CIVIC BRIEFING
Franklin Day

Oct. 20 - I'm not getting sucked into the Red Sox. I'm not getting sucked into the Red Sox. I'm not getting sucked into the Red Sox... But... if they do win Game 7 against the Yankees, my not having been sucked in will probably have been partly responsible for the victory. That's why I'm not getting sucked into the Red Sox, I'm not getting sucked into the Red Sox...

I think I'm like most Americans in that I wish all Americans thought like me. I'm a reasonable person, fairly well-informed, open to other points of view, and equally willing to be persuaded by superior powers of argumentation or bright shiny graphics.

I believe the source of the much-lamented "divide" in America is the inevitable result of not enough Americans thinking like me. Too many of them are thinking like themselves, wishing I thought like them.

If these people knew what I knew, had seen what I've seen, had read what I've read, and experienced what I've experienced, then I can't help but think they'd agree with me on most matters of importance—matters on which I believe my opinions are correct (which is why, after all, they're my opinions).

These are my thoughts, and I'm confident they're also the thoughts of most other Americans—even the stupidest and most obnoxious.

* * *

I think we ought to declare a holiday a couple of weeks before every major election. It would be called "Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography Day." Every American would be urged to read the autobiography of that wonderful man. Celebrities would read it on television as a public service. Newspapers would publish it in its entirety. Civic-minded bloggers would post their favorite excerpts.

I don't have the authority to declare a national holiday, and I don't like telling people what they ought to read. I'm not a celebrity, I don't appear on television, and I've got no editorial clout at any periodical.

But I can be a civic-minded blogger. Words of wisdom from one of my favorite Americans:

These disputing, contradicting, and confuting people [. . .] get victory sometimes, but they never get good will, which would be of more use to them.

* * *

When another asserted something that I thought an error, I deny'd myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing immediately some absurdity in his proposition; and in answering him I began by observing that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but in the present case there appear'd or seem'd to me some difference, etc. I soon found the advantage of this change in my manner; the conversations I engag'd in went on more pleasantly. . . And this mode, which I at first put on with some violence to natural inclination, became at length so easy, and so habitual to me, that perhaps for these fifty years past no one has ever heard a dogmatical expression escape me.

* * *

Men should be taught as if you taught them not,
And things unknown propos'd as things forgot.
[Attributed to Pope without a specific citation.]

* * *

. . .if you would inform, a positive and dogmatical manner in advancing your sentiments may provoke contradiction and prevent a candid attention. If you wish information and improvement from the knowledge of others, and yet at the same time express yourself as firmly fix'd in your present opinions, modest, sensible men, who do not love disputation, will probably leave you undisturbed in possession of your error.

Sic transit gloria Franklin.

No, it's not his birthday or anything. These are just words of his I often turn to when I'm apoplectic with rage, and I thought I'd make them available to others who may be similarly affected by the current political atmosphere.

* * *

Mr. Franklin's words are the only thing standing between the gentle tribute you just read and a venomous, hellfire blog of rage that would have burned the corneas right out of your eyes.

* * *

Today is the birthday of Snoop Doggy Dogg (1972), Tom Petty (1953), Mickey Mantle (1931), Art Buchwald (1925), Bela Lugosi (1882), and Arthur Rimbaud (1854).

It's Revolution Day in Guatemala and Jomo Kenyatta's Birthday in Kenya.

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

[close window]
[Daily Briefing Archive]