London Times made the same point: “In the hour when all but courage failed, [he] made courage conscience of itself, plumed it with defiance, and rendered it invincible.” Winston’s words could not produce something in others that was not already within the man himself. His soul fueled his words.

Words matter

The quality of the person’s soul matters

Awareness of where the lines of the most critical battles are forming matters

Clarity of vision matters

And congruency of words, soul, awareness, and vision matters most of all, when it comes to choosing leaders.

* All quotes taken from Leo Rosten, “People I Have Loved, Known, Or Admired,” McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1970

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2014

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