What Goes Around…

Like Calls to Like

by Edgar Guest

If you walk as a friend you will find a friend
wherever you choose to fare,
if you go with mirth to a far, strange land
you will find that mirth is there.
For the strangest part of this queer old world
is that like will join with like,
and who walks with love for his fellow men
an answering love will strike.

Here each of us builds his little world,
and chooses its people, too;
though millions trample the face of earth,
each life touches but the few.
And the joy you’ll find as you venture forth
your fortune or fame to make,
lies not in some stranger’s power to say,
for it’s all in the joy you take.

If you walk in honor then honest men
will meet you along the way,
but if you be false you will find men false,
wherever you chance to stray.
For good breeds good and the bad breeds bad;
we are met by the traits we show.
Love will find a friend at the stranger’s door
where hate would find a foe.

For each of us builds the world he knows,
which only himself can spoil,
and an hour of hate or an hour of shame
can ruin a life of toil.
And though to the farthermost ends of earth
your duty may bid you fare
if you walk with truth in your heart as a friend,
you will find friends waiting there.

From The Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest
© 1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co

Gettin’ Old

by Edgar Guest

Gettin old’s not hard, I say,
if it’s done the proper way;
when you’re finding’ out how much
joy is in the common touch,
learnin’ from experience
and the book of common sense
that a man, whoe’er he be,
richly dressed or poor to see,
really’s tryin’ hard to do
just about the same as you;
when you’ve found the worth of gold,
then you’re glad you’re gettin’ old.

When you’ve come along the years
with their smiles and bitter tears,
and have seen through clearer eyes
many things you used to prize
lose their value, and you know
much you didn’t long ago;
when you’ve learned that creed and birth
are not real stamps of worth,
and you’ve scraped through the veneer
of the sham and pomp down here
to tell the truth you want to hold,
then you’re glad you’re gettin’ old.

When you’ve come at last to find
joy is born of bein’ kind;
when you’re learned to disbelieve
tales which make another grieve
and to them you shut your ear;
when you are not quick to sneer
and have turned from selfish strife
to the gentler ways of life,
in your wisdom finding out
things you never dreamed about
in your youthful way days and bold —
then you’re glad you’re getting old.

Gettin’ old’s not hard, I say,
if it’s done the proper way,
youth is made with haste and blind
to the peace which old men find,
but when you have traveled far,
come to know men as they are,
when you’ve learned through hurts and aches
all the errors hot youth makes
and have found the lasting worth
of the simpler joys of earth;
when life’s purposes unfold,
then you’re glad you’re gettin’ old.

There’s a Time to Retire

This anecdote was posted on my first blog on June 14, 2012:

Lotte Lehmann became a famous opera singer just before WWI and performed a total of 93 roles in her career.  She retired from the opera in 1951 and became a music teacher for over twenty years.

One day she was visiting with an up-and-coming young soprano who remarked sympathetically that “It must be terrible for a great singer like you to realize you’ve lost your voice.”

“Not at all,” the older lady replied. “It would be terrible indeed if I didn’t realize it.”

To everything there is a season… including a time to quit – before you become an affliction rather than a delight to your audience.

That Squealing Second Pig

Ideology Meets Reality

I was reading an interesting anecdote yesterday which reminded me a lot of a story my mother-in-law would tell. The central character in yesterday’s tale was a Frenchman and tells how he gave up on Communism. When he discovered that, if/when Communism came into effect in France, he was going to lose half the francs he had saved, he dropped out of the Party.

Coins equal.Kevin schneider
Image: Kevin Schneider at Pixabay

The tale Mom told must have been adapted to the Canadian prairies. Apparently back in the 1920s and 30s, the goals of Communism sounded quite noble and had a fair bit of appeal to some average working people. Mom said it was quite common to hear people going on about how communism could make the world — or at least some people’s lot in life so much better.

As mom told it, two farmers were visiting and the one — I’ll call him Percy — was going on enthusiastically about how things would change for the better once the Communists took over in this country. Which they surely would, he assured his neighbour. I’ll call him Bert.

“There’ll be no more poverty, no more crime,” Percy was saying. “Everyone will work for the good of all. Everything will be shared equally. All those farmers with big herds and lots of land will have to share with the guy who has none.”

“So what you’re saying is that, if you had ten sheep you’d give me five,” Bert asked.

“That’s right.”

“And if you had four cows, you’d give me two?”

“Sure thing. That’s exactly how Communism will work. Everyone will have the same,” Percy assured him.

“And if you had two pigs, you’d give me one.”

“Yes, of course I… Now hold on here, Bert! You know I have two pigs!”

According to Mom, this was where Communism as a theory ran smack into the reality of human nature. People who have nothing are quite ready to receive, but as soon as they have to give up something themselves — like their second pig — the whole scheme breaks down.

In more recent years I read the account of a girl in the eastern States whose parents, along with many others during the 1930s, were so enthused about this ideology that they sent their children to a summer camp where socialism was taught and practiced as a model for future society. (Or where children would be indoctrinated, if you want to be a skeptic.)

The children at this camp would receive packages from their parents at home, and the rule of the camp was: “Whatever you get, you share with the others in your cabin.” One day she received a package from home and opened it. Her eyes lit up. Among other things her mother had sent along the girl’s favorite candy bar.

She reached for it eagerly, then thought about the sharing rule. She imagined her bar split six ways; it would give each of the cabin mates — herself included — a very small piece. Yes, she was supposed to share. But it was her bar; her mother sent it for her. Furtively she slipped it into her sweater pocket and hurried outside behind the cabin. Renouncing socialism, she ate the whole bar herself — and enjoyed every last bite.

Almost all of us seem to recognize that some government-enforced “public sharing” (like income tax) is necessary to keep things running efficiently. Communes may work for a time because membership is — at least initially — a voluntary thing. But Communism, that great theory of universal brotherhood and sharing, has proven unsuitable to human nature. And human nature has been a fairly constant thing through the years. 🙂