There is one blog that I go to just about every day because the lady always has something I find interesting. I seldom comment, because this is one of the blogs that is usually way over my head. (And I'm not just saying that.) But I read, and I try to understand. I am talking about Stephanie and her Rocketscientist blog. What an interesting blogger she is. I know many of you are faithful followers as well.
Anyway, yesterday morning she had some pithy quotes from various famous people. She often does that and I always enjoy it. A post consisting of famous quotes is not that hard to comment on, so I did. There were several I liked, but the one that caught my attention the most was one by former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. I want to reproduce it here - I hope Stephanie doesn't mind - because it made me think of something else, which I now want to blog about.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." -Dwight David Eisenhower, 1953, a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
Now, Eisenhower was a great delegator and PR man, and he certainly knew how to kiss the proper ass at the proper time. This skill at diplomacy and finding ways to make many prima donnas work together stood him in good stead throughout his entire life. Make friends, use friends. At any rate, he was hardly deep enough to formulate the words in the attributed quote, and in 1953 would not have been writing his own speeches anyway, if he ever did. But the quote is still valid, and one assumes he wouldn't speak the words in a speech if he didn't agree with the words at least in part - and it is important that a general would be the one to speak the antiwar words.
There are two ways to take this quote, of course. First that war is bad and wasteful, and second that war money would have been better spent on society's pressing problems (or not taken from the workers in the first place.)
I personally believe the hungry should be fed. I believe the destitute should be clothed and housed. I have compassion for these people, even if it is their lifestyle of choice, even if they are out of work by choice, even if they made the choice not to educate themselves in a land of plenty.
I have a blog dedicated to the plight of the world's poor, and the injustices visited on them. I support Water Day, and Women's Day, and Earth Day, and Gay Rights Day and all the rest. I do. I care. I contribute to charities and I try to volunteer whenever I can. I am involved with my community. While I am not a person who is totally convinced there is such a thing as global warming created by mankind, I certainly believe climate change seems to be a cyclic part of Earth's history through the ages. I am not convinced puny man can change this. I AM convinced that if a man CAN change it, that man is not Al Gore. But that's a different subject.
My point is I still support the efforts of the people who DO believe in this phenomenon and who seek to remedy it. I don't have to personally believe in everything in order to believe my friends are good people and could use my support.
But... I also don't believe that we need to devote every possible spare penny we can dig up to the cause of helping the poor. There, I've said it.
It is true, as the quote attributed to Eisenhower says, that if we didn't buy war materiel we could give more money to the poor and hungry of the world, and we could invest in a lot of more worthwhile things than war. Underneath that quote is also the larger assumption that there are a lot of other things, besides war, that are wasteful in many people's eyes, and the money would be better spent on feeding the poor or paving roads, or fostering higher education. Or building more bowling alleys, I suppose: it depends on whose vision you are working on or whose ox you are goring.
It all depends on one's own value system as to what is wasteful and what is needful in this world, and what priority should be assigned to those things. And the more sure you are that your list of values is "obviously correct" and that others who disagree with you "just don't get it", the more it is likely you are probably wrong. That last is from another of Stephanie's posts. Have a good day.