Nov. 7, 2000

The Secret People

by G. K. Chesterton

Broadcast date: TUESDAY 7 November 2000

Poem: "The Secret People" by G. K. Chesterton

The Secret People

Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget,
For we are the people of England, that never has spoken yet.
They have given us into the hands of the new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes.
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired an looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.
We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.

It's Election Day today, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Since it's an even-numbered year, all US Congressional seats and one-third of the US Senate seats are up for election.

It's the birthday of singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell, born Roberta Joan Anderson in Alberta, Canada in 1943. Her father was a grocer, her mother a schoolteacher. She grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where she sang to fellow hospital patients while recovering from a childhood bout with polio. She enrolled in art school when she was 20, but at the end of the first year, dropped out to head for Toronto to try her luck as a folksinger.

It's the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Bolshevik in Russian means "One of the Majority," and it was a workers' party formed in 1903 by Vladimir Lenin. Lenin's slogan was "peace, land, and bread." The November Revolution was actually the second one of 1917: the first was in the spring and it saw the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II; after a provisional government tried all summer and early fall to establish order, Lenin led the Bolsheviks in the November coup.

It's the birthday of the French philosopher and writer Albert Camus, born at Mondavi, Algeria, 1913. Between the late 1930s and his death in 1960 at age 46, he published essays, short stories, plays and novels about man's isolation in the universe, and the problem of evil in the world. His first novel, The Stranger (1942), is the story of a man condemned to death -- partly for shooting another man, but more for his refusal to conform to proper society. Other novels followed, The Plague (1947) and The Fall (1956). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature when he was 44 years old.

It's the birthday of Marie Curie, born in Warsaw, Poland (1867) famous for her work on radioactivity, and one of the rare double Nobel Prize winners. Her father was a math and physics teacher in Warsaw and Marie got her early basic education there. She moved to Paris when she was 24 to study physics, and became well-known among Sorbonne students for living off bread and butter and tea for weeks on end. She graduated at the top of her class, and married Pierre Curie. Together they discovered two important new elements: polonium, which she named after her native Poland, and radium; both radioactive, a term that she coined. They won the 1903 Nobel in Physics for their work, and eight years later she captured the Nobel in Chemistry, for her further work on radium. She said the saddest event in her life was a day in April of 1906: She did not say goodbye to her husband when he departed their home after a quarrel. Moments later, he was hit by a wagon and killed.

It was on this day in 1805 that Lewis and Clark first saw the Pacific Ocean on their great overland expedition that began at St. Louis the year before. They were near the mouth of the Columbia River, not far from today's town of Astoria, Oregon. They wrote in their journal: "Great joy, we are in view of the ocean which we have been so long anxious to see, and the roaring or noise made by the waves breaking on the rocky shores may be heard distinctly." They built Fort Clatsop there, a log stockade 50 feet square, and spent the winter in it , before heading back to St. Louis.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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