Mona posted a
sonnet poem on my Facebook page.
You have no enemies, you say?
Alas, my friend, the boast is poor,
He who has mingled in the fray
Of duty, that the brave endure,
Must have made foes. If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.
You’ve hit no traitor on the hip,
You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip,
You’ve never set the wrong to right.
You’ve been a coward in the fight.
— Charles Mackay (26 March 1812 – 24 December 1889), author of a history of popular folly, “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”
It’s very appealing, but I have an inner daimon or teaser or pest or red flag or something, that won’t let me accept the compliment, much as I’d like to.
Why? Well because it works in one direction but not the other. Yes if you’ve never ever pissed off a single person, you probably haven’t done much righting of wrongs. But that doesn’t mean that the more people you’ve pissed off, the more righting of wrongs you’ve done.
Think Galileo. Yes, people thought Galileo was wrong. That doesn’t mean that just because people think you are wrong, you are therefore right.
Think Bill Gates. Yes, there must have been people who thought he was daft to drop out of Harvard. That doesn’t mean that everyone who drops out of college will become another Bill Gates.
I frequently piss people off by being an asshole. Sometimes, I think, I’m an asshole but still right about whatever it is I’m being an asshole about. But not always, and I don’t necessarily have to be an asshole about it. Sometimes one has to be an asshole, but not always. Sometimes I’m an asshole and wrong besides.
(But then there’s the whole thing about different standards for asshole status depending on whether you’re a woman or a man. That complicates things.)
Having said all that, I certainly enjoy getting flattering sonnets on my Facebook page!
Probably because I’m an asshole.