Rumination XXV – The Gods of the Copybook Headings

The RT misses his Mama.

I lost her 15 years ago, but I still think about her almost every day. Gerry Lou had a sharp mind, keen insight and a rapier wit. Maybe folks will say the same about me someday … if I’m lucky.

I know that she would have a LOT to say about the state of the world today. She was a student of the Bible and tried her best to live the life that God laid out for those who would follow Him. I’m absolutely certain that she would give you an earful on any of the following things going on today (a non-exhaustive list, for sure):

  • No Prayer in Schools
  • Removal of the Ten Commandments from Public Places
  • Disrespectful Children
  • Irresponsible Adults
  • Parents that Abandon their Families
  • Spouses that Cheat
  • Same-Sex Marriage
  • Abortions
  • … and the list goes on

Gerry Lou taught the RT many, many things about how he should live. One of the ways she did that was to point himto profound writings that had good, moral content. One of her favorite writers of such was Rudyard Kipling, and one of her favorites of his is the subject of this Rumination.

When Gerry Lou was a little girl, she learned to write in a “copybook”, where one copied a phrase from the top of the page over and over on that page as a way to practice writing letters. The RT learned the same way, writing “See Spot run” over and over.

But when Gerry Lou was writing in her copybook, the phrases weren’t about Dick, Jane or Spot. Instead, they were wise, ethical and/or moral sayings. Some were even (gasp!) Bible verses. So while she practiced and learned her letters, she was learning deep, insightful things that would benefit her (and later, her children) all through life.

Oh, that our society still practiced such heresy, instead of the watered-down, politically-correct, non-offending, non-judgmental, “can’t we all just get along” Pablum on which today’s children are fed.

And with that, I give you one of Gerry Lou’s favorite Kipling poems. Oh, and if you think it has anything to do with evolution, you’ve missed the point entirely:

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Rudyard Kipling, October 1919

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