Poem: My Creed

The poem My Creed by Edgar A. Guest is one I just ran across.  I can say with all honesty that I would love to adopt this poem as a simplified measuring rod for myself.  I think this poem can be both convicting and inspiring to any person who is trying to live an upright life.  I can’t say that this is all I need for a creed or philosophy, but it is certainly a good start.  There is a lot here.

My Creed

                        -Edgar A. Guest

To live as gently as I can;

To be, no matter where, a man;

To take what comes of good or ill

And cling to faith and honor still;

To do my best, and let that stand

The record of my brain and hand;

And then, should failure come to me,

Still work and hope for victory.

To have no secret place wherein

I stoop unseen to shame and sin;

To be the same when I’m alone

As when my every deed is known;

To live undaunted, unafraid

Of any step that I have made;

To be without pretense or sham;

Exactly what men think I am.

To leave some simple mark behind

To keep my having lived in mind;

If enmity to aught I show,

To be an honest, generous foe,

To play my little part, nor whine

That greater honors are not mine.

This, I believe is all I need

For my philosophy and creed.

~Wyatt Fairlead

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American Caribou, the Gun Control Debate

The debate over gun control is a topic that is extremely important to me.  I have strong opinions and about this subject, and if I am not careful, I can tend to overlook the fact that to so many, great suffering and emotional trauma is attached to such a debate.  After the recent failure of the gun control laws to pass in the U.S. Senate, many of the Newtown tragedy parents have vowed to continue to fight for more strict regulations.  This is a serious subject.

I believe that stories are a powerful medium. They make a point while distancing the point from the subject.  The concept is then grasped and hopefully applied by the individual instead of being forced upon the individual.  For this reason, I am presenting to you one of Wyatt’s Fables.

The Wolf and the CaribouCaribou Bull

One day a wolf was wandering the plain in search of prey.  He was hungry, but didn’t really need food because he had eaten only yesterday.  Suddenly he spotted a caribou calf on the edge of a small glade.  “This defenseless gangly creature will make for a fine chase and good sport.” he thought as he stealthily approached.  Just as he was about to spring and begin the chase, there loomed out of the woods the mother caribou and a large bull with her.  The bull was strong with towering antlers, and the mother had long, powerful front legs with sharp hooves.  The wolf immediately began to flee.  No chase was worth the risk of those antlers and hooves.

Moral:  Predators avoid danger while the defenseless are vulnerable.

 This fable specifically is not the story that people need to hear, especially those who have suffered at the hands of violent crime.  The difficulty comes from the perspectives involved.  To those who have suffered, they see the weapon as the problem.  What could that man have done if he didn’t have a gun?  The realistic answer is that he could not have done what he did.  The missing link in this perspective is that regulations only matter to law abiding citizens and the man who did the murdering is in no way law abiding.  I am not arguing the Newtown tragedy specifically,(for example was that specific gun legal etc.) I am just stating that those hindered by regulations are not criminals.

I live in central Virginia and remember clearly the day that the Virginia Tech shooting occurred.  One of my school teachers had a daughter attending there at the time.  I was thinking once again about that terrible tragedy with its anniversary so recently past.  I asked myself, “What would have happened if the professor or any of the students in the several classrooms he entered had been armed?  Certainly several students would still have been killed, but would he have been able to make the parents of all 33 mourn?

My fable is completely inspired by this video.  I believe this man to be saying something that the U.S. government needs to hear, even if individuals need to be treated more gently.  As the governing body of the nation, the significance of the decisions they are making must be forced upon them.  I am not denigrating the feelings or motives of those who hold a position opposite to my own.  I simply feel that something is missing form their understanding.  Perhaps someone will be able to bring clarity and decisiveness to the debate over such a serious issue.

-Wyatt Fairlead

The Boston Bombings, Why We Appreciate Virtue

I am sitting in Dulles International Airport waiting for my mother and sister to arrive home from Romania.  They have been gone for two weeks.  Since they left, a lot has happened.  There have been explosions, terror attacks, and more.  The world is a dangerous place.

My heart goes out to the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings.  It isn’t fair that so many should suffer for the wrongs of so few.  It is the dangerous world we live in.  And why is the world dangerous?  Why are there evil people, who would do such atrocious acts of violence?

Human nature has a natural propensity for evil.  That is what makes the positive virtues so valuable.  I was thinking the other day about courage.  I don’t know why I was contemplating it, but this thought occurred to me.  “Without fear, what is courage?”  It is the positive things that we appreciate, but why are they so precious?  Because there is an opposite.  There is evil.  And the choice makes the value.  If you have no choice, your decision has no value.  If you have a choice, your decision reflects on what you have decided, and it also reflects on you.

Think of this.  It is easier for the human to be cowardly.  Fear is the natural response.  The problem is that cowardice never saved anyone.  It takes courage to save.  To protect.  I think of the police in Boston, going from door to door.  Behind any one of those doors they walk up to could be waiting a dangerous man desperate to do anything to save himself.  It takes courage to go to that door.  Fear says stay away.  But the choice makes courage valuable.  We all know the high path, but invariably, our body wants the low one.  Our mind must fight the battle between these paths.

I do not know the reasons behind the attacks at Boston.  Perhaps no ones but the perpetrators do.  Perhaps they will be the only one who ever know.  But in the end, they fought a battle in their mind.  A battle between good and evil.  Their being was telling them to do the evil they committed.  Undoubtedly for a time, their mind resisted, for obvious reasons.  They chose evil.  The world suffers.  Without fear, what is courage?  Without suffering, what is joy?  Without strife and bondage, what is a savior?

~Wyatt Fairlead

Hard Knocks

Well, I thought I would post this poem by Edgar A. Guest, partly because it is really good, partly because I haven’t posted one in a while, but truth be told, mostly because I wanted to put something on, but I am not feeling very original at the moment.  So without further ado, here ‘tis.

 

Hard Knocks

            -Edgar A. Guest

I’m not the man to say that failure’s sweet,

Nor tell a chap to laugh when things go wrong;

I know it hurts to have to take defeat

An’ no one likes to loose before a throng;

It isn’t very pleasant not to win

When you have done the very best you could;

But if you’re down, get up and buckle in-

A lickin’ often does a fellow good.

I’ve seen some chaps who never knew their power

Until somebody knocked ‘em to the floor;

I’ve known men who discovered in an hour

A courage they had never shown before.

I’ve seen ‘em rise from failure to the top

By doin’ things they hadn’t understood

Before the day disaster made ‘em drop-

A lickin’ often does a fellow good.

Success is not the teacher, wise an’ true,

That gruff old failure is, remember that;

She’s much too apt to make a fool of you,

Which isn’t true of blows that knock you flat.

Hard knocks are painful things an’ hard to bear,

An’ most of us would dodge ‘em if we could;

There’s something mighty broadening in care-

A lickin’ often does a fellow good.

-Wyatt Fairlead

The Korean War (The First?)

Considering the modern events and the recent rise in tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, it is very interesting to have a general grasp of what the history is between our two nations.  This is a history of the Korean War, which occurred in the early 1950’s.  (For the record, I am not saying necessarily that I think that the modern tensions will escalate.  The post title was merely a nod to the current significance of this post.)

The Korean War

            The Korean War is one of the United States’ more recent wars and is unique in many ways.  Despite these facts, the Korean War is also one of the most forgotten wars in United States history.  The reason for this historical neglect is often attributed to what most Americans at the time, and even now in hindsight, considered the unsatisfactory ending of the war.  American perception of the war changed significantly over the course of the war, and this change in popularity still negatively affects our modern view of this important conflict.

The Korean War was unique and significant in many ways.  It was the first military conflict that was a result of the Cold War.  In many ways, this war was the precursor to the Vietnam War, and symbolized the way the Cold War would be handled for the years to come.  This war was also unique in that it was the first war in which the threat of atomic weapons was present throughout the entire course of hostilities.  Additionally, the Korean War saw the advent of the helicopter as a military asset, and the jet fighter slowly began to come into wide service.  Another difference that separates the Korean War from other wars, can be observed in that armored operations, as were executed and perfected in World War II, was not possible due to the mountainous terrain of the Korean Peninsula.  This was also the first limited war that America had fought since before the Civil War.  It was the first war conducted under the auspices of the United Nations, and the first war that the United States conducted under the authority of an outside organization.  Taking all these things into consideration, the war posed new challenges that American commanders were not accustomed to or prepared for.  These conditions are some of the factors that played into the way the war was conducted, and consequently affected the way that Americans perceived the war.  This perception of the war made it what it is today, a little known, and an even less appreciated conflict.

Korean War Helicopter

            The Korean War was a war of changing fortunes and extremes.  When the U.S. entered the fray in July 1950, it was intervening on behalf of the losing side.  More than this, by the time substantial American forces were available, South Korean forces and the American garrison troops previously deployed from Japan were pushed into a small pocket called the Pusan Perimeter, and were all but thrown into the sea in a matter of weeks.

However, a bold stroke was planned by General MacArthur, and the landing at Inchon Bay was conducted on September 15, 1950.  This amphibious attack changed the fortunes of the war completely in favor of the U.N. forces.  The North Korean Army was, in just as short a time as it had taken to force the South Koreans into the Pusan Perimeter, fleeing in great disorder back across the 38th parallel.  Great changes in fortune were already evident.  Large swings had taken place in each direction.  The pendulum was swinging north, and the U.N. forces were following, ignoring Chinese warnings, and consequently unaware that gravity was already slowing down that same pendulum.  That gravity came in the form of 300,000 Chinese Troops already in the central mountains of North Korea.  When the Chinese counterattacked, the unprepared, and over extended U.N. forces were sent packing right back across the 38th parallel, and farther, until Seoul, the South Korean capitol, was in the hands of the Communists for the second time in the war.  But the Chinese also over extended, and with the United States’ complete control over the skies, they could no longer sustain their forces in the South.  They to had to retreat northward, once again, and the war ground to a halt at the infamous 38th parallel.  Each side was left there as the pendulum had come to a stop, hanging in the middle of the peninsula.

korean war 38th Parallel

            During all this back and forth, all these changes in fortune, the American public was quite supportive of the war.  The seeds for the lack of support, however, were sown after the first northward pendulum swing when President Truman authorized the invasion of North Korea.  This move was in and of itself, not unpopular.  The problem it caused is that it broadened the scope of the war.  Before this change, the goal of the war was simply to push the North Korean Army out of South Korea and to prevent its return.  That goal had been accomplished.  The North Koreans were in no state to attempt another invasion.  However, once the invasion of the North and the unification of the country by elections was declared the goal, the old objective of maintaining the national boundaries was no longer adequate in the public eye.  This new goal was what success and failure must be measured against.

When the pendulum stopped swinging, Communist forces could not mount amphibious operations and therefore, could not get it going again.  The U.N. leaders were unwilling to try to restart it.  All they wanted was to end the war. They were willing to renounce the goal of unification and settle for the original goal by simply working out a treaty that would maintain the status quo.  Unfortunately, to the American public, this now looked like a compromise.  This was not viewed as a victory, which it would have been had the goal not been expanded to include unification.  The unwillingness of the U.N. leaders to pursue the goal of unification, after the involvement of the Chinese, and the long and seemingly fruitless negotiations ending in what appeared to the public as a compromise, and not victory, seriously undermined popular support for the war. The public view of the war as being unsuccessful is the most significant reason why the Korean War is often called the “Forgotten War”.  It was forgotten because it was not viewed as being won.

M20 75mm  korean war

            Another important longstanding effect the Korean War had was the precedent it set for future conflicts with Communism.  The Korean War was Communism’s second test against of the Truman Doctrine, and the first test requiring armed conflict.  Many considered this to be the first true test of how far the Americans were willing to go to uphold their doctrine of containment.  In this sense, this war set the precedent for American involvement worldwide in the fight against the spread of Communism. Due in great part to this action, America would become involved in many different conflicts, both directly and indirectly.  Vietnam is the most common example of this, and it is this precedent that keeps troops in South-East Asia even today.

In conclusion, the Korean War was a landmark conflict in many ways.  It saw the use of new weapons and technology, while still greatly resembling the Pacific conflicts of World War II.  It was the first test of American will in regards to the practical outworking of the Truman Doctrine.  It was the first war fought under the supervision and direction of the United Nations.  It truly was a conflict that changed history.  Despite all these things, it remains unfamiliar to most Americans.  The Korean War is just another example of the many important things that we forget.

-Wyatt Fairlead