Charles Beard tells us that “the world is largely ruled by ideas, true and false.”
What did he mean by this? Unfortunately we can’t ask him. He died nearly 60 years ago, in 1948. He may have said somewhere to someone what he meant by that, and I may still find the answer by googling his words on the Internet, but haven’t yet done so.
At the time of this historian’s conclusion that the world was ruled by ideas I was alive and in high school, and if there were ideas there about me I wasn’t aware of them. I was going out on my very first date, at the time, with an upperclassman and learning to neck. I was also playing football and learning to block and tackle, and my world didn’t go much beyond that sort of thing. In the neighborhood where we lived I would walk to school, and out of school play hard with my friends, until I was older and played football and lacrosse on the school playing fields. In the evenings I was back home trying to stay awake doing homework. What “ruled” my world then? My parents, certainly, my friends, and playing ball, but not my ideas about anything. Did I even have any at the time?
I must have known at the time that we had the bomb. Googling it I see that on August 6, 1945, an American B-29 dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. “The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure.”
Four years later in August of 1949 Russia, then the USSR, exploded its own very first nuclear device. I’ve lived my life, now dansmesquatrevingtans, almost an entire lifetime, waiting as they say for the other shoe to drop. In this case the second shoe when it does drop might be enough to do us all in.
Might Charles Beard have lived a few more years, and experienced the atomic age, would he have said that the world is ruled by ideas? Or by force of arms? But whatever it was Hiroshima was not an idea. It was real of course, a real nightmare.
Hiroshima has happened to hundreds of thousands of real people, much like us. So would Beard then have said that the world is ruled by the people with the most destructive weapons?
In any case the Pax Americana, that followed, the American century (not yet over), was based upon our having the bomb. BTW, that may be why so many countries have tried, some successfully, most not, to have the bomb. That’s what’s today probably driving the Ayatollahs in Iran. In that regard there are those who say, give them the bomb. There are others who say send it to them in a B-29 bomber, send it to the whole Middle East.
But there is something immediately compelling about Beard’s statement, that which probably originally attracted me, and pushed me to immediately post it on my blogsite. And although I haven’t yet persuaded myself or anyone else that ideas do rule the world, it’s a work in progress. I’ll need to persuade you the reader that ideas do and can rule the world. I didn’t know this as a child. Do I know it now as a man?
An interesting question, what ideas may be ruling our world. Our new president doesn’t seem to have any ideas at all, or any you’d want to sign on to. “Make America Great Again”???
Today I listened to Donald Trump’s first press conference. Trump seemed no longer the nonsense spouting idiot he was during the campaign. Nonsense spouting still, but much less, and not at all an idiot. Being elected president will change even the Donald for the better.
But our new guy in Washington continues to bother me. And although I still don’t like him he is not without qualities (that which I couldn’t say of his predecessor, George Bush). He’s still telling untruths, still in a world of untruth, much of his own making.
If he bothers me less today he still doesn’t make me feel good about myself, or the country. If he bothers me less it’s probably because he’s so close to being the country’s president. That alone is enough to make even Donald Trump interesting. Just nine days from now this guy, still very much a pompous ass, still seeming to believe his own nonsense about the great things he and his appointees are going to do for the country, will be sitting in the Oval Office.
Why I still don’t like him is probably and most of all because he seems unable to laugh at himself. Even as an elected president one ought not to take oneself too seriously. I know he can’t take a joke although I haven’t actually experienced this because his wife and children and more and more the coteries of courtiers always surrounding him probably never risk a joke in his presence.
Does our new president even have a sense of humor, that which in my own personal opinion, even more than the faculty of reason, makes a man a man? I don’t know, but my very preliminary assessment is that he doesn’t. Does that mean that he’s not really a man?…