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All Piety and No Sense

by Peter A. Belmont / 2017-05-09
© 2017 Peter Belmont


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There is no more entertaining or gently informative book—at least for me in my present and continuing cranky mood (Trump in office; 100 Senators uncomplainingly signing anti-Palestinian letters whenever asked to do so by AIPAC [Sanders and Warren among them]; all wrong with the USA)—than

”The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”, by: Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows, The Dial Press 2008.

This wonderful book offers a snapshot, made immediately after the war, of the channel island of Guernsey during and just after WWII.

Germany had bombed, invaded, and then for 5 years occupied Guernsey.

In my perception, the USA has far longer been bombed, invaded, and occupied by the Trump billionaires, by AIPAC, and by the Obama-Clinton-Oligarch-Snuggling Neoliberal Democratic Party, which—even after losing the election to Trump—continues to resist a turn toward the populist and election-winning policies of the Sanders/Warren folks, for which a majority of Americans appear to yearn.

This book, “Potato Peel Pie” for short, is charmingly constructed as exchanges of letters between a rich variety of wonderful and memorable people.

In the book I ran across an account of the all-in-1-day readying of the parents of the children of Guernsey for the removal for an unknown period of time of these children by sea to England that they might escape the hardships of the anticipated arrival of the German army in Guernsey.

The parents had been directed to leave at the schoolhouse any children who were to be sent to England. Not all parents elected to do so: their children did very poorly since there was little food in Guernsey during the 5 years of the occupation.

The parents had to leave the kids at the schoolhouse door: “Better to say good-byes outside. One child crying might set them all off”.
I had one bunch of kiddies trying to touch their tongues to their noses, and Elizabeth had another bunch playing that game that teaches them how to lie with a straight face—I forget what it’s called—when Adelaide Addison came in with that doleful mug of hers, all piety and no sense.

HERE I STOPPED READING BRIEFLY: it rang a bell:

     all piety and no sense

What, after all, is the character of our so-very-religious Republican and-or Trumpetty rulers these days if not “pious”—the ideological piety of some cockeyed admixture of an awful version of kindness-hating, charity-avoiding self-reliance-of-the-very-rich-celebrating, let-others-go-to-the-devil (can this really be the teaching of any Protestant church?) mixed with a similar people-hating capitalism mixed with nonsensical theories of government (pseudo-religious ideas, wholly without basis in experience) that government is bad (although overlarge armies and murderous police forces and enormous prison-systems are wonderful for the USA) and government expenditure must be cut to the bone (usual exception for overlarge armies, police, and prisons) and taxes especially upon the rich must be reduced (although government debt is said to be a “bad thing”)—but this religion believes in miracles and in one miracle in particular, said, again and again against all evidence, to be upon the immediate horizon, is the collection of increasing amounts of tax monies by government, an increase generated—mirabile dictu— by the very reduction of tax rates especially upon corporations and their owners, the very rich. Query: is this soon-to-occur miracle called “trickle down” or “trickle up” or “tricky-Dicky” or what?

Our governors are truly pious, sticking to their dreadful anti-people ideologies (over-enrich the already over-enriched, but do it by refusing to help ordinary people, refusing to spend a dime to repair crumbling infrastructure or to provide education or medical care or elder care or housing or anything else needed by ordinary [not the already over-enriched] people. And, oh yes, free up industry to poison the air, the water, and the earth without regard to the effect of such poisoning on the people (who do they think they are, anyhow?) of the USA. And don’t get me started on the subject of Trump’s (and the Republicans’) climate-denialism which pushes the earth toward a disaster which puts the Holocaust to shame.

Truly pious, those politicians, but they have no sense.

Piety.

Let us return to “Potato Peel Pie” and the children being assembled for a bus-ride to the pier for embarkation to England and separation for years and years from their parents:
Adelaide Addison came in with that doleful mug of hers, all piety and no sense.

She gathered a circle of children around her and commenced singing “For Those in Peril on the Sea” over their little heads. But no, “safety from storms” wasn’t enough for her. God had to keep them from being blown up too. She set about ordering the poor things to pray for their parents every night —who knew what the German soldiers might do to them? Then she said to be especially good little boys and girls so that Mama and Daddy could look down on them from Heaven and BE PROUD OF THEM.

I tell you, Juliet, she had those children crying and sobbing fit to die. I was too shocked to move, but not Elizabeth. No, quick as an adder’s tongue, she had ahold of Adelaide’s arm and told her to SHUT UP.

Adelaide cried, “Let me go! I am speaking the Word of God!” Elizabeth, she got a look on her that would turn the devil to stone, and then she slapped Adelaide right across the face—nice and sharp—so her head wobbled on her shoulders—and hauled her over to the door, shoved her out, and locked it. Old Adelaide kept a-pounding on the door, but no-one paid her any heed. I lie—silly Daphne Post did try to re-open it, but I got her round the neck and she stopped.

It is my belief that the sight of a good fight shocked the fear right out of those babies, and they stopped crying, and the buses all came and we loaded the children on. * * * I hope I never live to see another such day * * * [A]ll those little children bereft in the world—I was glad I did not have any.

Piety. Kindness. Good sense. We live in a country now turned over to the not-very-tender care of a ruling class bereft of good sense and energized by evil (people-hating) ideological pieties.

     AMEN AND AMEN.






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