Yikes! Given the spike in readership from the aforementioned country in my previous post, I will not delay beginning my observation on what there remains in Americans – though dormant – to restore a nation that was once “great” and “good” (as described by a foreign observer named Alexis de Tocqueville).
“Great and good.” It requires some work. This blog posting may require some work to figure out the worthwhile part on today’s post.
It begins with the chimney cleaners I hired this week to inspect and clean my fireplace. We are clever, we moderns. We can clean fireplaces and chimneys with a minimum of fuss. Trucks. Videos. Giant vacuums. Long-handled scraping things.
But once upon a time, before our technology, chimneys still had to be cleaned, or eventually your house would burn down. Many dark, dirty, very narrow chimneys on each house.
That beautiful estate is the Montecute House in England – beautiful, green England, whose Anglo-Saxon blood is mixed with the blood of the Danes, the Norse, the Irish — and whose children are historically often blond-haired, blue-eyed, and rosy-cheeked.
It is those children who were sent to clean the chimney — the orphaned and the very poor.
Here is our part – the hard part, the worthwhile part. Here is a test to see what is inside of us:
The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake
When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue,
Could scarcely cry weep weep weep weep,
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.
There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curled like a lambs back was shav’d; so I said,
Hush, Tom, never mind it, for when your head’s bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair
And so he was quiet. & that very night.
As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight
That thousands of sweepers Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack
Were all of them lock’d up in coffins of black,
And by came an Angel who had a bright key
And he open’d the coffins & set them all free.
Then down a green plain leaping laughing they run
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.
Then naked & white, all their bags left behind.
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father & never want joy.
And so Tom awoke and we rose in the dark
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Tho’ the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.
The “test” –
Did you see little Tom, orphaned and scared?
Did you see him cry when his heavy blond curls were cut, his head shaved, for the sake of his job?
Did you feel his fright, like that of a lamb in a hard steel trap? That will be his life.
Did you enter his dream and see only little boys like him, enshrouded in dark coffins of soot and coals?
Did you experience his version of what Heaven would be?
Did you feel his resignation to a dark, ugly, short life that he could never change – on his own – without help?
If, deep down inside you, you felt outrage and pity and compassion while you read this poem, then there is that “good and great” somewhere dormant in you . . . .
If this poem has nothing to do with your life, then look to your own happiness, keep away from things that disturb, for as long as you can, and watch your country become cold and corrupted, weakened, and “defeated from within.”
This poem is Hint #1 for what lies dormant in us.
This isn’t about Russia and America, nor about socialism and capitalism. It’s about the Christian individual, a whole nation of Christian individuals, living with compassion and pity and love, it’s being individually responsible to be our brother’s keeper, bringing about laws that conform with the love and compassion of our Creator, and it’s about rejecting a cold, dispassionate power-hungry State that would impose its own values upon free men and women in order to increase its power, stay in power, rule over us as though this State entity knew what is best for mankind.
The Church teaches us The Corporate Works of Mercy. Have you heard of them? They give specific direction to our feelings of compassion so that we can take effective action. We learn them; we do them; then we love to be doing them! The Corporate Works of Mercy encourage the participation of good individuals in a good society.
Would we let a large State rule over us and promise us “everything” so that we don’t have to really . . . feel — and disturb our own lives? If compassion, love, and caring lie dormant within us, then a large State rises up to fill the vacuum with its own self-interest. That’s not really the American Way.