Any tragic world event is an opportunity to convey meaning for profit — personally, politically, fiscally or morally — and the instant rise of the “Peace for Paris” logo designed by Jean Jullien “one minute” after the tragedy, and then immediately posting the image to Facebook and Twitter, begs a larger human question of “selfieness” and cynicism: Is an Artist trying to give hope against trafficking in evil, or is it all a rather cunning ploy to “make the meme” for a tragedy by propagating self-interest-as-a-logo over the perils of human interest?
On April 23, 1910, Teddy Roosevelt presented a spectacular speech at the Sorbonne in Paris, France.
The title of his argument was — “Citizenship in a Republic” — and here is the famous “Man in The Arena” excerpt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
The other day, I was watching television and I saw a commercial for a certain credit card company that showed a teacher shopping for their own school supplies. I was reminded how bad our education system currently is — bad enough that it supplies teachers with a certain budget for the year but when that budget is exhausted, as it often quickly is, they have to pony up if they want to give their students crayons or colored paper or project supplies — regardless of how important those supplies may be for their education. I couldn’t imagine a bank teller being told by their employer that they could only have a certain number of pens at their station, and that they would have to pay for any others if they needed them.
In France, the fight for the right to stay a completely secular state has just taken an interesting turn. I remember in 2004 when head coverings were banned in public schools thinking that I was glad that I was not a student in France as being a Jew as I am involves wearing a head covering. Covering your face is now prohibited in public places in France, and I’m not sure it’s necessarily a step in the right direction for France. In addition to banning the niqab, the full face veil that Muslim women wear, the ban also includes masks, hooded jackets as well as anything else that covers the face.
One of my fondest memories of history class in grade school was learning about how the British redcoats in their keen formations were thwarted by the colonists using techniques they learned from the Native Americans — hiding among the trees and taking cover while attacking the well formed British troops. Unfortunately, I recently found out that this story was somewhat fictional — rather, “…on occasion the Americans used cover, hiding behind trees and rock walls. The start of the war at Lexington and Concord is a prime example, and the New Jersey Militia, used it well also, both being examples of partisan warfare.”