At the tea party which Alice attended, though an uninvited guest, she became, unintentionally, embroiled in a debate with the the March Hare, the Mad Hatter and the Dormouse. At one point, you may remember, there was a discussion of the use of language in order to divine its correct meaning and, in particular, about the rearranging of words in a sentence through reversing their order. One example given by the March Hare was:
‘You might just as well say,’ added the March Hare, ‘that “I like what I get” is the same thing as “I get what I like”!’
On considering that example, I could not restrain my mind from slithering into thoughts of our present day Rabbit Hole, where almost everyone in elected office – from the Trump Pests spreading their pestilence to epidemic proportions – nationally and globally – to smaller versions of this same malignancy such as the creature – yes, I must confess he is a product of creation, let alone “creationism,” – who despite his recent demonstration of strong-arm tactics (or is it because of), he was invited to another kind of party. He will go unnamed here because his recent actions have put a sufficient stamp on the national scene to mark his character.
But returning to that other party and, in particular, the example quoted above, I thought how interesting it is that with each turn of wording in that sentence we have a prime example of two different breeds of humanity. Need I specify which exemplifies the avarishness of “I get what I like”; or that other kind “I like what I get.” – which conducts its life in accordance with the dictum: “Who is the rich person? One who is content with his/her portion.” [Shimon ben Zoma, Ethics of Our Fathers, Chapter Four – The Talmud].
Ah, I can already see the waving of arms and the loud protests from my leftist friends, who would say, “But if one follows the dictates of ben Zoma, where is there room – or justification – for social activism and reform? Isn’t that exactly what we need now? Otherwise, those with their insatiable lust for power and material wealth will be encouraged to persist to treat the already downtrodden with further impunity and drain them to the point of impoverishment! Shouldn’t we, instead, heed the call to action that was already pronounced by Karl Marx in his nineteenth century classic, The Communist Manifesto:
“Workers of the world unite… you have nothing to lose but your chains!”
Yes, my friends, I must agree that we must heed the call to action, though I am not advocating seditious acts or armed revolt. Nor am I demanding the need for excessive wealth – several homes, cars or ostentatious living – that merely corrupts the soul. I believe ben Zoma was speaking in – or of – a time when the basic needs of every human being would be met:
A home free of debt, health-care for all as a fundamental responsibility of government, free education on every level, sufficient wealth to supply the basic needs for a dignified life for every man, woman and child. Then – and only then – should we be “content with our portion.”