Monday, May 8, 2017

Dog Pile

What's right isn't always popular, and whats popular isn't always right--Albert Einstein
Kids play a game, or used to, that was called "dog pile". Basically it involved a group of children jumping piling on one kid in a big pile.

James Montgomery Flagg illustration for Leslie's Magazine, May 3, 1917.  Civilization, which presumably was represented by the Allies, is depict ed about to strike down the German Beast, which is wearing the classic German helmet of the time,and has a turned up Kaiser Wilhelm mustache.  This post isn't actually about World War One, but illustrates my point.  The German Empire was only marginally less civilized, if at all, than quite a few of the Allied powers of the Great War, and wasn't particularly beastly or uniquely so.

I'm often amazed by the extent to which adults play this game.

Adults, of course, don't recognize that they're doing it.  No, not at all.  But they do.
Public opinion is the worst of all opinions.--Nicolas Chamfort
Often when they do, they believe that their being pioneering in their views.  Not always, but often.  You can tell what current social trend of the day has achieved widespread acceptance when everyone, most people, college protestors, and the media, dog pile on whomever holds the opposing view.

Journalist do control public opinion; but it is not contolled by the arguments they publish--it is controlled by teh arguments between the editor and the sub editor, which they do not publish. --G. K. Chesterton.
Now, that means that holding those views involves an element of bravery.  It doesn't make those views right, but merely because a majority of people hold the opposing view at any one time doesn't make those views right either.

A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.--G. K. Chesterton
In my lifetime, I've seen the public jump on the bandwagon on opinions and movements in a major way, and then back away from them just as strongly.   

Nearly everyone was for invading Iraq in the first Gulf War, no matter what they say now.  Journals that went after the government for the war later on were enthusiastically for it before the first shot was fired, and on the march to Baghdad there was hardly a dissenting voice.

At the end of the Vietnam War everyone was against it, and all veterans were drug addled baby killing dangers to society.  A few years later, the war was simply a mistake (oops) and the veterans were all mistreated heroes.

And so too, I'd note, with big social movements that touch on the very nature of human beings and our natures.  Its interesting to watch the consensus move to the point on some things that people can declare the opposing view wrong in every way and still think themselves trendy, which in fact the opposite is the case. None of that, however, changes the nature of nature, including our own natures.  Nature doesn't care much about our opinions.

People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn't stop you from having your own opinion.--Anne Frank

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