I have always liked to ponder folk wisdom, proverbs, and rules-of-thumb. I have several books containing collections and recently, as I was reading through Brockhampton’s Dictionary of Proverbs, I found myself assessing President Bush, his decisions, and his unconstitutional wars in respect to dozens of proverbs, especially those grouped under the topic, “Power and Conflict.” Again and again I found myself thinking, “If only Bush would read and adhere to wisdom such as this…”
I have come to the conclusion that Bush’s greatest flaw is his failure to understand and live by the most basic and enduring folk wisdom of the Ages. Bush not only fails to observe and abide by these insights and guideposts, he consistently thinks and acts in ways that are quite contrary to logic and intelligence. He also fails to consider the sensitivities and the preferences of the people he is supposed to represent and protect.
Then, lacking wisdom and common sense; void of a philosophy of life based upon ethics, honesty and humility; our president ‘flips the bird’ and swears at citizens from the safety of his muddied tower.
Consider these “Power and Conflict” proverbs and imagine how our lives would be so different under the leadership of one who understood then lived by such simple, but powerful, ideas:
- A certain peace is to be preferred to an expected victory.
- A good prince does not cut out freedom’s tongue.
- A tyrant’s breath is another’s death.
- A war, even when most victorious, is a national misfortune.
- An ill man in office is a mischief to the public.
- An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger.
- Argument seldom convinces anyone against their inclination.
- Better a lean peace than a fat victory.
- Black ambition stains a public cause.
- Bribes will enter without knocking.
- By wisdom peace, by peace plenty.
- Cursed is he that doth his office craftily, corruptly or maliciously.
- From prudence peace, from peace abundance.
- Give me liberty or give me death.
- Good fences make good neighbours. (As do protected borders. LST)
- He that is hated by his subjects cannot be king.
- He who cannot command himself, it is folly to think to command others.
- If peace cannot be maintained with honour it is no longer peace.
- In a false quarrel there is no true valour.
- In time of war the devil makes more room in hell.
- In war reputation is strength.
- It is a bad war from which no one returns.
- It is the raised stick makes the dog obey.
- Office tests the man.
- One peace is better than ten victories.
- One volunteer is worth two pressed men.
- Oppression causes rebellion.
- Our master is our enemy.
- Peace flourishes when reason rules.
- Peace with a cudgel in hand is war.
- Peace without truth is poison.
- Set thine house in order.
- Talk of the war but do not go to it.
- The best government is that which governs least.
- The hearts of the people are the only legitimate foundations of empire.
- The world without peace is the soldier’s pay.
- There are no miracles in politics.
- There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder.
- They that buy an office must sell something.
- To preserve friendship one must build walls. (And guard borders! LST)
- Tyranny is far the worse treason.
- War is a proceeding that ruins those who succeed.
- War makes robbers and peace hangs them.
- When war is raging the laws are dumb.
- Where money and counsel are wanting it is better not to make war.
- Who fills an office must learn to bear reproach and blame.
- Who shall keep the keepers?
Presidents dream of leaving a legacy for which they will long be remembered, and Bush will certainly fulfill such a dream.
William Shakespeare said, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.”
Bush will be remembered for WMDs and dishonesty — making his legacy anything but “rich.” (Considering the familial flaw, he will come by this legacy naturally. Read my lips…)
President Bush had his chance. He had the support of millions of Americans, but Woe be to him whose advocate becomes his accuser.
Lastly…When God means to punish a nation He deprives its rulers of wisdom.