There was a feature in the Chicago Tribune this past Sunday which was simply uncanny, though not surprising. Headlines and political cartoons were reprinted from as long as 140 years ago, with the too-blunt-to-be-implicit point that we haven’t really conquered many of our big problems. A few were:
“OIL SPILL THREATENS GULF” from a spill in 1980 of 4,000 barrels. There were concerns about how and where the oil would disperse.
“REVOLT MAY BE NEARING,” leading with “Taxes are becoming so burdensome…” and more or less describing what the tea parties are about. It was 1949, and a quoted expert said, “the politicians, apparently, are not aware of the situation.”
There were two about the CTA’s financial problems, from 1950 and 1967. And there’s one about how Cubs fans are long-suffering. The date on that one is 1968.
In this context, I would like to share some quotes from GK Chesterton, which have a similar effect.
“Do not look at the faces in the illustrated papers. Look at the faces in the street.”
“Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision.”
“I still hold. . . that the suburbs ought to be either glorified by romance and religion or else destroyed by fire from heaven, or even by firebrands from the earth.”
“This is the age in which thin and theoretic minorities can cover and conquer unconscious and untheoretic majorities.”
“There is a corollary to the conception of being too proud to fight. It is that the humble have to do most of the fighting.”
“If you attempt an actual argument with a modern paper of opposite politics, you will have no answer except slanging or silence.”
“When a politician is in opposition he is an expert on the means to some end; and when he is in office he is an expert on the obstacles to it.”
Bear in mind, if you don’t know, that he lived from 1874-1936.