Florida, Missouri (TFC) – Mark Twain is one of the most loved authors in the United States. His wit and sarcasm proved that his words were timeless pieces of the American experience. He’s an American icon. He was also a thought criminal. Twain was born in 1835, not too far from where Ferguson, Missouri currently sits. Had he lived in his hometown today, he would have been on the frontlines of the battle against the government… if he wasn’t such a coward (his term for himself, not mine).
“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”
Today most of us know that most newspapers and television programs contain little, if any, accurate information.
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
Consensus for the sake of agreement has led to the worst tragedies the world has ever known.
“If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.”
The consistent cynic, Twain was quick to tell his contemporaries that the American political system was a joke.
“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
Twain stressed education in much of his writing, but he also viewed education as something that occurred outside of the classroom and often was brutal in his condemnation of formal education.
“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”
Two separate quotes demonstrate Twain’s disdain for people who choose to bury their heads in the sand and accept facts presented by authorities.
“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”
Twain wasn’t exactly a believer in man’s positive nature. He expected the powerful to subjugate the weak. The difference between Twain and his contemporaries is that he didn’t approve of the practice.
“God created war so that Americans would learn geography.”
There are several instances of Twain mocking the ignorance of the American citizen and how easily they are led astray by their government.
“Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
He was fiercely protective of the American experiment, but only of the people. His perception of the government was that of a realist who saw a power hungry profession inhabited by power hungry people who made their livings by taking from the poor.
“The government is merely a servant―merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn’t. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.”
Twain’s belief was clearly that the government was a child of the people. It derived its power from the people and should concern itself with bettering the lives of its people.
Random fact: His real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens