Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Start The Revolution Without Me"

The interesting and informative book-on-tape I am currently reading, 1775, by Kevin Phillips, explains, in the most informative specifics, how the American Revolution came to be.  To me, a pessimist and a Canadian, it is unfathomable that a ragtag country of amateurs would ever think of taking on the most formidable military power on earth. 

In this context, I put on my “Imagining Cap”, and concocted this (as it turns out non-) “Recruitment Scenario.”  (With my attitude, it’s the only I can concoct.)   

The Place:  A small New England shop (Or maybe shoppe.  I am a little shaky on the period.)

The proprietor stands behind the counter.  A stranger enters.

STRANGER:  How’re ya doin’?

Too modern.

STRANGER:  How be ye, matey?

Too maritime.  

STRANGER:  Hello, dere.  

Too “Allen and Rossi.”  (An early-sixties comedy team who familiar catchphrase was "Hello, dere.")

STRANGER:  Good day to you, Friend.

Close enough.  Although “Friend” sounds a little “Quakerish.”  I could switch it to a Pennsylvania shop.  But let’s say we move on.

PROPRIETOR:  What can I do for you?

STRANGER:  I am in need of three sticks “sealing wax.”  I have written many documents of a personal nature and wish to insure them against tampering.

P:  The precise purpose of “sealing wax.”

S:  I know.  But thank you for confirming that for me.

P:  There you go, sir.  Call it tuppence ha’penny.

S:  A fair price for “sealing wax.” 

P:  We think we’re competitive, sir.  Though the shop speciality is “wicks and candles.”

S:  Not meaning to endanger your livelihood, but I have recently been severely restricting my wick and candle usage, my ready cash being increasingly depleted due to the exorbitant taxes levied by the Stamp Act of 1765.

(A little “pipey” {expositional}, but necessary.)

“Exorbitant”, you say.

“Exorbitant” I say, and “exorbitant” I energetically affirm.  May we speak freely, sir?

I have a parrot in the shop, but he doesn’t talk.  That’s why he’s still in the shop.

(IN A CONSPIRATORIAL TONE)  There are people in these parts who find in such iniquitous assizes a persuasive compulsion for a call to arms.

Against who?

Against whom?

Forgive me, sir.  I was home schooled.  Against “whom”?

Against England!

Come again?

Oh, come now, sir.  Do you not yourself harbor such grieveances against our so-called “Mother Country?”

I am a loyal subject of the King. 

Understood – “wink, wink.”  But “theoretically”, let us say, would you, in a generic and suppositionally sense be afraid to go to war against England?

Theoretically, suppositionally, and in every other manner – Yes!


Because they’re England!


We’ll lose!

Are you afraid to fight then, sir?

I’ve fought Indians.

(PATRONIZING)  Ah, yes - guns against arrows.

All right, let us clarify this here and now, lest you be an historian and this egregious misconception becomes chronicled for posterity.  Did you know that, in the time it takes to load and fire once from a flintlock, the average Indian can string and let fly as many as half a dozen arrows? 

Are you claiming you were outgunned by Indians without guns?

We were out-somethinged, that’s for certain.  And those tribespeople whose land we were taking were no gentlemen.  They did not wait till we reloaded.  We’re wadding and tamping down, and they’re just firing away!

I see.  So you make the distinction between fighting Indians and fighting our English oppressors. 

They’re not so bad. 

The Stamp Act.  The Tea Act.  Duties on whisky and molasses.  We colonists must stand up for our rights.  “No Taxation Without Representation!”

To be honest, I never really got that one.  Do we really believe all our difficulties will be solved with American representation in the British parliament?  Hundreds of "limey" legislators, and thirteen “Yahoos” from the States? 

What we really mean is, “No taxation without our consent.” 

I know, but it’s always “No taxation Without Representation.”  Just because it rhymes. 

It is catchier, I grant you that. 

Who wants to get killed for a catchy slogan?

Plus some sprightly marching music…?


But sir, just imagine if won.

It’s ENGLAND!!!  Use your head, won’t you?  We are outnumbered.  We are outgunned.  They defeat big countries, like France.  And if that weren’t enough, if it’s arguable that the most formidable fighters in the world are not the British, then the arguably more formidable fighters in the world are the Hessians.  Guess who the British are hiring for their mercenaries? 

The Hessians and the English against us?  That’s two bears attacking a chipmunk. 

Granting your arguments, we do have certain attributes of our own.

Like what?

We are extremely good shots.

That’s it?

No.  We also know the terrain.  And we are of a demonstrably heartier stock, our forefathers having risked everything to emigrate while theirs remained home and drank tea. 

We drink tea.  

But we drink it here.  More importantly – and it cannot be over-emphasized – we Americans have right on our side.

Do you know what “martyrs” are? – people who are massacred with right on their side.  Forgive me, sir, but I would rather be a live purveyor of wicks and candles than a righteous but entirely dead patriot.

An entirely dead American patriot.

That doesn’t really change anything.

So be it, then.  I thank you the “sealing wax” and the chat, and I shall now be on my way.

A pleasure to serve you, sir.  (HALF TO HIMSELF)  Despite the silly talk.


And so, lacking popular support, a war is averted, and the American colonies do not attain their independence.

No, wait!  They did! 

Sorry.  I’ve gotta do more research.

It’s just that, the logic of the situation predicts a conclusion opposite to what actually occurred. 

How exactly did that happen? 

Which brings us back, not entirely unexpectedly, to “evidence” versus “belief.”

Not that, again.

I’m sorry, but yes.

I have always wanted to write about this, but my heart has never sufficiently been in it.  It would appear, that for some people, in some cases, belief, if it’s powerful enough, not only vanquishes evidence, it tramples everything in its path.

These inexplicable outcomes consistently baffle me.  When a conscientious exploration determines than a course of action can definitely not be accomplished, I simply do not see how it is possible…

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant
Move a rubber tree plant

But he’s got
High hopes
He’s got
High hopes
He’s got high apple pie, in the sky hopes.
So anytime you’re getting’ low
‘Stead of lettin’ go
Just remember that ant
Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant.

I know the song. 

It just doesn’t make sense.

1 comment:

ben-arnold ziffle said...

I imagine the motivation came much quicker: "More hootch?"