Several years ago Barbara Tuchman, an American Historian and Pulitzer Prize winner, wrote a book about the “march of folly.” Her idea was that there are many times when people pursue policies and decisions which are against their best interest in the long run. The times she pointed to were picked because in those moments there were loud and persistent voices arguing against the dominant direction, but those voices were ignored.
Mrs. Tuchman began with the battle of Troy and the wooden horse. She notes that many of the town leaders cautioned against bringing that “surprise package” into the city. But the leaders ignored those voices of warning and brought the horse into the city and the rest is, as they say, “history.” She also notes that there were a number of decision made by the Popes during the Renaissance that were harmful to the Holy Roman Empire but the Popes in their own interest stuck with their decisions. She also included the involvement of the U.S. in Vietnam because of the failure of several other countries to solve the problems. We should have learned from France.
The case that comes to mind from her work at this time of the 4th of July is the failure of King George to hear and to understand the seriousness of the complaints of the colonies. King George needed money and he continued to believe that the colonies were a “goose” that could be counted on for lots of gold eggs and he did not value or respect the opinion of the many politicians and leaders in his country or in the colonies who told him that he was about to provoke a revolution. The march of folly for the King was to plod ahead in his own stubborn way and ended up losing the colonies.
On this 4th of July week-end it seems very obvious to many that the USA is moving forward in a “march of folly.” There are so many issues and concerns that are affecting this country and those in leadership continue to ignore the problems.
No one can deny that there is an ever increasing gap between the rich and the rest of our country. That growing gap cannot continue forever. The same energy and resentment that spark our original revolution will eventually spark another revolution if the wealth of this country is not divided better. If the wealth of this country is no used to improve the common life of this country. If the middle and lower income people continue to pay more and more taxes and the rich pay smaller and smaller percentages, the march of folly will lead to another revolution.
There is a very obvious immigration issue that has been facing this country for more than two decades and nothing has been done about it. The trend seems to be that the number of immigrants will continue and they will be younger and younger. Such a march of people into this country without a plan or a comprehensive program is bound to lead to a disaster.
The third major issue to be discussed would be the climate change issue. The march of folly, the outright denial that it is happening, the claim that climate change is the greatest hoax ever attempted to be foisted on the American people, means that very little has been done comprehensively to confront the issue. Population explosions around the world is a major part of the problem, but even the Roman Catholic Church has its head in the sand and will change its birth control advice. Our government leaders are just marching to the edge of the cliff and pretend that the road does not end.
The reason that these are great marches of folly is that there are voices, intelligent, compassionate, serious, educated, and visionary voices who have been and continue to try to change the direction of the march of our leadership. But our “King George’s” in government and a large number of our religious leaders, just continue to fight the petty political agendas and nothing gets done.