I’m not generally one for poetry, it tends to read funny and takes a long time to get to the point (much like this blog). The language is also so flowery that I tend to get hay fever from reading it. So it’s strange that one of my favourite pieces of wisdom should come from a such piece of prose.
It sums up the way the world works; there are workers and there are bosses and the jobs of the workers are to follow the bosses orders and not to question them. Then when something goes wrong you can be sure that it’s the bosses who will escape while the poor unfortunate souls at the bottom are the ones to pay the price:
Not tho'(though) the soldiers knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
These lines are from ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’, a poem by Alfred Tennyson depicting the carnage of the eponymous cavalry division during the Crimean War caused by a blunder from the higher-ups.
During the Battle of Balaclava the British forces tried to capture the high ground from the Russians, but when asked where to attack those in charge just waved their arms in a general direction and said “there”. Not wanting to question the orders of a person who was in charge merely because of their social status the middle managers sent 600 of their men up a valley to attack the enemy.
Except they went up the wrong one.
Rather than taking a lightly defended valley they trotted up the one with cannons pointing at them, and only realised it was too late at the last-minute. So in scenes played throughout history, the man on the front line was cut down while General Melchett sat in his office barumphing and planning his next strategic sacrifice to gain a piece of land for the glory of a small group of people.
Yet is this not the way of the world, this is why we have the 1% or continued to be ruled by a hereditary peerage. Sure we are allowed to complain and protest, or at least we were. Now we are as aggressive with those who wish to protest the destruction of our liberties as those who just plain wish to destroy them.
“Do as you are told” is the way of life, with law and legislation constantly being created to tell us what we can’t do. Whether it is smoke, eat fatty food or even exercise our own democratic rights to vote or protest.
Why are we so angry? Just because a few people at the top broke the banking system? Well none of the CEOs were going to admit they blunder’d, it was those pesky soldiers in the press or some disgruntled cavalryman at the bank who err’d in telling. So while the financial generals feel hard done by being asked awkward questions while in their Armani suits it was the public who were left to do and die at the destructive force of their decisions.
So what can we do about it? We cannot reason why, dissent is treated pretty severely by most of the democracies of the people. Not in the way that those in the Arab Spring have been, but horse charges and beating those who wish to protest at the 1% are not exactly promoting freedom of expression. Do we really believe that if a large section of the population was to rise with force against the establishment then Washington, London or Paris wouldn’t respond with the full arsenal at their command?
It’s put up and shut up, nothing we can do will change it. If you are not a leader the you should accept being lead. We should just accept the status quo and do as we are told.
Just like those who chose to do and die did at Boston Harbour in 1773, or at the Bastille in 1789, or in Berlin and Prague in 1989, or in Tahrir Square in 2011.
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