Friday, January 30, 2015

On Changing One's Mind

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
John Maynard Keynes
Mohandas K. Gandhi often changed his mind publicly. An aide once asked him how he could so freely contradict this week what he had said just last week. The great man replied that it was because this week he knew better.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lamentations Of A Staff Officer (With Apologies To T.S. Eliot)

"No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,        115
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool."

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Vive La France

For the past couple of hours I have watched hordes of French citizens - Christians, Moslems and Jews, marching from Place de la Republique to Place de la Nacion, demonstrating national solidarity. It was a grand spectacle, more than a million, perhaps two million, demonstrators showing the best and most inspiring face of France.

Vladimir Lenin once observed, "it is the role of terrorists to terrorize!" If it was the purpose of the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the slaughter of journalists and cartoonists to terrorize France, they utterly failed.

The French president did not hide in a bunker waiting for the dust to settle. Neither did the French people.

Last Thursday, while the killers were still at large, the French public held their first rallies, displaying signs proclaiming "I am Charlie Hebdo."

Some random thoughts and observations:

1. One French journalist was amazed that, not even when France won the World Cup in 1998 were there such large demonstrations in Paris. I was more amazed to consider that the demonstration was more massive than those celebrating the liberation of Paris in 1944. I suppose it is a generational thing;

2. A TV reporter asked a French rabbi about Benjamin Netanyahu's invitation for French jews to emigrate to Israel. "We are jews, he replied,"but we are French. We live here. We will stay here. Today we have marched together with French Christians and French Muslims, marched for Liberty and for Unity. This is our country."

3. A handful of disgruntled terrorists, no matter how thorough their planning, can't intimidate a country that refuses to be intimidated. They can't take away the liberties of a people who refuse to give them up.

Vive la France!